A NEWS RELEASE recently reported that Mark Stock, a Florida angler, landed what he said is a record class tiger shark on April 25 while fishing off Marco Island, Florida.
The creature measured 14½ feet. The current Florida state record is a 1,065-pound tiger shark measured at 12½ feet. It was caught out of Pensacola waters in 1981. Stock’s shark was estimated to weigh more than 1,100 pounds, but its exact weight will never be known as it was immediately released.
In Texas the tiger shark record is 1,129 pounds, 13.5 feet long, and was caught May 24, 1982. According to TPWD there are 14 different species of sharks swimming in Texas coastal waters. Bull, tiger, blacktip, hammerhead, Atlantic sharpnose and lemon are the most common.
Sharks are present all along the coast, including the middle coast areas of Corpus Christi and Aransas Bays. Port Mansfield fishing guide, Rudy Romero, gave an emphatic yes to question of sharks in the water where he and his clients fish. “We have a lot of bull and black tip sharks. We use big live baits free-lined to catch big speckled trout, and the sharks occasionally dine on the trout baits.”
Romero and clients target deep waters around South Padre Island Causeway in August for trout. The sharks hang out along the bordering sand bars, looking for a meal.
Fishing guide Tommy Countz reports that he will see sharks in the shallow water if he’s wading, but they never bother him.
“When I started fishing we didn’t have a shark problem,” Countz said. “Probably the first 15 years, I can count on one hand how many times I had a shark take a fish off my stringer or bite a tail off. Then all of sudden the sharks got smart and figured out these guys walking around in the water with a fishing rod in their hand are easy prey for a good meal. It got worse. Normally we find sand shark sightings in the surf. They just come up, bite the tail off. They don’t really get that aggressive.”
Mike Williams is well known along the Texas coast as Tarpon Express. “They (shark) used to be kind of an offbeat fish, but now they are our main trips in the summer months,” said Williams. “Some of the biggest tarpon of the year are caught while we are on shark trips.”
Williams targets smaller sharks, in the 40- to 150-pound range, “something a kid could catch. Usually a boy 12 years old can catch a 100-pound shark. I can usually tell how big the fish is when they hook the fish. If it’s more than the kid can handle, I give the rod to the father.”
Fishing guide Glenn Ging recalled an encounter with a shark last summer. “We were wading and noticed a big bull shark up in a gut in knee-deep water. As we waded along we spooked him. He ran toward us, and through us. It was scary, but he wasn’t after us. He was trying to get back to deep water. Even with the buckets, they will come up, smell them, and turn around. I haven’t had a shark mess with anybody.”
Ging’s bucket is a five-gallon bucket with holes drilled in it, rigged up with a lid and pool noodles.
“I think the biggest shark encounter comes if you wade and drag a stringer,” said Ging. “Sooner or later, a shark is going to come up and eat some of your fish.”
“We still use stringers a lot of time but only in certain areas,” Ging said. “If I’m wading the outside of sand bars, or some of the deeper water spots, I generally take my buckets. If I’m wading flats, up on the bars, on grass flats I just use a stringer.”
Williams’s terminal tackle on shark fishing trips consists of 50-pound monofilament, heavy-duty black swivel, a nine-foot rod, and 150-pound test monofilament tied to a 15/0 circle hook. A mullet, piggy perch or other big live bait is what should be on the hook.
“Everybody catches one and has a lot of fun, catching up to 30 fish a day,” said Williams. “In most cases we let all the sharks go, except for the black tips. You can keep one of those, and they are good to eat.”
Williams biggest shark was about 900 pounds, which was caught 60 miles offshore. “We were using about a 15-pound jackfish for bait. We got it up to the boat, saw it, took some pictures of it in the water, and let it go.”
Much has been written about not wading in shorts or cutoffs. The white skin reminds a shark of the underbelly of another fish. Ging said he wades in cutoffs and has never had a close encounter with a shark.
Romero said that if he or a client sees sharks, they slowly back off and get back to the boat. A fishing friend I had a few years back, carried an automatic rifle on board his boat. If a shark took one of his baits instead of a kingfish, he broke out the rifle and shot it as it got up alongside his boat.
Don’t do that. Remind me to tell you the story of what happened one time when he fired the gun off as we were anchored close to a shrimp boat with a sleeping crew.
Email Tom Behrens at [email protected]