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Sharkathon is here!

Well, the annual tradition known as Sharkathon has finally arrived. This is the big week! It almost did not happen since the government was shut down. The tournament is held at Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) which was one of the victims of the shutdown. All is well now in the fishing world. Looks like the deal that they worked out will insure another shutdown in a couple of months, but that will be okay because Sharkathon will have survived! We hope to take lots of video of the sharks we catch. (We also hope to catch lots of sharks). The weather report looks decent at the moment, but you never know. Sharkathon attracts bad weather like blood attracts sharks. We will see. I will report back after the trip.




In a previous post I began describing the construction of my new shark fishing platform for my truck. This is a continuation of that post describing the construction and first trial run of the new rig. The previous post left off with the basic platform framework and rails constructed along with brackets to hold the rails firmly in place when in use. The rails fold down for transport and the kayak goes on top.

Not too long ago I was given a beach umbrella. I thought it would probably be useless to me, but it was going to be thrown out anyway so I took it. As I was building the platform it occurred to me that it might be good to go up top and shade the “hot seat” as I have taken to calling it. I unfurled it and it was as good as new and a perfect rectangular shape to fit in between the rod holders. I welded a tube on the back rail and now it is easily mounted to provide a bit more protection from the sun. At that point I was happy how things were coming along, but got busy with work and had to take a break from construction.

When I had time to work on it again we had a trip coming up and I was under the gun to get things rolling again. I had a lot to do and not enough time. I got to working on the rear support for the platform and pulled my headache rack off my truck for a bit of reinforcement.

Rear platform support

 I still needed to cut and paint the plywood decking and sand and paint everything. We couldn’t go to the beach without a good layer of paint, that was for sure. The weekend before our trip came and I still had a lot to do. Fortunately my dad and my friend Nathan came to the rescue. We dedicated a Saturday to prepping and painting. We also set up the rack on the truck and made sure everything fit before finishing.

The rig partially assembled on the truck for the first time

 After drilling the necessary holes and welding on some anchor points for tie-down straps it was ready for finishing.

We also tested out the new 10×13′ sun shade that I got on eBay. I created a slide out rail in the beach side of the rig to be a support for the shade. The plan was that it would anchor from the top rail of the rig and be supported by 2 PVC poles on the other end. I went with the sun shade because it is designed to be stretched from four corners and not have the middle part flapping in the breeze like a tarp would. We unfurled it and tied it on to get an idea of how things were going to work. It looked good.

Unfurling the sun shade

I spent a good part of the next two days cutting the floor, painting, painting, painting and painting again it seemed. Everything had at least two layers and in some cases three. It was not all the way dry when we left, but it was good enough. I also cut out a section of an old aluminum ladder to serve as a ladder to get up to the platform. I figured it would work well for that purpose.

Well, we had it mostly together and ready to test out. We were heading down to PINS (Padre Island National Seashore) in south Texas to do a little trip in anticipation of Sharkathon ( We would see how it actually worked on the beach and if we could utilize it to catch some sharks.

Everything packed and mobile

The morning we set it up it exceeded expectations. In the past setting up was always a bit of improvisation and confusion. In this case it was fairly easy. We knew where everything would go and how to set it up.

I was a bit worried about how the sun shade would work and if the PVC poles would want to sway from side to side. I made them a couple of feet longer to bury them in the sand and it worked perfectly. We didn’t have high winds, but in the breeze they stayed firm and the shade did not flap in the breeze at all. Part of my idea in the design was to have the shade at an angle to have more air pressure on one side than the other figuring that would minimize flapping. It worked flawlessly for this trip. Hopefully it will do as well in high winds (Hopefully I won’t be able to test this out in high winds for a long time).

shark fishing platform

Everything set up for the first time

Shark Fishing Platform

The Complete Set Up"

The platform part was great! I had designed it for the fishing aspect, but it was also a great place to hang out and enjoy the view. Seeing the sea from a higher vantage point makes a big difference. I sat there for quite a while with my binoculars checking out offshore gas rigs, birds, the surf and the beach. It was quite enjoyable and the umbrella kept me out of the hot sun. It also worked great for holding the rods up high and out of the way. We didn’t even get in a whole day of fishing (see my Watch the Weather post for details on the trip), but it was great while it lasted. We didn’t land any sharks with it this time, but I am looking forward to trying again in the future. We can probably even locate the fish on the way in with the binoculars. It will add a whole other dimension to future trips.

The "Hot Seat"

All in all, the platform was a success. I still have a number of kinks to work out and I am still thinking of the best way to work a fresh water storage system into the rig. I will cover those upgrades in future posts. I am sure I will be tweaking the system more and more with each trip to the beach.

Until next time —- Tight lines!


