When I tell people my favorite pastime is fishing for sharks I just about exclusively get the deer in the headlights look followed by, “You do what?” or something similar. That is later accompanied by the jaw drop as I utter the word, “kayak.” Evidently the words shark and kayak spoken in the same sentence invoke images of crazed maniacs wielding fishing poles as they embark upon a frenzied attack upon that mystery world below the surface. People tend to regain their composure after a few minutes of explaining exactly how the kayak is utilized and how the shark is landed. I still think a number of my friends think I might have a screw loose or two. Actually, they are probably right, but doesn’t everyone to one degree or another?
Double bull hook up
The question goes unspoken many times, but it still merits an answer. Why shark fishing, and more specifically, why land based shark fishing? There are a number of reasons and I will cover several here:
1. I have always loved saltwater fishing – My dad is from Rockport, Texas on Aransas Bay in the Texas coastal bend. As we were growing up we would always spend a week in Rockport with the grandparents. Every day we would go fishing. We rarely had access to a boat, so we would almost always go wade fishing. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of fishing with my cousins and uncles in Rockport. Those were the good times!
2. Go big or go home – Eventually those little 24″ speckled trout seem smaller and smaller. Then there are the redfish. The smaller bay reds eventually look smaller compared to the bull reds caught in the surf. After a few of those you start thinking shark. If you are going to target fish, why not large ones? Sharks are the answer.
3. The Excitement – I have recently pondered the relationship between fishing and gambling. I am not a gambler, in fact I have never learned how to play poker. I think I do my gambling at the beach. I live 6 hours from the nearest saltwater. For me to go fishing I have to plan a several day long trip. I have to plan ahead, adjust my schedule, miss work, miss my family, invest time and money. I only get to plan a few trips per year and I spend the in between times preparing and anticipating. This is all for one moment. Anyone who has caught a shark knows the moment I am talking about. The moment you hear that glorious sound, the sound of the silence followed by the screaming clicker as the shark runs! It is a big gamble, but when it pays off it is all worth it. The excitement of that moment, the fight, the release. They are all part of the excitement that beckons us back to the beach.
4. The Danger – As with anything there is some real danger and some perceived danger. I am not much or a risk taker. I would not ride a motorcycle on a public road. That seems like a high risk to me. I would, however, fish for sharks from a kayak. There are some dangers in shark fishing, but I think with caution they are more perceived than real. Obviously you should be wise and wear your life jacket, watch the weather, etc., but with caution I think it is not nearly as dangerous as an outsider might think. For me, the kayaking out in rough weather or at night is much more scary than the sharks. What gets my adrenaline going is kayaking out your bait on a rough day, staring those 6 foot waves in the face as they try to pound you into submission. Kayaking at night is another matter. I have only done this a few times on calmer nights. The feeling of being several hundred yards offshore at night with your only light being that of the moon for me is an interesting mix of emotion. It is exciting, yet incredibly peaceful out on the sea at night. It is an adrenaline rush, yet calming all at the same time.
5. The Exercise – Land based shark fishing at times can be a pretty extreme workout. What other kind of fishing do you start preparing for ahead of time by working out? Last year shark fishing was my motivation for working out. Here along the Texas coast calm days are a rarity. It is almost always a challenge to kayak a bait out. The wind is almost exclusively blowing directly inshore causing the surf to pound. It doesn’t take very long for the water to wear you out. Being in shape is a necessity when the surf is rough. Otherwise you will only be an observer as your buddy who is in shape manages to get his baits out. Don’t be left on the sideline. Get in shape! (I need to take my own advice at this point)
6. Because it is hard –Decades ago President Kennedy challenged America to go to the moon. It was something that only a few years before was hardly conceivable. His reasoning was that we should do it not because it was easy, but because it was hard. That is probably the biggest reason that shark fishing appeals to me. It is hard. It takes long-term planning and strategy. Mapping out fishing areas, planning for catching bait, making leaders, etc. It is so much more work than any other type of fishing. That is the beauty of it. The more difficult it is, the greater the reward when you finally get to taste success!
These are a few of my thoughts and motivations. I’m sure other shark fishermen have other reasons and motivations, but these are some of mine. There are several other reasons, but these are the main ones. Maybe you could share yours?