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TOURNAMENT SHARKING

Shark tourneys lure lookers and anglers from all over—it’s big money and BIG fish!
By Darren Stiles
Tags: offshore

June is just about upon us and that means one thing to us offshore fishermen, shark season. June being the prime time for sharks on the East Coast means it’s also tournament time. With so many tournaments to enter during the month of June, the expectation of that monster mako being lifted off the boat at the end of the day can put the biggest smile on any crew’s face but can also put a nice dent in your wallet. Here are some ways to increase your chances of fattening your wallet at the end of the tournament instead of standing at the dock watching others weigh their fish.

THINKING AHEAD
Let’s take a look at some of the top things to consider when entering a tournament. First of all you have to make sure your crew is ready and each person knows their job when the hook-up comes. Many sharks are lost because people get excited during the battle or at the most critical times when gaffing. Most boats fishing in a shark tournament have fished in the years past and have this routine down, but if you aren’t one consider an experienced crew such as a charter boat for the first time.

For a crew you need a minimum of three guys. A driver, a rod man and a leader man; the driver can double as gaff man if you don’t have a fourth person. The driver should keep the boat in gear at all times except when he is ready to gaff if he is acting gaff man. He keeps the boat in the correct position during the fight. The rod man must keep constant pressure on the fish at all times. The leader man is to grab the leader as it comes up and guide the fish next to the boat gently, keeping steady pressure. As the fish is leadered to the boat, the gaff man moves into place ready to stick the flying gaff either in the gills or right behind the dorsal fin. Make sure your shot is good and hard. Take your time and get the fish close, put the gaff over the fish’s back and pull back hard.

When it comes to fighting a mako, especially at the boat, be ready for anything because they are known to jump. These fish are truly a warrior to the end so always take caution and be sure of what you are doing.

When it comes to fighting a mako, especially at the boat, be ready for anything because they are known to jump.

SETTING OUT
Shark fishing is a drifting and chumming game. When it comes to drifting you want to pick a spot that will allow your boat to drift over the most structure possible. When I say structure I am talking about fathom curves, bottom contour changes, wrecks and anything that holds bait or has some kind of bottom change. Makos will cruise up and down the structure feeding.

Just drifting over structure isn’t enough. You will want to look at temperature charts and find where the warm water is located. You will want to find water around 65 degrees, this is the mako’s most desired temperature.

Once you find the right water, you will want to make sure the wind and drift will allow you to cover the structure. If not you may have to pick another spot or consider doing constant short drifts throughout the day. Always have a backup spot or two just in case things aren’t right once you get to your location.

Another good way to pick a spot is to start by looking back over your logs of previous seasons. Always keep an ear open when on the docks because people talk and you may just hear that small piece of info that you need to put you in the right direction. Don’t always believe everything you hear but take it with a grain of salt and consider how valuable the source was that you got it from.

Once you have your location and temperature you need to look for bait in that area. Look for slicks in the water, birds, fish jumping and anything that is a sign of life. When fish are in the area they will leave a slick in the water that is visible to the eye.

If you have your temp., your structure and bait you now need to make sure the water is clean. Although sharks move constantly and will travel through dirty water your chances of hooking up increase dramatically if you are fishing in clean, clear water.


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