Fishing for sharks on the fly

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Captain Sampson removing a deep gut hook from a tiger shark the tricky way. He does a lot of work on developing blocker rigs with circle hooks to prevent gut hooking. Photo from Fish Finder Adventures website
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(October 2014) … Last night at the Saltwater Fly Anglers of Delaware club meeting we (I recently joined the club) had a guest speaker,  Captain Mark Sampson of Fish Finder Adventures.  He has been fishing the Delmarva area for over forty years and is quite an experienced captain.  He did a presentation last night on tagging mako sharks and fly fishing for sharks.  The tagging program is being conducted for Guy Harvey Research Institute and the NOVA Southeastern University.  Biologists are putting SPOT tags on Mako sharks to track their movements.  SPOT stands for Smart Position or Temperature Transmitting Tag and are commonly attached to the dorsal fin of the shark.  These tags are just like the ones used for tracking great whites and other sharks that the OCEARCH group is using.
The tags are so accurate that one was pinpointed in a shed next to a house in Nova Scotia when a Mako was caught and kept by a fishermen up there.  The tags go active when the shark surfaces, ping their location to tracking satellites, and then shut down until the next resurfacing.  Shutting down when submerged saves on battery life.  Captain Sampson has a passion for the research he helps to do catching these sharks, you could hear it in his voice.   Check out the website and their research efforts at they also charge to take passengers along during these tagging trips to help raise money.  Not only are the tags expensive, but the tracking costs money as well, it can cost up to six thousand dollars to track a single shark including the cost of the tag at eighteen hundred dollars.  I am already saving money to go on one of these tracking excursions, it sounds like quite an experience.  Much different from tagging sand tiger sharks in the surf like we have done in the past for Delaware State University.  A great deal of information can be learned from these tags compared to just regular tags.  Normally a tag is put on a shark or fish and then when caught again, if the tag is recovered, researchers know where the animal was caught. These SPOT tags give them real time migration tracking data, records a variety of measurements, such as temperature, salinity, and depth.  Much more informative for the shark research being conducted today.

fly fishing for sharks, lemon shark, fish finder adventures, florida keys
Lemon shark caught on a fly in the Florida keys by Captain Sampson. Photo from Fish Finder Adventures

The other part of Captain Sampson’s talk was about fly fishing, another passion of his. He takes a lot of people on fly fishing excursions here in Delmarva and the Florida Keys.  Many people like to fly fish for all kinds of saltwater fish and sharks are no exception.  He had a video he showed us of a hammerhead shark taking a fly out at sea.  Then we saw the video of the fly angler trying to reel  a mako  in, talk about a serious bend in a rod.  It was an exciting time for that angler you could see that in the expression on his face.  He had some footage of the first successful landing this mako on a fourteen weight fly rod.  The captain takes many fly fishing trips for false albacore, and bonito right here in our waters.  Mahi mahi is another fish commonly caught fly fishing in the open sea.  He had some other videos he showed us of great whites that visited the boat during these excursions, and a picture of a twelve footer about a mile form the beach in Ocean City, MD.  That picture brought up the tiger shark Septima that visited the Isle of Wight bay, what are the odds that a tagged shark would swim into the bay? Fly fishing for sharks is possible and looked like a lot of fun, now I just have to get the gear for one of these trips.  Captain Mark Sampson did a great presentation last night, it was enjoyed by everyone, and very informative.

Fish On!!

Rich King

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