Delaware surf fishing shark week for science concludes

Poor Girls Open, Mahi-mahi, dolphin fish
The ladies with their first place Mahi-mahi in the Poor Girls Open

Well it has been an interesting few days, I met a lot of cool people, and made some new friends.  First off, I want to congratulate Kristen Kemper, Jennifer Garmer, Patty Link, and Sabrina Shannnon for winning the Mahi Division in the Poor Girls Open.  They fished with Captain Scooby “Kevin”, mates Travis and Jimmy Hall on the boat REEL DESIRE.  Patty Link wrote in … “I am thankful for all involved in allowing me to land a monster mahi for a great cause. Great times and great friends (old and new). Special thanks to Scooby, Jimmy, Travis and Reel Desire for donating their time and effort for the cause. CATCH EM UP!!!!!”  The ladies did a great job and even represented DSF during this event.  The women this year are fishing like champs, as much as the men.  In some cases much better than the men, Kristen has been helping us catch sharks for DSU, when she has the time.  I am very proud to have our DSF logo on their team shirt.  I am already looking forward to next year.

Catchin Jiants, sand tiger sharks, herring point beach, delaware seashore state park
CJ and Alex helping process a landed sand tiger shark, we have permits to do this via DSU otherwise doing this is illegal in Delaware tidal waters.

Second thing on the agenda is I owe some of you an apology.  We did fish Friday night, I was asked to keep it very low key.  Animal Planet was coming to film us surf fishing for sharks.  Unbeknownst to me another team was invited, since they had caught sharks too.  Had I known all the people that caught sharks were to be involved, I would have had all of you out there, and for that I am sorry.  Different  DSF “teams” caught 20 sharks for this research project.  I want to thank all of you for helping DSU’s research.  This was a group effort from kaykaing out baits, holding flashlights, to landing and releasing the shark.  Trying to do all of that alone is dangerous, and illegal without permits, well, the landing/beaching part.  What we accomplished is much more important than getting on TV.  We were filmed by Animal Planet landing, and processing a shark.  It was a mad house for a bit, and we were swamped by spectators.  CJ handed me his surf rod, … “Here hold this get that DSF T shirt on TV” , those folks never even asked our names.  We felt a little jilted by Animal Planet, but we came to fish, not get on TV, something I have known about for weeks but kept quiet so as not to turn it into a circus.  I didn’t want them to think we were a bunch of beer drinking shark wrangling wanna bes.  One of the reasons there was no drinking allowed, this was serious work and we needed to be 100% at all times.  I had to yell at people to get a dog not on a leash out of my way.  My people were literally shoved out of the way by the other team and their spectators, they wanted to showboat again, and we have no pictures of any of this.  I literally shoved their cameraman down when he almost lost a foot by the shark, for the second time.  These people were not very safe to be around, when processing a shark.  The funniest thing said Friday night … “That is the biggest hook I have ever seen, what do you catch with that?”  (said by a shark fishermen) REALLY!!! I thought CJ was gonna pass out from laughing.  We had a lot of fun fishing for the research team.  I want to thank the DSU crew … Dewayne Fox, Jimmy, Greg, Jericka, Simone, Amy, and Chelsea for the opportunity to catch large toothy units from the surf.  I had a great time meeting and talking with all of you.  Jimmy and his crew are some dedicated researchers, they troopered out some long fishless, bad weather nights.  I am glad we were able to fill your tags.  I am looking forward to seeing the research and movements of our sharks.  Keep a lookout for Brandon the sand tiger shark.  The Georgia aquarium people were very nice, seemed very interested in what we had been doing for three weeks, and I hardly had time to talk with them.

catchin jiants, spike tail ray, herring point beach , cape henlopen state park
Alex Stevens with his spike tail ray caught by team Catchin Jiants. yes they get even bigger than this I think the record is around 600 pounds.

The quota of 25 sharks was filled Friday night.  Catching Jiants agreed to stay for another night to fill 15 apex predator tags.  Like CJ said … “I came here to fish for sharks.”  Good point, I geared up.  We did a little fishing Friday night since we were already set up, and waited for the research team to come back the next day/evening.  We caught a lot of sharks that night.  The next day the research team canceled, and we decided to stay and fish.  Catchin Jiants team made a special trip for this, blew off their loved ones to come to Delaware, and catch sharks for science.  Since they were already here, we decided to fish for big skates and rays all day.  The boys produced a large spike tail ray.  We also caught an 8 foot sand tiger, and released it text book style.  We were thigh to waist deep in the water.  The hook could not be removed fast enough, so the leader was cut at the hook.  The ranger whom pulled up to watch us was impressed.  I looked at him, smiled, and said “Like That!”   His response was one word … “impressive”.   This release was per Delaware State Law, you have to get in the water with these beasts to correctly release them.  You are not allowed to pose for pictures with these protected sharks either, that is considered possession.  We have tons of pictures of the sharks we caught on our DSF Facebook page, and they are legal.  We were only allowed to beach/land a shark if the research team was on site.  If we had 2 sharks and could only process one, we would have to release the other, per Delaware Laws.  Many people are catching sharks, I am catching the flak, and I knew this was coming.  They are using the excuse “Those people on that website are doing this, why can’t I?” ….  DSU has permits we are using to catch these sharks, you do not have permits.  Please stop purposely catching sharks, and dragging them out of the water, you will get a ticket, which will be YOUR fault, not ours.  People always get excited, when sharks are caught from our beaches.  They live in the ocean, get over it.  A friend of mine that works charters once told me … ” I can smell the boardwalk fries and candy when we catch some of these bigger bull sharks.”  That catch and release we did yesterday afternoon … hardly a soul on that beach knew we reeled in a sand tiger shark.  Not dragging it up the beach draws zero attention, we had more spectators for the giant ray.  I should have filmed that catch and release, it was text book.  The funny thing is between Friday and Saturday night we caught and released over 25 sand tiger sharks in 24 hours, the quota that took 3 weeks, and we could have filled the rest of the tags.  Good ol’ fishin … when it is on, it is on!  Honestly after these 3 weeks of surf fishing with so many different people and techniques, I could write the book on surf fishing for sharks in Delaware.

