Protecting the Resource
As noted earlier, if you’re just fishing for fun, consider using a heavier tippet (25-30 lb) to avoid tiring the fish out too much, and to have more control over it at boatside. If you’re trying for a record, you’ll need to use lighter tackle compliant with IGFA rules, but if not, it makes sense to rig to protect the resource.
Keeping sharks for the table (or not)
As we mentioned in Part 4, mako sharks caught by fly fishermen in Southern California are often immature fish. While they’re large compared to most fish we catch on fly in Southern California, they’re still “just kids” and haven’t had a chance to reproduce.
No one in the fly-fishing community advocates indiscriminately keeping sharks. The only controversy concerns whether it is reasonable for anglers to keep a world record shark, or an occasional fish for the table (makos are similar to swordfish in texture and taste).
Why Catch-and-Release sharks?
- Sharks are an essential part of the food chain, and as apex predators, there are relatively few of them around
- They have a long gestation cycle, and only give birth to a few young each year
- Therefore it is easy for recreational fishermen to impact our shark populations
Capt. Bowman and Capt. Trimble insist on Catch & Release only on their boats, even if the fish is a potential record. They feel that releasing all sharks is essential to protecting the resource.
Why keep a shark?
- If you are after a world record, you will most likely need to kill the shark in order to weigh it (see below)
- Some argue that because the California Department of Fish and Game does not prohibit harvesting mako or blue sharks, it’s a matter of personal choice whether or not you keep a shark
Whichever way you lean, just keep in mind that it is a fragile fishery, and should be treated with respect.
Can you Catch-and-Release a record shark?
One our readers, Steve Mras, has developed a technique that can be used to keep sharks alive when taking them in to be weighed for records. It involves running a raw water hose through the shark’s gills while restraining it on the deck. He’s used this method to successfully catch, weigh, and release several record makos.
Of course, this technique is potentially very dangerous. We recommend that you contact Steve to get his advice before attempting something similar.
So there you have it…DIY Shark Fly Fishing. We did not go into some of the more advanced techniques, such as sight-casting to cruising makos, but we think you’ve got enough information to get started and be successful. Shark fly-fishing can be a blast. Give it a try!