Saturday, February 17 , 2018, 6:17 pm | Fair 58º

 
 
 
 

Captain’s Log: Sharks of Winter Making Their Rounds Off Our Coast

We’ve got some sharks along our coast, and anglers are out doing battle with what can become a week’s worth of groceries for a large family.

Just from that statement you can know that I’m not referring to white sharks because they are protected and we don’t fish for them. This being still within the prime season for white sharks, there are certainly some “landlords” along our coast, but I’m referring to ones we can catch and eat.

Take a walk out to the end of Goleta Pier at almost any time, day or night, and you will find a small contingent of people who look like they have been there for a while and sometimes individuals are known to stay for a couple of days nonstop, which is fine because it is a 24-hour pier. We don’t have many safe and sane 24-hour recreational opportunities, but pier fishing is one of them.

These specialized anglers have gear that almost looks out of place and that would look appropriate on a tuna boat out of San Diego going after big bluefin or yellowfin tuna. I’m talking about 60-plus pound rods such as Vague Rods, Cousins, Calstar and Seekers, matched with super reels like Penn, Avet and Accurate, spooled with 80 to 120-pound braided line. With these setups, an angler can tame a 300-pound shark and maybe a bigger one.

Just in the past couple of weeks, we have had catches of soupfin and sevengill sharks over 7 feet long and there have been some bigger ones busted off when they wrapped a pier piling and the sharp mussel shells cut the line. A shark like that is enough to stock the freezer and give a family a big break on the grocery bill. Plus, the photos give a person bragging rights for life and often make it up on the hallway wall at home. America has a culture of hunting and fishing for our meals, and this local action is that culture in action.

Anglers fishing from the pier inshore just behind the waves also have been catching sharks — leopard sharks. These beautiful and mesmerizing creatures are fun to watch, fun to catch and make a great meal. We’re a bit late in the season for leopards, but some will be caught right through winter.

We’re enjoying the sharks of winter. The species we are fishing for are not ones that swimmers or divers have much to worry about, so please don’t let this message keep you from your ocean swim — if you are one who likes to share the ocean with sharks.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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