Monday, January 16 , 2017, 7:23 am | Fair 42º


Captain’s Log: Fishing for Fun? Try Trolling for Blue Sharks

They're in abundance in local waters this time of year.

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Trolling for blue sharks, most of which weigh 60 to 180 pounds, can build muscle and endurance. (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

It may not play well according to what we think we know about blue shark distribution throughout the year, but we sure do spot a lot of blue shark in November and December. They frequently come nosing around the boat when we are catching rockfish such as red snapper and copper rockfish. Those sharks like to chase the fish and try to bite them off our hooks.

Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)
I’ve had people go in the water to photograph them. Even when in the water with them, a swimmer or diver has relatively little to worry about. Blue sharks aren’t known to be particularly aggressive with a healthy strong person. They are not a big-tooth shark, so their dentures aren’t as fearful as some of their relatives.

We are blessed to have a good population of these phantoms of the sea in our local waters. We spot them year-round, though their population peaks in the summer and fall when they are often seen at top water. I’ve seen big ones that were close to 300 pounds. Most are from 60 to 180 pounds. They are mature enough to reproduce at ages 4 or 5, and they make dozens of babies per year when things are going right for them.

It is fun to catch and release them.  The meat isn’t one of the better quality sharks, such as thresher and mako, so most folks release blues. They are tough critters and have a very high survival rate after being released.

Sight fishing is fairly easy, once a shark has been spotted. Chum will keep the big predator close while a rig is readied and baited up. Then lower the bait a few feet down and hang on.

Another popular method is to use a chum bucket to keep a steady chumline going. The best chum material contains plenty of blood and meat, to make for a juicy and alluring chumline. Drift with the chum bucket, releasing a steady stream of shark-goodies. Be careful, though, because a chum slick also may attract big-toothed sharks such as mako or whites.

The hook should be at least 6/0 in size and the leader should be steel. Bait up a heavy rig with lots of meat such as mackerel or multiple anchovies. Drop the baits about 20 yards down-drift, put the reel in gear and the drag set loose. When a shark picks up the offering, tighten the drag and set that hook hard. Then hang on.

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.

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