A Day Shark Fishing in Key West

The shipmates were rested and ready for another Big Adventure, tactics and meticulous planning was the order of the day.

Off shore fishing had been slow and with slow tides and low tides around midday a decision to go shark fishing on the flats was made.

Captain Mike aboard the Coolcast was going to take us to a secret location that few white men knew. It seems that I was one of them because I had been there before.

Captain Mike
Captain Mike

The A team today was Cruncher Robin, Chris the Wrasse and Robber Marlow it was hot and humid but the shipmates were now hardened and were pacing themselves.

The secret location was a long winding channel with flats both sides, the problem was it was between flats with only a couple of feet of water available to gain access.

Captain Mike skilfully got us into position and our fresh Barracuda and Bonito were hung over the side to attract our target species.

After about 30 minutes the chum slick was about ½ mile long snaking its way over the flats, which were at high tide averaging 4 ft of water. Visibility was excellent and soon our first customer arrived, it was a Lemon shark and we decided that only one of us at a time would target a fish until we hopefully had several to go at.

To cut to the chase sport became hectic and we were soon into double figures with several fish approaching 100lbs being skilfully released.

Another one for Chris
Another one for Chris

Robbers arm was playing up so it was down to Chris to keep the count going up.

This was Chris's TWENTIETH shark of the day !!
This was Chris’s TWENTIETH shark of the day !!

In case anybody is feeling sorry for Robber Marlow and his “bad arm”, DON’T. The bad arm only comes into play when he’s hooked an average size fish and can’t be bothered to play it. The arm is particularly bad when he hooks an amberjack and he was most upset when I was sharing a boat with him a few years back. He attempted to pass the rod over only for me to refuse….the reel handle was on the wrong side…I’m left handed !.  I also remember him going out with Dave Burr tuna fishing around the shrimp boats. That day there were a lot of bonito around (they’re like little tuna and fight like hell). Poor Dave had to land so many bonito that he was proper poorly for the next three days.

Robin also had some great fish including a couple of black tip that really smoked our 12 and 20lb outfits.

Cruncher's shark is heading for Cuba !!
Cruncher’s shark is heading for Cuba !!

Chris was awarded a special prize by landing a shark with his hook through the eye of a hook that had previously broken off, an amazing rare picture.

There's much more chance of winning the lottery than being able to perform this trick...our hook has neatly hooked a hook that was already in the fish. We removed BOTH hooks
There’s much more chance of winning the lottery than being able to perform this trick…our hook has neatly hooked a hook that was already in the fish. We removed BOTH hooks

The Tide turned and we moved up the channel a few hundred yards to a better location.

It wasn’t long before we had several more sharks around the boat but way out on the flats were two real monsters.

One was a Lemon the other was a big Bull shark that looked like a mini black submarine.

These big fish aren’t stupid and are always out of range.

Robber caught a nice Jack and quickly had it out on the edge of the flat under a balloon.

This should have done the trick but despite some major chasing the big bull shark did not catch the Jack and it gave up.

We needed a new Indian trick.

Robin soon had the answer he hooked and landed a Barracuda and a fresh fillet was soon out there.

Barracuda are very oily which makes them a great shark bait, as the scent trail is carried on the tide.
Barracuda are very oily which makes them a great shark bait, as the scent trail is carried on the tide.

The big Lemon picked up Crunchers bait and the reel smoked as about 200yds of line disappeared off the spool, then disaster, the hook broke in half and it was gone.

Robber had been studying the big Bull shark and noticed that now and again it left the flat and disappeared into the channel, a new tactic was employed.

A sizable piece of Barracuda was cast way down the channel and it wasn’t long before the beast was sizing it up.

These big sharks aren’t stupid and over the years we have found that the wire puts them off, so we use short pieces of around 20” and strike quickly.

The beast picked up the bait and Robber set the hook, the first run was over 200yds and it was looking like Robber would be spooled out.

The Bull Shark is now 200 yards away and Robber's spool is emptying fast.
The Bull Shark is now 200 yards away and Robber’s spool is emptying fast.

The beast stopped for a few seconds, but then raced off with another 100yds, the situation was now critical as the bottom of the spool was showing and there was no time to pull the anchor to follow it.

Robber used another Indian trick and did the opposite to what most anglers would do, he reduced the drag rather than increasing it and it did the trick the Beast stopped.

This time there was no bad arm and slowly the beast was pulled back to wards the boat, it was a major effort with some very serious drag on the reel and sweat from Robbers nose dripping on the spool to cool it down.

Eventually after 45 minutes it was along side, a magnificent Bull shark estimated at 200lbs plus.

The photographs do not do it justice regarding its size. Another Personal Best for Robber.

 

The bull shark was safely released to fight another day
The bull shark was safely released to fight another day

We finished the day with 26 sharks of various species, 1 Barracuda and several smaller fish, a fantastic day for the crewmates.

The B team were out with Captain Jack, Keith and Lemon Geoff was the crew.

They also went shark fishing in Jew Fish Basin, it was a slow start but eventually the customers turned up and they also had some great sport landing 14 sharks of various species.

Lemon Geoff playing his namesake...a lemon shark
Lemon Geoff playing his namesake…a lemon shark

Everyone was tired out so we dined at the Raw Bar eating some of our fish from the previous day, it was awesome and the perfect end to another great day in paradise.

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