Shark Fishing From The Surf Has Been Good

Catching sharks from the surf in Delaware can be tricky

(August 2018) … So you want to catch a shark from the surf eh?  This is no easy task if you are going to release some of these larger beasts the correct way.  The problem is what is the correct way?  The  Delaware law states to ensure it is done in a manner that is safe for both the angler and the shark.  Cutting the line immediately is the recommended technique, but that leaves a large hook in a shark’s mouth with line still attached which can be detrimental to the shark.   Especially if the hook is one of those high dollar stainless or aluminum ones, they will not dissolve.  Even the larger, cheaper hooks take time to dissolve. So how do you release it safer for the shark?  If you know what you are doing you can do it like we describe below, but there are degrees of experience.  What is normal for us that do this, looks crazy to people who do not.

delaware, surf fishing, shark, shand tiger, shark tagging program NOAA
Preparing to remove or cut the hook.

Since the prohibited species can’t be removed from the water we get in the water with them.  Yeah I know it is a little crazy, but if you know how to work a sand tiger shark it isn’t that bad or dangerous.  We do not recommend this to the inexperienced, ever. 
We had to do this for DSU when we tagged sand tigers.  We had to get the shark on the surf so the researchers could tag them and the only way to do that was go get the shark.  Never ever use a tail rope on these sharks in the surf.  Do not remove them from the water.   We get really wet keeping them in the surf area and breaking waves at times.  It is also a good idea to do this on the calmer surf days for your own safety. A day of five foot waves is not a good an idea for shark fishing from the surf.
Too much fight time can kill a shark from lactic acid build up. The shark swims off fine only to die later. Surf Anglers can’t back down on a shark, like on a boat. You have to horse it in fast, even run backwards and pull the rod with you, while reeling. Then run forward to pull more line and repeat. This will wear you out, that is why you need a crew. The guy reeling is dead tired at the end. This requires offshore gear, and heavy line.

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land based shark fishing
Jason Satterfield working the shark to position it to remove the hook.

Jason Satterfield, in the picture, and his crew get into the water with the shark and they cut the hooks with a bolt cutter if they cannot remove the hook in a matter of seconds with a dehooker.  Jason would rather lose a cheap hook than stress the shark.  The longer you stress the shark, the worse it can be for the shark.  Lactic acid buildup from the long fight will kill the shark, even if it swam off strong they die later. You have to get these sharks in fast. That takes real leg work and heavy offshore gear. Not your Walmart spinning set up.
These guys are also tagging the sharks with apex predator tags for NOAA, and they do that in the water as well.  I could spend hours describing how you do this so we will do a bit of a series on land based shark fishing in Delaware.

sand tiger shark tagging, delaware, sussex county, NOAA
Tagging the shark, this entire process takes about 20 seconds, the shark never leaves the water and is in no danger

Again we do not recommend anyone try this unless they are experienced or try it out with a crew that knows what they are doing.  When we tagged sharks I had a few crews out there of experienced anglers.  Buddy of mine looked at me when they had a shark to the surf line. 
“now what?”
  “Well … go get the shark” …
“Oh hell no! There it is right there, you go get it” 
And that is how I would up waist deep with ten foot sand tiger sharks.
  It is a pucker factor of fourteen, that I do not recommend. 
So why tell people about this?  Because some folks want to catch a shark and we want them to do it the right way for the shark’s sake.  The anglers are knowingly taking a risk, the shark was just hungry.
Also on a side note if you want a picture of you with a shark, this is how you do it.

  You have someone take a picture while you are working the shark, don’t pose.  Just get the job done let your friends take the pictures.  In this case Go Pros work great too, you can pull pictures off the video later.

Fish On!
Rich King

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