Hook, line and sinker

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Our area has been inundated with plenty of rain, wind and thunderstorms through July and August, which have inhibited anglers just about every day of the week. Ocean conditions have not been pleasant, then add to that the severe lightning-infused thunderstorms, and it just doesn’t make the prospect of heading offshore much fun. Inshore, muddy waters and extremely warm water temperatures, still reading in the mid 80s, have not helped matters much, either.

The good news, however, is the front that’s been bringing us all this wonderful weather is finally on the move, meaning clearing skies. Just as important, the extended forecast is calling for subsiding winds as well. Now if we can just get this dirty water flushed out of here, anglers will soon be back in business.

Shark fishing has been on the upswing in recent years, and during Shark Week®, the waters around Wrightsville Beach have more than their fair share for your fishing pleasure, from the smaller sand sharks and blacktips to the larger bull sharks and hammerheads, and many other species in between. Tiger sharks are also a possibility, but are normally found in deeper water than right along the beach.

Shark fishing along the beach strand or off the local piers is illegal within the town limits, but fishing from boats or even from the surf on Masonboro Island is not, and anglers have managed to catch some very large trophies from both. Some areas for locating good numbers of sharks are around the mouths of the inlets, particularly during a falling tide when the inshore waters are being flushed out, which in turn increases baitfish populations in or near the inlets. Another good location to target is around the shrimp boats while the catch is being culled. The numerous by-catch being thrown overboard normally attracts many predators.

Those seeking fishing charters just want to catch a big fish that pulls hard. Hooking sharks is one of the easier tasks for local guides. Getting them to the boat and releasing them without harm is another matter, and takes skill, knowledge and tackle large enough to handle the task. Having appropriate tackle in good working order is a must if one wants to wrangle. When fishing for catch and release, it’s important to have a rod and reel stout enough to make the fight a short one, so the shark doesn’t exert too much energy and may recuperate upon release. Heavy line and a quick fight will help ensure the shark is released with minimal harm.

Most of the shark fishing is catch and release, although some anglers do target sharks for their table fare as well. If your intent is to catch a shark and bring it back for dinner, you are well within your rights as long as you adhere to the regulations in place. A lot of sharks are off limits to possession and many others have specific size limits. Make sure to visit the NCDMF website to obtain a current regulation chart and make sure you can identify what you catch.

Above all, make sure you actually know what the shark tastes like before you take it in for the dinner table. You might just be better off releasing that shark and having the tale to tell over dinner at a local seafood restaurant.

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