It Might Be Nice If I Could See Some Sharks

Date:  March 23 & 24, 2013

Report ByChris

Team MembersChris, Craig, Justin, Chad, Tommy

Weather Conditions:

  • General – light, misting rain Saturday in the AM, overcast entire day Saturday, thick fog rolled in Saturday early evening and stayed around until after sunset.  Cold front came through late Saturday night.  Sunday was sunny and clear, but cold and windy.
  • Air Temperature – Highs in the mid 70s lows in the low 60s
  • Wind – 5 MPH South East Pre-frontal wind after the front moved though wind picked up to 30 MPH North West wind.
  • Water temperature – 69 degrees
  • Waves – 2-4 breakers with 1-2 foot swells past the breakers,
  • Water Color – muddy and then cleared up to a nice green color with 2’ visibility.

The time had finally come for our first shark fishing trip of the year.   I had spent the last few months preparing gear, developing new tactics, and studying as much as I could to make this season our best one yet.  I still don’t know how I made it through the work week knowing that come Saturday morning I would be back at home on the sand.

The weather was going to be the main challenge we would face over the weekend.  A strong front was going to roll in Saturday night that would bring strong winds and cold weather.  It was going to be overcast and rainy all during the day Saturday, but nothing short of a hurricane was going to keep us off the beach.

Saturday morning finally arrived.  Justin and I left the house at 7:30 AM and headed over to pick up Big Red, our shark fishing trailer, from the welder, who had been performing some maintenance and upgrades.  He did a really great job and I couldn’t be more impressed with the work.  He fixed a bunch of the welds that we were having problems with and devised a new system to make our rails fold up and down and to be pinned into place.  After we got Big Red hooked up, we headed over to Craig’s to load her back up and head to the beach.

We were on the road by 9:15 AM with an hour and a half trip ahead of us.  The excitement was killing us.  I had read a report on Extreme Coast from the weekend prior in the same area that we were planning on fishing where the angler had caught 20 sandbar sharks in 2 days.  The average size of his sharks was about 6.5’.  That report kept me up every night that week!  We spent the hour and a half drive talking about what our weekend might bring and that if we were to have half the luck that guy did then we would have a heck of a trip.

Finally, we arrived at a new spot that I had scouted in the off season at 10:45 AM.  We immediately began catching bait, setting up shark rods with leaders and weights, and getting the kayaks ready to deploy our first baits.  Big whiting, black drum, and sheepshead were plentiful in the surf.  Our plan was to try a variety of baits and tackle setup to see what would work best.  Our first baits went out right around noon; a huge meaty whiting, a nice sized black drum, and a bloody plate sized stingray were on the menu.

Two new reels and the new rod I finished building just in time for the trip

New Reel on the rod I finished building just days before the trip

Whiting rigged up ready to go

Within the next 45 minutes our biggest fears came to life.  We watched our lines slowly start to bow and drift into the current.  The seaweed had found its way onto our lines and was weighing them down and wiping them out one by one.  We had even made special 2 lb. weights with stainless steel legs for this trip that didn’t stand a chance to the 50 lb. clumps that built up on the line.

Pre-deployment meeting as Tommy’s daughter watches on

At 2 PM we made a group decision to pack up camp and head to another spot that we had caught many sharks at in the past.  The new spot was on the other side of a pass that leads to the bay system.  We thought the pass could make a difference on the weed and conditions.

We couldn’t have been more right.  As soon as we got to the new spot we were greeted with beautiful, much calmer, green, clear water.  There were pelicans and seagulls diving in the surf.  The best part was the seaweed was very scarce here.  After being discouraged for the last few hours, this new spot gave us a second wind like a jolt of lightning.

Justin relaxing at the new spot

Justin getting ready to kayak in the cold water as Chad and Tommy help him suit up

Rushing to get baits out, we deployed 5 rods back to back.  We again had a spread of baits that consisted of jack crevalle, stingray, whiting, sheepshead, and black drum.  As I cross the 3rd sandbar, kayaking the 4th bait, I hear my brother on the two-way radio call to me and say, “Chris, you better drop it there and turn around.  I can’t see you any more”.  I turned around and realized that I could barely see the shore.  A thick blanket of fog had overcome us at a tremendous speed.  I kayaked about 50 more yards, dropped the bait, and headed back to shore.

Black Drum rigged with double J hooks

It was now about 6 PM.   Justin headed out for what would be our last bait deployment of the day.  The fact was that the fog was just too thick.  We couldn’t see anything past the 1st sandbar.  Honestly, we probably shouldn’t have let Justin take that last bait out (A key to staying safe during this process is maintaining visual contact.  If something happens to one of us we have a rescue kayak ready to spring into action).  When he got back we all had a discussion and decided that it wasn’t safe to go out in the kayak any more, even though we had 2 other rods ready to go, tons of fresh bait, and a decent amount of daylight left.

