When the line on Shelby Kimball’s reel began to run on July 4th, the crowd of a dozen or so anglers on Johnnie Mercer’s Pier sprang to life with anticipation of the prize that could be on the end of the line and was on everyone’s lips: king mackerel.
It was the fish that the novice big game angler had been waiting to hook. Hoping to catch her first king mackerel.l, Kimball pulled in the big rod, at points balancing the end on her upper thigh for leverage, as she alternately reeled in and gave the big fish room to run. She pulled the fish up and down the rail of the pier as other anglers cleared spaced and negotiated their rods around the focused Kimball.
But the fish that the anglers soon spotted was a familiar, and all too disappointing, sight for many of the anglers.
It was a shark, one of the many that end up on the lines of anglers that are trying to catch mackerels, cobia and tarpon. But in light of the recent story about a caught shark biting an angler at the pier, anglers said they are hoping not to catch sharks, but they are an unfortunate part of big game fishing at the pier.
“They’re a nuisance,” said Bob Parker, of Wilmington. “It’s a real let down when you see one on the end of your line.”
That was the experience Kimball described after seeing that the fish was indeed a 3 to 4 foot Atlantic sharpnose shark.
“It fought hard, I was hoping it wasn’t a shark,” Kimball said. “I’ve gotten a big Spanish mackerel, but not a king yet.”
The anglers at the pier said that shark fishing at Johnnie Mercer’s Pier is forbidden, as it is with most piers.
“They have strict rules here against shark fishing,” Parker said.
Anglers at the pier on Thursday, June 29 reeled in a 7-foot tiger shark, that was tagged with a scientific tracking device after biting one of the men trying to bring it to shore. The shark was safely released back into the water.
The incident brought attention to shark fishing, but Parker said that the problem of sharks stealing bait has been fairly steady over the past few years.
But some places are reporting more shark activity, especially with regard to charter and commercial fishing. Matt Keller Ltd., a fishing supply company in Manteo, N.C., posted to its Facebook page this week a call for more shark harvesting.
The post featured pictures of half-eaten fish, describing the problem fishermen were having with sharks in the Outer Banks areas. “The number of sharks they have encountered this year have been staggering. The charter boats tell the same story,” the post said. “There needs to be provisions for harvesting sharks again.”
In the post, the company said that harvesting should be limited to regulated fishermen, “when there was a harvest of them, there was a market. They were not wasted.”