Florida Keys shark fishing is red hot, pulsating action
Florida Keys shark fishing has become the ultimate sport.
Why? Because sharks are everywhere. In the bays, the flats, the ocean deep, and even in freshwater.
However for many people, just the sound of the name shark makes their blood run cold.
They envision heartless, merciless killers who stalk, rip and tear. They see blood dripping from horrible gaping mouths.
In truth, not all sharks are like this. Some, like the spinner and blacktip, are even kind of cute. Nor are all sharks dangerous.
However all sharks are becoming, to varying degrees - endangered worldwide. The reason for this is over fishing, and it's usually the recreational fisherman who is responsible.
Why Are Sharks Over Fished?
The reason for the over fishing is that people first of all don't have any particular affinity for sharks. They'd sooner kill one then leave it out there to kill them.
Dangerous and Angry Shark Going After Bait Florida Keys Public Libraries, Don DeMaria Collection, Flickr
Second, sharks are plentiful, or so we thought. They're typically found in saltwater but both the bull shark and river shark can handle freshwater.
Shark can be found in the super shallow flats, or as deep as 6,000+ feet. Unfortunately the once large numbers are shrinking substantially each year.
Landed Shark Florida Public Libraries, Don DeMaria Collection, Flickr
Third, Florida Keys shark fishing is easy, especially if blood is involved. With their keen sense of smell, they're rather like the blood hound of the water. If you supply a source, they'll come and get dinner.
Their sense of smell is so fine tuned that they can detect the scent of 1 drop of blood in 1 million drops of seawater. The nurse shark's olfactory senses are even more developed as they have nasal barbels that are located outside of the nostrils and mouth.
Landed Hammerhead Shark Florida Public Libraries, Don DeMaria Collection, Flickr
The fact that sharks are drawn to the scent of blood is the key reason they're so dangerous. This is especially true for divers, snorkelers and anyone playing in the water.
If you nick yourself on a sharp piece of coral, scratch a mosquito bite, or do anything that draws blood, you risk the chance of a shark being attracted to you.
Shark Hanging Outside by a Fishing Sign www.photolib.noaa.gov
Fourth, you can go Florida Keys shark fishing anywhere. You can wet a line off a bridge or a pier. You can even catch one while sipping a beer in your own backyard.
Of course if you go Florida Keys shark fishing in deeper water you'll catch the bigger shark. Closer in you'll still bring in some big ones, although the average length is around 2' - 5' in the coastal areas.
Last but certainly not least, is the thrill of the catch. A hooked shark is about as crazy as it can get at the other end. The thrashing and fighting will have your adrenalin pumping for days.
Large Caught Hammerhead Shark Florida Keys Public Libraries, Don DeMaria Collection, Flickr
As of late 2011, it was determined that two very popular species were highly endangered. Both the hammerhead and tiger shark are now under a protected government umbrella enforced by Florida Keys shark fishing restrictions.
However, until more fishermen adopt this catch and release mentality, it will take some time for the different species to make a strong comeback. Til then, they'll stay on the precipice of danger.
Florida Keys Shark Fishing Tips and Techniques
When Florida Keys shark fishing, people usually go out into the deeper, open water or in the channels and around bridges.
Standard equipment usually entails heavy rods, heavy line, 200 - 250 monofilament leader or heavy wire leader, and large hooks typically up to 10/0.
If you're spin casting, you'll also want to use a lot of drag so the shark doesn't swallow the line. If it gets into his gut he has access to your line and can bite through. If you use locked drag, you'll hook the mouth and he'll only be able to bite the heavy mono or wire leader.
When Florida Keys shark fishing, include in your arsenal some chum, or nice cut up fresh bait such as tuna, bonito, or barracuda. You can even catch barracuda, which happens to be a tasty favorite. Once you've caught the
barracuda, hook one on and then begin to troll.
Tiger Shark Fishing Courtesy of YouTube and BNM Charters
The magic of the fresh scent of blood combined with the sound of a barracuda trying to get off the hook is the ringing of dinner bells to a shark. Now you just have to sit back and wait for that blood pumping adrenalin action to begin.
Florida Keys shark fishing is incredibly popular because they're one of the easiest fish to catch. Anyone can catch a shark. This is why some anglers feel that enticing them with bait is too much like child's play.
More often you'll find that anglers have decided to up the ante. Increasing the challenge by
Florida Keys fly fishing with lighter weight tackle is becoming one of the most popular ways of catching shark. This also gives the angler the opportunity of sight fishing as opposed to throwing out 'dinner' and waiting for the guest to arrive.
In reality, sight fishing makes the event more of a hunt. The angler is able to choose the fish he wants. This possibly makes Florida Keys shark fishing safer as you don't have to wonder who or what is at the other end.