Watch the Weather

This post will basically be a fishing report, or rather a non-fishing report. There is a lesson to be learned from our tale and it is reflected in the title of this post. It seems simple, but for some of us I guess simple is a bit of a challenge at times. Since we live 6 hours from the nearest beach we can never get enough fishing time in and when we do it requires a lot of planning and coordination. As fate would have it we had the itch and we also had a family reunion scheduled for July 30 in Rockport, Texas. Driving to the coast without fishing is a bit of a sin in my book, so we had to figure something out. My dad and I cooked up a plan to go several days early and spend 2 1/2 days on the beach at Padre Island National Seashore (PINS), hopefully dragging in the big ones. We got packed up and took off Wednesday morning. All went well. We got there early and got the errands done. We were even able to catch some monster mullet in short order with our cast net. Things were going too well. I had that feeling that something was going to go wrong and the bottom had to fall through shortly. Things never go smoothly on fishing trips it seems. Well, unfortunately we were wanting to register for Sharkathon coming up in a couple of months and online registration started at 8:00 pm. We killed some time and then hit the Starbuck’s parking lot to get online. The site was soooo slow with the rush to register and it took us 1 1/2 hours to get three of us signed up. Boy were we glad to leave that parking lot! We then headed for PINS and found a place on the beach for the night, but it was a moonless, dark night. I mean dark like the inside of a cave dark. I don’t recall ever being anywhere that dark other than a cave. Anyway, it was too dark to run out a bait at night, so we figured we would crash and get going in the morning early.


During our trip we heard rumors of a tropical storm down near the Yucatan. We had not had any storms yet and it was just the beginning of the hurricane season, so we had not thought to worry about the weather. As we gleaned info from the internet in route we heard that it was headed for us, but was far away. We figured it wouldn’t get to us until Saturday or Sunday.

As we got up the next morning it turned out to be a perfect day for fishing. The water was clear and beautiful. The beach was clear of seaweed and we had a slight breeze to keep us cool, but not enough to stir up the surf too much. Surf was at about 3 feet. No waves breaking on the 3rd bar, so getting out would be a piece of cake.

We started getting set up and set up the new fishing platform and sun shade. It worked great, much better than anticipated. The view from the top of the platform was awesome! With my binoculars it seemed you could see forever. After setting up camp we ran out 3 shark lines. One with cownose ray, one with a horse mullet, and one with a combination of the two. Not much happening in the morning fish-wise, but it was such a perfect day it was good anyway. We caught the news on the radio and they had moved the arrival time for tropical storm “Don” up to  Saturday morning early. We figured we would have to leave the next day, so we were going to have to go “all in” that night. Instead of leaving it all on the field we would be leaving it all on the beach we figured. I took the kayak out in the afternoon and did some BTB (beyond the breakers) fishing. I paddled out trolling a crankbait behind the yak and drift fishing mullet on the way in. I did this three times with interesting results. On the way out each time I would get several hits from large ladyfish on the lure. I only managed to get one in and it went into the cooler for bait later that night. Drift fishing with mullet on the way in I would get hits from some smaller 2′ plus Atlantic Sharpnose sharks. I brought in 2 or 3 this way, but nothing large.

When I made it back in my dad was fighting a fish and almost had it in. It turned out to be a nice, juicy stingray! It looked like such yummy shark bait it almost made me want to take a bite! We put him in the cooler and we were stocked with some excellent shark bait and I was looking forward to our first night fishing. I was feeling confident. Things were looking good. We grilled some chicken on the grill for a power dinner after my cousin arrived to join us. Then we got what was left of the cownosed ray on a hook. I was going to get that out first and then get that nice, fat, juicy stingray out. It was going to be good!








Well, it was, but it wasn’t. I was actually pushing the kayak into the water to yak out the first bait when one of the park rangers pulled up and asked if anyone had talked to us yet? We responded that no they hadn’t, but we knew that a storm was in route. He proceeded to tell us that the park was closing and that we needed to start packing up and get out as soon as we could. Wow! That was most unexpected and out of nowhere. There was not a cloud in the sky and it was an awesome day! Anyway, that shot all our plans down in flames. Instead of fishing we spent 2 1/2 hours trying to get all packed up and out of the park. We got to my cousin’s house to crash about midnight.

The next day we tried to do a little wade fishing in Aransas bay to hopefully salvage the trip. The storm was blowing in, so the wind was high. The jellyfish were thick like I have never seen them. There were all different kinds hanging out together and we all wore shorts. We all endured a few stings, then we all about the same time got a good one that worked its way into the shorts. That was pretty much the end of things there. Apparently it was not meant to be.

In the end we didn’t catch much fish, but we enjoyed a beatiful 3/4 of a day on the beach! We also got to test out the new platform and do a test run for Sharkathon. The moral of this tale: Always keep an eye on the weather, even when you might not think it is necessary.

In the end we got to go fishing and that is what counts.