Fly while fishing for black-tailed sharks outside of North Carolina

“We’re looking for an EF5 Sharknado,” said Captain Gifford Scott, throwing a 5-gallon bucket of bloody relatives water over the jungle. “These units and doubles do not shorten it.” He took another bucket of sea water and threw a fake albacore that bleeds on the slope. Ten feet behind the boat, a pair of Spanish mackerel flew near the surface, mounted without hooks and fixed in a line by a rotating rod – their wings were chopped to release an extra load of flavor into the water. When the sharks arrived, Scott teased them with his close friend, pushing the fish out of reach as I threw a fly into the vortex.

merchant fishing vessels attract sharks
Shrimp can be magnets for birds, dolphins and sharks. T. Edward Nickens

When sharks come… This is something I had not wanted before. But last fall, my friend Nick Roberts, and I spent half the day wishing the sharks left Cape Lookout, North Carolina. Flocks of black yeast knocked down our fake albacore feast, grabbing three crocheted fish in the boat, smashing fly lines and scattering our target fish. At first, it was exciting to see so many predators, but we soon got tired of losing the fighting albis. In the months since then, we had plotted our revenge and now here we are: On the shores of South Carolina, where I had in my hand a rod of 14-scale flies, loaded with a simple, large blood-red fleece fly. , with tight greasy and bloody bait that flag behind the boat. We turned our backs on the sun so we could see the sharks coming.

“It’s ridiculous,” Roberts said, scanning the reels 50 feet behind the boat. “The thing you do not want is suddenly the only thing you are hoping for.” We both stared at the ocean. “Come on, tax man,” Roberts said. “We are ready for you this time.”

You will need a larger flight rod

The tax man… The man in the gray suit… These are euphemisms born of a shark’s tendency to bite more than it deserves — and may appear when it is less welcome. And almost at the mark, a shark appeared, sailing on a roller, the color of a cigar, with a sharp snout and a stopping attitude. He removed the fly twice, moving away when it was only inches from the hook. We knew the training. Sharks bite much better when there is more than one. Competition worries them. And this was a finely toothed shark, which tends not to participate in the fishing game at all.

the flying shark fights a shark
Shark! T. Edward Nickens

But the competition was not hard to find. Within a few miles, more than a dozen shrimp fishermen were pulling nets and grabbing their catch. Behind them, bottlenose dolphins poured into the slide. Seagulls and terns with wheels and pigeon. Sharks can not give up the light meal of dead and disoriented fish resulting from shark hunting, but it is a matter of finding out which boat has attracted the crowd.

After a second fisherman, Scott let go of the bullying of friends. Two minutes later, the sharks appeared — one behind the boat, then the other in the harbor, with its feather piercing the surface — a more threatening behavior. My first cast was right in front of the target – which was not what I wanted. Sharks have eyes on the sides of the head, so they do not see very well forward. I picked up the fly and threw it a second time, maybe 12 feet behind the boat, in front of the taxpayer and set off to one side. The black tip turned and the arrow inside. I held my breath. Unlike most fish, a shark’s mouth can be half a foot away from the tip of its nose. I saw the red fly disappear, then, out of nowhere, the second shark snatched the fly almost from the mouth of the first.

In an instant, the water exploded. The rigid fly rod with the broom handle turned al dente as the shark left with stripes, loose flies of the fly line into sharp loops until the line straightened and the coil faded. The black top did not hit the brakes until it removed the 150-meter flight and support line, then changed ends and loaded the boat.

I approached with the crab in the bow, rolling furiously, then let go of the wrapper glove and stripped with large grips from the four-legged fly line at the same time. The shark torpedoed under the boat and I barely let go of the bow, the flight rod bent twice as I carried the fight to the other side.

black-tailed shark at the end of a war
The black yeast comes to the surface near the end of a fierce battle. T. Edward Nickens

And that’s what I wanted: A big fish, a strong fish, a fish to fight. If anything, fly fishing for sharks is a solid practice for fishing for brutal animals like tarpon or golden dorado. (Like I sometimes fish for golden dorado….) Sharks are ready and plentiful in my waters, and will jump and run and dig to the end. Like this one, after a couple of fiery runs. Fighting a shark can make a good stand for a tarpon in line, but at some point, it becomes good practice to try to pull a sofa out of the water with a fly rod.

“Earth and pounds,” Scott laughed as the war turned into a win-win operation. “This is the game now. Be careful what you ask for. ” But when the fish came to the surface, rolled to its side and cried uncle in the boat, I’m glad I got what I came for. A quick photo and a bonus – this shark was tagged, so we mark the tag number to return to the state fisheries department.

Then Nick got up. The bucket of friends was ready. The sharks were feeding. Revenge was sweet, if costly. My new 14-pound shark rod should appear every day now.

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