For example, if you see a tiger, you'll probably pass. If it's a smaller blacktip, spinner, or blacknose then you'll be inclined to toss the fly and see if the shark is up to your challenge.
Picture yourself in a kayak or canoe, floating in the calm shallow water. Your mission is to take on one of these sharks with nothing but 20 pound light weight tackle. The thrill is obvious. It certainly equals the pulsating excitement of fighting a crazed mako while offshore fishing Florida Keys deeper waters.
No matter what method you employ when Florida Keys shark fishing, you need to remember these fish are not happy about being caught. They're not just unhappy about it, they're super mad.
Here's a video of anglers on a deep sea fishing charter who managed to catch and release two tiger sharks in one day!
As such they can pose a real danger to you. You need to be wary, and make sure you don't get any body parts too close to their mouths when cutting the line. If this is your first time shark fishing, you'd be advised to go out with a qualified Florida Keys charter fishing company - at least until you know what to expect and how to handle one of these brutes.
Popular Varieties of Florida Keys Sharks
There are many species of shark in the waters around the world and off the Florida Keys. Some of the one's more commonly found in the Florida Keys are blacknose, blacktip, bull, hammerhead, lemon, mako, nurse, sandbar, spinner and tiger.
Some sharks are more dangerous than others. Mako, and tiger are two species to be especially careful of in the waters off the Florida Keys. Others, like the blacknose pose little to no problem for humans.
Sharks are also relatively fast swimmers. They have a cruise speed of about 5 miles an hour but when they're ready to attack, they can get up to 12 miles an hour. The fact that they're fast swimmers amplifies when you're near one of the more aggressive sharks.
For example, the mako has a nasty disposition and unfortunately is able to reach speeds of 30 miles per hour. If you're in the vicinity of one of these sharks, you'll need to exercise caution and make sure you can get to safety quickly, or properly protect yourself.
Blacknose Shark in Florida Keys www.wikimedia.org
The blacknose is smaller, averaging about 5 feet in length and is often targeted by the larger sharks. It feeds on smaller fish and spends much of it's time in shallow water in lagoons and
Florida Bay where the bottom is sandy or muddy. This shark is not aggressive and poses the least threat to man.
When Florida Keys shark fishing, blacknose is a great fish to fly fish for. You can also use light weight spin cast tackle. This is also one of the more popular eating fish in the shark family.
Florida Keys Blacktip www.noaa.gov, Photo David Burdick
The blacktip averages about 5 feet in length, and for it's size and weight, puts up a terrific fight when hooked. This is why it's one of the most fished for species.
Once caught, it will leap and jump into the air, fighting to get off the hook. This drama considerably adds to the excitement of bringing one in.
They're found in all the waters surrounding the Keys, including the shallow flats where they make a good choice for Florida Keys fly fishing. The younger ones are also typically found nearer to shore.
When Florida Keys shark fishing for blacktip, you can use a canoe or kayak. If you're in one of these watercraft, you may determine it to be safer to target smaller shark.
You also must successfully wear the shark out before bringing it close in. Otherwise, even a small shark can still present a danger or capsize the canoe or kayak.
Out of the many shark species in these waters, the blacktip is the one that usually is not aggressive. If it approaches, it typically can be scared off without too much trouble.
The exception to this rule is if other sharks are present and a feeding frenzy is going on. In that case, if provoked, the blacktip will most likely attack. If a blacktip attacks, unlike the tiger or mako who will remove limbs or worse, the blacktip usually removes only chunks. This means an attack from one is rarely life threatening.
Oddly enough, considering these facts, the greatest number of shark bites in Florida happen to be attributed to the blacktip.
Landed Bull Shark Photo Courtesy of Pterantula, Flickr
Florida Keys shark fishing for bull is very popular because they're found everywhere, including the freshwater lagoons and rivers. They'll swim in water as shallow as three feet and have a history of attacking humans because they go where we go. They will also attack large creatures, which again is why humans are at risk around bulls.
These sharks are not in the least bit particular about what they eat. When you consider their incredible vision, keen sense of smell, and the fact that they're absolutely everywhere, these sharks deserve to be feared.
However, they're great for Florida Keys shark fishing. The reason is they're die hard fighters. When you hook one, you'll experience a heart pounding battle that will have the hair on the back of your neck standing up even when the battle is over.
Florida Keys Hammerhead Shark With Santa Claus In Mouth Florida Keys Public Libraries, Don DeMaria Collection, Flickr
The hammerhead is probably one of the oddest looking of sharks. It's nose has a flat, disc like horizontal shape at the end. The wider spread of the nostrils and the resulting wider spacing between the eyes enhance both it's ability to smell and see.