Fog so thick you can’t see the dunes

Way too thick to kayak

Having deployed all the baits we could for the evening we decided to rinse off, throw on some fresh clothes and sit around the camp fire.  I got undressed, rinsed off, wrapped up in a towel, and headed for my clean clothes in the truck as Justin went to take his turn rinsing off.   Right when Justin starts rinsing off the 9/0 with a chunck of sheepshead starts a slow roll.  I realize that we are the only 2 near the rod and we are both wearing nothing but towels.  I climbed the ladder to the platform as quickly as I could ready to do battle in my birthday suit when the fish dropped the bait and decided not to come back.  Thank God because that could have made for some of the most embarrassing blackmail pictures.  Imagine a 230 lb white boy fighting a shark in nothing but a fighting belt.  It’s enough to make a blind man scream.

Camp set up for night fishing

Things remained pretty quiet until right as the sun went down.  Almost every rod got picked up.  We had 6 runs in 45 minutes without a fish ever committing to a bait.  My guess is they were all small sharks because they only took about 10 feet of line each run and dropped it.  We all sat around the fire as our adrenaline rushes slowly subsided after the frenzy of runs slowed and then stopped.  We spent the rest of the evening talking about women, fishing, and the good old days and eating a beach dinner.  Around 11 PM we all decided to settle in to our tents and call it a night.  We still had 5 rods out at this point and we were pretty sure that 3 of them still had bait.

Sleeping on the beach is one of my favorite things to do.  There is nothing like falling asleep under the stars with a nice gulf breeze carrying through your tent and listening to the sound of the waves rolling in the background, hoping to be awoken by the chaos of a reel screaming as a shark picks up a bait.  That peacefulness ended around 3 AM, but not by the sweet sound of a screaming drag, but instead by the predicted cold front.  Poseidon decided to let us feel his wrath.  The winds were upwards in the mid 30 MPH range.  Justin and Tommy’s tent collapsed.  Craig’s tent pretty much collapsed.  I thought that my tent cot was going to get tipped over.  Chad was surprisingly comfortable.  Fortunately, we all made it through the night, some with a little more sleep than others.

Craig is sleeping somewhere in that pile!

We awoke to clear, sunny skies and a furious wind.  When we brought in our baits, my suspicion of small sharks toying with our baits was solidified.  The jack crevalle roast was gone, the jack crevalle head was fully intact, the 2 rods with sheepsheads had the bait taken, and the rod with the big ray had a bunch of small 3-4” diameter bite marks taken out of it.  With the 30 MPH wind sandblasting us and blowing directly into the gulf, we decided it wasn’t safe to try to kayak any more that morning.

What we woke up to

We spent the next hour or so packing up and reflecting on our trip.  We left the beach slightly disappointed yet fulfilled at the same time.  We had our first skunking since July of 2011, but I feel that we couldn’t have fished any harder.  We left nothing on the table.  Luck just wasn’t on our side this weekend, but we still had a great time and were able to be back on the Texas Gulf Coast doing the activity I love most in life, fishing for sharks.  It’s early in the year and we have a long season ahead of us.  We’ll get ‘em next time.


Categories: camping, fishing, Land Based Shark Fishing, outdoors, shark, Shark Fishing Reports, Surf Fishing, texas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sharkin Before the Wedding

Date:  September 20 – 23, 2012

Report By:  Chris

Team Members:  Chris, Craig, Tom, Justin, Josh, Chad, Tommy B

Weather Conditions:  Sunny, light current, light wind, flat calm surf, muddy water, temperature in the high 80’s

Day 1

This weekend marked one of the most important events in the course of a young man’s life, my bachelor party.  Instead of doing the normal drunken, shenanigan filled party that most do for their bachelor’s party, I opted for a weekend of drunken, shenanigan filled fishing!

Months ago we found the perfect house in Crystal Beach, Texas.  Thursday afternoon, we all hit the road with our sights set on the beach.  We were going to be there for the long weekend in hopes of putting our biggest shark yet on the beach.  Now is also the time of the year on the Texas Upper Coast when Bull Red Fish are schooling in the surf, so we were hoping on getting our hands on a couple of them also.

We were greeted with beautiful weather and flat water.

We finally made it to the beach in the late afternoon on Thursday and were greeted by cool weather, a calm breeze, flat water, and above all else a beautiful house as close to the beach as you can get.  We were right on top of the dunes!  We settled in, picked out beds and waited for the rest of the guys to arrive while relaxing on the porch drinking a few cold ones.

