Sharks on Fly!
March is a month known for its variety. Multiple species can be caught in a small area and the weather tends to be the biggest determining factor when it comes to which species to target. A fair amount of my charters this month are fly fishermen looking to enjoy some great fishing out on our local waters. An angler can find periods of perfect sightfishing conditions but then there are those other days where sightfishing can almost be impossible. These are the days where I typically suggest we target sharks on fly. Now if you have never done this, it is a real treat! You do not need to be a world-class angler to catch sharks on fly and you can target sharks just about every day regardless of the conditions and the area you are fishing.
Years ago my father took me on a trip with a guide based out of Flamingo for a full day of flats fishing. Over the course of the day we caught lots of redfish, snook, and seatrout. For the afternoon, our guide suggested we target sharks on fly.
We caught some jacks in a channel then proceeded to pole across a flat against the current with the jacks hung over the side. At first we saw nothing, but after a few minutes as we looked behind us a dorsal fin appeared - then another, and another. Within twenty minutes there were easily 20 sharks following our scent trail, mostly lemon and blacktip sharks of assorted sizes from 15lbs to 100lbs.
I used a 12wt fly rod with a big 4-inch yellow fly that not every shark took much interest in but the ones that did chased it down and devoured it.
Now we fought several sharks that afternoon, but the one that stood out was an 80lb blacktip that we had to chase. As we chased this shark and came within 20 feet, it would suddenly turn and ram the boat. It did so several times until we landed it, an experience I will never forget.
Now not every shark is as aggressive as that one was, and there are many different ways of catching sharks on fly but the basic formula most anglers follow is to chum them to the boat and present flies.
Yellow and red are well known colors for shark flies but different colors will work and everybody has there favorite. If you plan on fishing for sharks with fly tackle, be prepared to lose some and always bring a long handle de-hooker so you can remove the hook and release the shark without any jewelry. Typically we will use 12wt rods and above depending on the size of the sharks that come up to the boat. The hooks we use for the flies are typically steel, that way they will corrode just in case a hook is irretrievable or we get cut off.
For those of you who know me, know that to me, fishing is more than just a game, it is a way of life. So fish hard and fish often!
On March 3rd-5th 2015 the Islamorada Shark Fly Tournament will take place for the 6th year in a row. Last year there were 15 teams that caught and released 84 sharks on fly. The tournament takes place over two days of fishing and all proceeds benefit the We Fish For Kids Foundation, which helps supports both educational/sport programs in the Upper Keys. For more information about the tournament check out the tournament website at www.islamoradasharkfly.com or contact Capt. Mark Johnson (305) 393-0900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you there!
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