Hammerheads have a number of sub-species such as the bonnethead which is often fished for. The bonnethead is a small, very timid shark that presents no danger to man.
The 8 different species of hammerhead average anywhere from about 6 feet in length to the monster Greater Hammerhead which averages 20 feet.
The Greater Hammerhead typically feeds on the bottom looking for rays, which means it's not usually found where humans are. However, if provoked, due to their large size and bad temper, they could inflict serious harm and damage.
Florida Keys Lemon Shark www.en.wikipedia.org, Photo Albert Kok
Lemon sharks are one of the larger shark species and are most often caught on the flats. When Florida Keys shark fishing, they're one of the better choices for fly fishing.
They'll often be found lying on the sandy bottom which is unusual for sharks since the sand gets in their nostrils making it difficult for them to breathe.
Nurse sharks are another species that will lie on the sandy bottoms. Since lemon shark's pigmentation is similar to the sand, they're also difficult to see.
The lemon shark is also fairly easy going and is highly unlikely to attack humans. A few incidents have been reported but no deaths have occurred.
Mako aka Shortfin Mako Shark
Shortfin Mako Shark www.noaa.gov
The mako shark is perhaps one of the most deserving of sharks to be feared. They're absolutely vicious when caught and are very large in size which makes them even more dangerous.
They've been known to leap 20 feet or more into the air. Always on the defense and in full attack mode, they've crashed into, as well as leaped into, the boats of their captors.
Picture one of these monsters leaping into a boat. What do you do? There's not much room in a boat to begin with. Factor in a super angry, over sized fish that's thrashing about taking up even more valuable space.
How do you get rid of it? How do you avoid getting bit? This is one of those true "Jaws" moments, and if it happens to you, you want to make sure you get out alive.
Florida Keys shark fishing is a lot of fun, but hunting for mako shark needs to be reserved for the more experienced fisherman. This is not a fish for the weak of heart. You need to be well prepared before you decide to go one on one with a mako because they will come back and bite you.
Florida Keys Nurse Shark Facing Off With an Eel Photo Courtesy amanderson2, Flickr
The nurse shark is a slow moving shark with an incredible sense of smell. They average about 10 feet in length, and since they're nocturnal feeders, they're sluggish during the day when humans are around.
If you like to
Florida Keys scuba, they're the shark that is most often seen by divers exploring wreck and reef sites.
The nurse shark is also a rather odd looking creature. It's nasal barbals hang down giving it a catfish-like appearance.
Because it will often lay on the sandy bottom of the ocean, this 'laziness' and it's 'fish'-like appearance can make it seem non-threatening.
Don't ever be fooled into thinking a nurse shark is just a slug not to be concerned about. Even though they're not normally a problem, they'll viciously attack if provoked - or hmmm ... interrupted during one of their many sexual encounters.
Sandbar Shark in Florida Keys www.noaa.gov
The sandbar shark is typically found in shallow water over muddy or sandy bottoms, hence the name, It's also referred to as the brown shark or thick skinned shark.
Averaging about 7 feet in length, it's one of the largest sharks in the water. This species migrates to the Florida Keys every winter, although some stay as year long residents. When Florida Keys shark fishing, the sandbar shark is the most commonly caught of all the sharks.
Spinner Shark in Florida Keys www.noaa.gov
The spinner shark or brown shark is sleek and averages between 5' and 6' in length. They're a schooling shark and they also chase schooling fish. When they're in attack mode and enter a school of fish they'll often leap out of the water in a spinning motion, hence the name.
They're not a vicious shark and there has never been a report of a spinner hurting humans. There have been reports however of them leaping over surfers who happen to be in their feeding zone. An incident like that would certainly give someone reason to pause for a moment, and take a deep breath before chasing the next wave.
This species also happen to be rather cute, especially when they're still pups.
Vicious Tiger Shark www.noaa.gov, Photo Paula Whitfield
Tiger sharks are to be feared - no question. Second to the Great White for attacks on humans, they're voracious feeders, who eat and attack most anything.
Tigers also prowl the shallow waters where humans like to play. This makes them one of the greatest risks to anyone enjoying beach time, and splashing in even just a few feet of water.
When a tiger shark decides to bite, it doesn't nip. It rips, tears and eats. Knowing this, be especially watchful for them, even when you don't think it's possible for a shark to be 'out there'. This is when you want to think "Jaws" just to stay safe.
It's important to remember when Florida Keys shark fishing, or perhaps "big game hunting" is a better phrase, that caution must be exercised.
Even the most played out apex monster will bite, even if close to death. Never bring one to your boat until it's been completely exhausted. Always exercise extreme caution when working to cut it free.
If you're planning on keeping it, remember that in the excitement of landing a shark, people often hurry to get close. Don't do this until you're absolutely sure it's dead.