Joy and I fished the salt yesterday (Saturday, April 28 2012) in search of sharks and stingrays. We left the house at 4 a.m. and stopped at a tidal creek along the way to catch pinfish for bait, but the fishing was slow despite lots of baitfish splashing around. It was dead low tide.
This bird was also looking for some fish:
So we moved on to the beach to fish the incoming tide, which is generally best for sharks and rays from the beach. The trail to the beach is a long walk with all our gear, but very scenic:
Luckily we were able to catch southern kingfish in the surf without too much effort. I also caught a weakfish and this lifelister, the Star Drum (Stellifer lanceolatus; lifelister #157):
One of the southern kingfish:
It didn't take long to get runs on the big rods. Within 15 minutes of getting the 2 shark/ray rods each got a nice run but we failed to hook into anything. Then it was pretty quiet until about 2 hours before high tide (11:30 am), when things got exciting.
Waiting for a bite:
Suddenly one of the rods was doubled over, line peeling off the loosely set drag. Joy picked up the rod and let the fish run for a few seconds, then tightened the drag and reared back. The fish peeled off more line and then jumped. Joy saw that it was a nice sized shark, probably a blacktip. Unfortunately the jump broke the line (65 pound test power pro).
After retying, rebaiting, and recasting that rod, the other big rod had a take. I had a go this time, letting the fish run before tightening up and pulling back.
The fish put up a very good battle, swimming back and forth and pulling out a lot of line at times. As I was fighting I was sure it must be a shark, because it was swimming and changing direction so quickly and never hunkering to the bottom like a ray. But when I got the fish into the breakers the line seemed to have become snagged. Nothing would budge when I pulled hard, so I changed tactics and let the line go slack. The fish then swam off again and I knew it was probably a big ray. Not too long after we saw it's tail flip up in the surf, confirming it was indeed a stingray. With the surge of an incoming wave I slid it up onto the sand. It was my second southern stingray and one of the most memorable battles I've fought with a fish.
After the ray, the tide peaked, and then went back down without any takes. Even the kingfish stopped biting but we sat it out and enjoyed the nice weather for a few hours.
Finally we decided to try something else, so we left the beach and headed back to try some fishing some tidal creeks and the intracoastal waterway. It was scenic and we saw lots of wildlife, but no other fish were caught.
The only things biting here were crabs.
No sharks landed, but we'll be back out again soon!