Float Fishing: Here Sharky!

Well we’re at it again, out trying to lure in a big one here at Sharky’s on the Pier in Venice, Florida. Choice of baits range from mullet to Jack and reels go from jig master to nines but for the sake of this article, I’ll be using my Mainer for backup, my 6/0 for fishing local and the 9/0 to float out.

We always fish with a back up! If for some reason your cut off or have a maintenance problem it is easier to switch out rods than to re-rig or change out a reel. I carry my Penn Mainer just for that reason. My Mainer, an original from the 60’s, is equipped with 50# test line on a Diawa Beef Stick. The leader is 360# mono leader with a 3 ounce slip weight and accompanying short shank 8/0 mustad hook. I have a mono leader on because sometimes this time of year, with the cooler water, the bite doesn’t happen on wire. Now let’s not laugh but for those of you who can’t find the 300 to 500# test mono leader material or can’t afford the stuff, Alas a miracle; I use the heaviest weed whacking string money can buy and boy does it catch big fish!

I’ll be fishing local with my Penn 6/0. This reel is duded up with 500 yards of 50# mono and attached to a DLX35H eight foot Star Rod. This rod and reel combo is ideal for a big shark; It’ll put a bruising to ’em. The leader is Seven Stran 480# SS wire with a 4 ounce sliding weight and attached 10/0 mustad tinned hook. My bait of choice today is half a mullet. Placing the hook in the center of the head, pushing through; with it coming out between the gills and the bottom lip. Casting a 6/0 takes time and practice. Crows nests are going to happen on a regular basis, so don’t let that stop you from trying. A 200 foot cast is possible with skill and lots of luck but just getting it out off the pier, in the water, without crossing someone Else’s line objective. This type of fishing is considered going local. A hand cast with a 4/0 or larger reel.

Now it’s time to put the children to bed and take mama out to dinner. The Penn 9/0 is equipped with some 480 yards of 80# line and is attached to an eight foot Star Rod. A six foot, 500# test SS leader with a four ounce slip weight and clip attached to a tinned mustad 10/0 long shank hook. On this rig we will float out a chunk of Jack. I’ll be using the meaty middle section with the hook placed under the dorsal fin to secure the bait from ripping out on the bite. You will need to check with your local laws and pier rules before using a clip method of floating out a bait. My clip of choice is a standard cloths pin clipped at the top of the leader and a inflated balloon placed between the lips of the cloths pin. Between the current and wind this makes for a great bait delivery system out to the waters beyond casting distance. With this operation, one can float out a bait a couple of hundred yards, give a quick and sharp tug letting the float drift away and putting your bait, out there on the bottom, to be picked up for a fight into the night. Another preferred method, developed in Australia, is the “Twin Snap Float” rig. This float is permanently attached to your line with a quick release on the bite allowing the float to travel up your line and you can keep an eye out as to where your fish is in relation to the pier or structure fishing on.

Now shark’n is usually a slow fishing process of delivering the baits to the water and waiting. My grandfather once said you have to have the patience’s of an oyster to shark fish. He was right. Sometimes out the bite is right on but more times than not it is a waiting game. Tidal change, water condition ,weather, whatever? Today we had a low pressure move in with four tides and rough water…ought to be prime! It is raining out side but the fish are already wet, so let’s go fishing.

Both my lines are out, so as to pass the time I rigged up my eight foot Walmart special with attached spinning reel and 15# line with a Got-ch-a and we’ll try for baits. The water temperature is down and the fish are moving slower this time of year so my presentation will be erratically slow with twitches in an up an down movement. The water clarity is none existent and choppy at best. First cast, bam! The drag is screaming and the rod whipping. Pull, pull, pull, this fish is feisty. Tighten down on the drag a bit I managed to get this fish up to the top of the water to see it was a big Jack Carvel. Lowering my bridge net, this fish was plucked from the waters to be released back for another time to be caught. This tells me the jacks are moving and will probably be the bait of choice for a run on the shark lines. Zzzz, zzzzz, zzzzzzzz the 9/0 is smoke’n! “Fish On!” Placing the rod into your fighting belt, disengaging the clicker and setting the hook in one swift move takes many a practice and time to master. This ones so big, he’s pulling me to the rail. With the drag locked down about as tight as one wants to get an yet, this rocket is straight to the moon; no stopping him. Curvature of the rod is awesome and the sound of the breeze across the tight line sounds like a string quartet. Beads of sweat are pouring from my brow as my muscles are screaming from the pull of this beast of the deep. Finally, I rock back on to my heels and I know, I have turned the fish. The rod tip bounces frantically up and down announcing the shark is shaking his head and trying to throw the hook. Now the steady process of give and take will begin to take place over the next 45 minutes or so. Ten yards in, twenty yards out and so on until this fish is at the base of the pile-on below. At that time we will attempt to gaff the shark in one of its fins and either beach it or lift it to the pier deck where it will have the hook removed, its picture taken and put back into the water to catch another day! That is, unless it is a Black Tip Shark. If we are lucky enough to land a Black Tip then everyone will be eating shark steaks tonight.

And boy am I getting ahead of myself on this story; for today are we not going to have a shark dinner or are we going to have a picture of the big one for it got away! After about 25 minutes or so into the ensuing battle this critter wrapped the line around one of those crab pods out there and that was the end of that! Oh well, there is always tomorrow…………..later……………….

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