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Shark Fishing Port Aransas, Texas
By: Captain Scott Wigal

It is that time of year already when the chances of catching a trophy shark offshore Port Aransas, Texas is a daily goal. The anglers that charter fish with us this time of the year fully expect to tie into a monster fish. May and June and prime months for big sharks as they move into Texas waters to breed. Last year we noticed that 80% of the sharks we caught were big males. We try to practice catch and release on non edible species, especially females. The common species to Texas water this time of the year are blacktip, spinners, bull, dusky, silky, tiger, greater hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead and a few mako sharks still lingering around. The federal limit on sharks is one shark per boat with a 4 1/2 ft minimum length. 

We target the blacktip and spinner sharks behind inshore shrimpers that are dragging their nets. This is a very dangerous style of fishing. You are in close quarters with the shrimper inside his bridle cables and should not be done by novices. We use a heavy duty version of a 3 hook kingfish leader. I use 120 lb wire with a 5 ft length in front of the first hook. For bait we use ribbonfish, sand trout, boston mackerel or bonita strips. These baits are drifted over the moving shrimpers nets where awaiting sharks are feeding on the bycatch of the shrimp nets. These fish in the Spring range from 5-7 ft and upwards of 170 pounds. Hooking big sharks is easy with a little experience, boating them is very dangerous. I have been bitten twice and my legs have various scars from tails of big sharks ( over 60 stitches and staples in the past 10 yrs). This is respecting them and being very careful. I have learnt to flying gaff them and rope them. Swim platform were designed to hold sharks on my boats. Blacktips and spinners make excellent table fair. We cut their tails to bleed and ice them in fish bags after they are DEAD. 

With the federal red snapper closure opening I can still get my big shark if blacktipping doesn't pan out. I target wrecks between 80 to 200 feet of water. We anchor by the wrecks and start chumming. My customers bottom fish for amberjack, red snapper, grouper and other species while we place shark rods out at the various depths. I use Penn 50 Internationals spooled with Amillon 50 lb test line, with a 400 lb. wind on leader with 8-12 ft of 170 pound piano wire leader. Big strong flat hooks are a must. We vary our baits from live bait fish to dead mackerel, sand trout, bonita, jack fish or rays. We cut the baits in such a way that the shark can easily swallow it with little resistance. Hook placement is a critical part of good hook sets. We vary our baits from the surface on floats to the bottom covering the entire water column. It is not uncommon to hook other fish with these rigs. We have caught yellowfin tuna, huge amberjack, warsaw grouper, moray eel, big rays, and last year a 80 pound ling. I set my reels with the clicker on and just enough pressure that wave action doesn't pull off line. We have the boat anchored with a quick release on our anchor line. When the fish is hooked good we un-tie the boat and fight the fish in open water away from hangs and the wreck that can cut you off. Shark hits can either be really slow or screaming with lots of force. I let the fish run for 30-60 seconds, get the slack out of the line then set the hook hard. The average shark will show its self in 30 minute increments. We normally boat the between 1 and 1 1/2 hours. When alongside I place 2 flying gaffs in them then get pre made tail ropes around the head and tail. At this point the fight is over. If we release the fish they can be pulled into gaff range, photos shot and the leader cut close to the shark. They swim off never the wiser. 

Offshore Port Aransas sharks are very abundant. The new Federal law prohibits a drastically over fishing for sharks. I was at first opposed to the limits but now it seems to make it easier to consistently find nice big game fish to fight. I do not like shooting many sharks as it is dangerous. Me and my other captains here at Pure Pleasure Fishing believe a few well placed gaffs and tail ropes are much more safer and just as productive. I love sharking especially when involving mako sharks which give us a great game fish to target in the winter and spring. If interested in a trophy shark, give us a call. (361) 758-1542 or visit our website at: http://www.purepleasurefishing.com/ 

Captain Scott Wigal

 

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