Josh, Craig, Tommy B, Tom, and Seth ready to do some fishing

Once everyone who was supposed to show up that evening was there, we decided to do a little fishing.  We pulled the trailer out on the beach right in front of the house and started getting some shark rods rigged up.  We tried to catch some fresh bait on our sabiki rigs with no luck.  Nothing but little hardheads could be caught.  Luckily, we came with plenty of fresh stingray, cow nose ray, and whiting.

We rigged up one rod with a cow nose ray, one with a southern stingray, and one with a bull whiting.  We quickly got the lines paddled out and were soon enjoying each other’s company  in some folding chairs waiting on a fish.

Craig and Josh looking on as Tommy B puts a hurtin on a fish

Once night crept up on us the action was fast and furious.  First, the rod with the cow nose ray started to scream!  The shark took a long hard run with the bait.  I scurried up the ladder onto the platform, pulled the rod out of the holder, and tightened down the drag and… nothing.  The shark must have missed the hook.  Oh well!

Tommy in battle

A few minutes later one of the rods rigged up for bull reds took off strong!  We decided to let Tommy B. get this one.  I handed off the rod to him and it was pretty clear that he was hooked up to a nice sized fish.  We could see that this fish was doing some strong head shakes, so we weren’t sure if it was a red or a small shark.  Tommy made short work of the beast and as the fish emerges from the wade gut we can tell it’s a nice bull red!

After a few pictures, Tommy got it back in the water and it swam off strong.  Amid all the chaos and lack of preparation, we didn’t get a measurement on this fish, but I’d say it was in the low 40” range.

A blurry picture, but it was a very nice sized red fish

Now we just had one bait out for sure; the southern stingray.  Not too long after we released the bull red, the last rod bends over and starts to scream.  I again hustled up the ladder, grabbed the rod, and slowly tightened down the drag and… fish on!  Once I got the drag fully tightened down, the fish kept pulling hard!  I thought that we had a monster!  Then all of a sudden it just felt like dead weight.  I was actually thinking that we had lost the fish.

Chris bringing in a shark

By the time I had reeled up to the 2nd sand bar the fish decided to come alive.  I could feel head shakes and the fish finally pulling back.  There was definitely something hooked, but what?  Once everyone was finally able to grab the leader, I loosened the drag, set the rod down, and went to help.  They grabbed the fish and pulled in a nice 5 foot black tip!

Chris beaching the shark

It turns out Tommy B is a great photographer. A look inside the sharks mouth.

Holding the shark up

It had been a long time since we had caught anything but bull sharks, so it was nice to see a different species.  Not the monster we had been hoping for all summer, but another beautiful fish!

The cownose ray that had been hit earlier in the night. You can see teeth marks 1/8th of an inch away from the hook.

By the time all the action was over, it was only about 9 PM.  We had plenty of time to clean up, grab something to eat, and play a few games of beer pong before calling it a night.

Day 2

Well we didn’t get up as early as we had hoped Friday.  Actually what had even woke me up at all was my head pounding from the night before.  Nevertheless, I was up, and fortunately, so was Tommy and Billy.  We decided to go ahead and see if we couldn’t get into some trout since the conditions were as perfect as they were the day before.

We hit the beach armed with various artificial lures as well as a cast net just in case some live bait started running through.  This is where my biggest mistake of the trip happened.  I forgot to bring my camera out with us wading.  I had just purchased a new waterproof digital camera for times like this and I forgot it.  The morning turned out to be one of my favorite fishing mornings ever.

There were millions of hand sized shad schooled up in the surf!  Millions!  Predator fish were busting them left and right!  We even saw what appeared to be a 5 foot blacktip go aerial through a school of shad just like you see on Air Jaws on Shark Week.  Birds were diving everywhere, bait was jumping and predators were going nuts!… and I forgot the camera.

We tried with artificial for about an hour with only a few ladyfish, sand trout, and gafftops caught before switching to live bait.  I was able to cast net more than enough shad for us to use.  Once we switched to shad the action was on.

We caught countless huge gafftops around 20”.  Tommy caught 2 sharks around 24-30” that I was able to identify as fine tooth sharks, and then we got into the bull reds.  I hooked 3 big bull reds, but landed 2 while wading chest deep.  If you have never caught a bull red on light tackle, you should try it! They pull like a freight train.

By noon or so, the shad schools moved out deep and we were worn out.  We decided to go in, get cleaned up and eat some breakfast.

The rest of the day wasn’t very eventful as far as fishing, but as far as bachelor party shenanigans it may have been one of the best.  Without giving too many details, I’ll just say we played a game of wise wizards and drank 170 beers between 9 guys.  We all ended up passing out between 2 and 5 am.  Fishing in the morning wasn’t looking good.

