Friday, November 16 , 2018, 12:24 pm | Fair 67º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Captain’s Log: Small Sharks, Big Fun

Wide-eyed kids head to sea on their earliest fishing adventures, sometimes just old enough to turn the handle on the reel, as long as a grown-up is holding the rod and assisting as required. What makes these kids happy?

Sharks! No question about it. They can catch all the other fish and have fun doing it, but nothing compares to the psychological excitement of catching a shark. 

I recall one recent charter trip aboard my boat, WaveWalker when the kids latched on sharks. We were fishing just off the side of a low reef extending offshore, and we began hooking pinback sharks. Most weighed about 10 pounds, with a few 15 pounders mixed in.

These were sharks the kids could battle, and they had a blast catching and releasing about a dozen sharks over a couple of hours before they finally lost interest and went happily back to playing with the anchovies and sardines in the bait tank (a favorite pass time for most kids).

When relatives or friends with kids from inland states or counties come to visit some of my regular charter clients, we often take them out and specifically look for small sharks to catch.

A kid from Kansas, for example, becomes the hero of his or her school when he or she returns home talking about shark fishing on the west coast. They can tell stories about catching several sharks and feel great about it.

The funny part is … the parents get just as excited as the kids. After all, the parents are just bigger kids themselves!

These shark species include smooth-hound, pinback, shovelnose guitarfish, leopard and sand shark. These sharks can be found and caught in shallow water and without having to travel hours to get to the best spots.

When targeting sharks for kids, a good plan is to head out of harbor and fish near-shore kelp beds and reef zones. These species spend much of their time in shallow water, less than 80 feet deep, and tend to forage along the edge of structure such as kelp beds and reefs. 

Drift or anchor just outside of a kelp bed and fish the bottom. If bites don’t come within about twenty minutes, move on to the next spot. Shallow reef areas are likely places to find sharks, and they tend to forage over sand spots right adjacent to a reef.

Halibut also like the same terrain, so don’t be surprised when one of these prize flatfish comes up to go home to dinner with you.

Small sharks are great fun to catch. They tend to hang out in schools, which means that when one is hooked, you can usually count on fast-paced action.

Most of these sharks have white tender flaky meat, which is pretty decent table fare.

It is best to clean the shark at sea, then take it home and soak it in hot tap water for about ten minutes. After a soaking in hot water, the skin will come off easily, and ammonia has leached out of the flesh.

My personal preference is to marinate small shark meat in citrus juice, such as tangelo, and then barbecue it.

— 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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