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sunrise, herring point beach, cape henlopen state park
Sunrise Sunday morning the end of Delaware surf fishing’s shark week on Herring Point beach in Cape Henlopen State Park. We had a good time.

Saturday afternoon I geared up with a kingfish rig and squid.  Casted to the clean water, and immediately hooked up a fat kingfish, spot, spike trout, pompano, redfish, and croakers all on squid.  All day long, at the bottom of the outgoing into the beginning of the incoming tides.  I took the Coosa Jackson Kayak for a spin, it is much easier to paddle around during the day.  The porpoises were following me, and playing with the boat, that was really cool.  Everyone near us started fishing, as soon as we started catching.  There are a lot of croakers in the bay, the little ones mostly.  Since the water has cooled off a great deal we are seeing bigger croakers farther out front.  A friend yesterday was hammering 2 pounders off shore, can’t recall where he said he was.  😉   Massey’s Landing has been producing puppy drum, sheepshead, croaker, bluefish, and flounder mostly on sand fleas and clam, flounder on minnows and gulp.  The inlet has been hot for bluefish, shorty stripers and trout all on sand fleas and flies.  There are fish all over the place, you just have to put in the time.  Sunday I met a lot of people leaving or coming onto the beach.  This has been a lot of fun, surf fishing for science.  I have taken a lot of grief from people about this shark research.  For the rude gentlemen whom said “I am going to shark until I die” that called us all Hacks on our Facebook page, you can go straight to the DSU website and see for yourself, exactly what, and why they are studying sand tiger sharks.  We just catch and release.

The Kalmar Nyckel tall ship of Delaware is at the Lewes ferry terminal on display
The Kalmar Nyckel tall ship of Delaware is at the Lewes ferry terminal on display

I am trying to keep the raffle alive.  I will be at Old Bay Restaurant on route 1 for happy hour, 4 – 6:30 p.m. I will stay until 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday night.  I will have tickets available, and are now also available at Sparky’s Seafood Shanty, ask Angie.  There is a social paddle tonight with Delaware Paddlesports at Cape henlopen State Park’s fishing pier at 7 p.m.  It has been brought to my attention that many people actually surf fishing are being “hassled” by rangers, while people are “pose” fishing right next to them.  I do not have an answer for you kids as to why this is happening.  Suzanne Martin said she was made to feel inferior for being a woman fishing the surf, I will not repeat the snide comment said to her, but it was wrong and tasteless.  I do not know why that was done to her, she surf fishes more than most, and loves the sport.   I took it upon myself to apologize to her.  I am sorry some of you feel put off by this, I do not know what to say.  You are following the rules, and still being hassled.  By the way the rules state you need bait OR lures.  You do not need “live” bait, that is just silly.  If you are using just lures, you have to constantly cast, you know, fish.  I watched a friend get hassled yesterday, he was surf fishing, the people next to him had their plate on the dashboard, and no one even bothered them.  Their fishing rod didn’t have line on it, yet no one checked them while they were busy playing cornhole.  So I apologize to any of you being hassled for actually actively surf fishing.  I will say this … most of this happens during the weekends, when the beaches are already over crowded.  One day soon the beaches will be regulated for numbers of vehicles.  The free surf tags for first responders is going to pass, that will be over 10,000 free beach access tags to go along with the 10,000 already out there.  So you will have to compete for space with some one who has a free tag, but look on the bright side, regulating the vehicles will force the parks to regulate the posers.  They will have to hire more people. This will kill the state for money in the long run, since posers will stop buying tags, which is where a majority of this money comes from (which is what we tried to tell them).  Problem solved, no more posers, less money spent in the community, and they will go find beach access elsewhere.  I am sorry to say this, but that is what this will boil down to in the long run.  At this rate I may as well apologize for everything, that seems to be all I have been doing all weekend.  Making up for other people’s shortcomings.

Fish On!!

Rich King

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