Spider Man and Super Man showed up for an epic battle

About 3/4 of the way into Wise Wizards

This picture pretty much sums up the night.

Day 3

No one made it up for a morning wade!  I didn’t make it up until almost 11.  We had some guys that were out cold until 1 or so.  As you can imagine, we weren’t very active that afternoon.  We all nursed our hangovers with some of Billy’s homemade red beans and rice and Bloody Marys.

Around 4 or so, we decided to get shark camp set up for one more night.  Since it was now Saturday, the beach was ridiculously crowded.  We usually purposely go out of our way to avoid crowds, but there was no avoiding them here.  We had never really fished with this big of a crowd and knew that it would pose some challenges, but we gave it a try anyways.

In no time we had the trailer set up at the high tide mark and began kayaking lines.  We set out 2 bull red rods rigged with the last of our whiting left over from a previous trip, while we rigged up some shark rods for long drops.

Mullet rigged up ready to be yakked

No more than 10 minutes after I got back from kayaking one of the bull red rods, we saw it bend over and start to take some drag.  I grabbed the rod, slowly tightened down the drag and we had another fish on!  I made quick work of the fish and had this nice red landed on the beach.

Chris holding up his bull red

Once we had him released it was time to get some shark rods out.  Again we rigged up a cow nose ray, a southern ray, and our secret weapon, a big, fresh, bloody bonita that we had been saving for this trip.  Due to a certain level of intoxication that I maintained all weekend, I didn’t get all the nice bait pictures that I usually do.  We quickly got all the baits deployed and camp set up.

We couldn’t keep bait on the red fish rods more than 10 minutes at a time without them getting picked off.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to hook into another red all day.

Tommy ready to unhook a shark

Right around dinner time, a rod rigged with cow nose ray took a nice strong run.  Josh got to the rod just in time for it to slow down to a stop.  He left the rod and waited to see if the fish was there and… nothing.  A few  minutes later the same rod takes off again for a short run with the same outcome.  Finally, once the fish took another short 3rd run, Josh decided to bring it in.   We were pretty sure that we had a small blacktip hooked.

This battle was pretty uneventful and very reminiscent of the fight with the blacktip from the night before.  He felt nothing until the fish reached the 2nd bar and decided to fight back, but Josh made short work of the fish and ended up landing a nice 55” bull shark.

Shark on the sand

A remora that was piggy backing a ride on the bull shark.

Unhooking the bull shark

By the time we beached the shark we had drawn a huge crowd.  It was a pain in the butt trying to get pictures and get the fish unhooked safely with strangers taking their own pictures and even posing with us while we try to get our own!  It was chaos!  We finally got the shark unhooked, measured, and let go, while people from the crowd were yelling, “Why are you letting it go?!?!”  Some people just think all sharks should be killed I guess.

Tommy holding up the bull shark as a crowd gathered

Tom, Chris and Tommy B with the bull shark

The shark swam off strong, the crowd dissipated, and we were able to settle back into camp.  The rest of the afternoon and early evening was uneventful.  That is, until nightfall.

Once the sun set and the stars came out, so did the sharks.  Our first run was on the bonita.  It was a strong short run that got our adrenaline going.  There was no hook up so we let the bait sit.  30 minutes later, I heard the loudest scream I’ve heard yet coming from the bonita rod.  Line was blasting off the reel at a super speed.  The fish had the bait for at least 30 seconds as I shot up the ladder, grabbed the rod, tightened the drag, and nothing.

The scraps of the bonita that were left

Since this is how the last 2 sharks we caught felt at first, I decided to reel in just in case.  I realized there was nothing on the rod after a few minutes, but decided to bring it in the rest of the way anyways.  What we found was just scraps of the once 10 lb. bonita.

We had one more short, quick run that evening.  The cow nose ray got picked up for about 10 feet and then dropped.  We waited an hour or so and decided to reel in the rest of our lines.  We found that the cow nose had a huge chunk missing.  This may have been our biggest shark of the year had it found the hook.  The bite was at least 12” across, which would have been bigger than the 7’ bull we had landed the previous trip.

The big bite from the cownose

This would have been a good shark

The night ended with a low key night of porch drinking.  I couldn’t have asked for a better bachelor’s party or any better people to share it with.  We made some great memories as usual and I think I got a few new people hooked on shark fishing.

She even let me get fishing themed wedding koozies. However, they mistakenly put the wrong designs on the wrong colors.

Categories: fishing, Land Based Shark Fishing, outdoors, shark, Shark Fishing Reports, Surf Fishing, texas, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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