By BRENT GASKILL
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2001
Sharks along the beach that were a nuisance to tournament kingfish anglers have provided great sport for recent charters. Stiff easterly winds have made the nearshore gulf beaches about the only calm place to fish. Common sand sharks, lemon sharks, blacktips and true hammerheads have kept it interesting and challenged the light tackle.
Ten-pound test spinning gear has been used to battle sharks 2- to 5-feet long. Drag sizzling runs are the norm and double hook-ups frequent. Three rods are typically fished in rod-holders. Two are free-lined with no weight and the third is corked to keep the bait near the surface. The rod-holders seem to hook more fish, as they don't jerk the bait out of the fish's mouth. When line begins to peel off the reel, pick it up.
A frozen chum block hung over the side provides a steady scent trail for sharks. Add cutup chunks of fresh dead bait to the mix to keep them around. Don't overchum. The idea is to pique their interest, not to feed them.
Keep baits swimming in the chum slick. The tide direction combined with the wind direction can make this a constant chore. Monitoring the bait placement has resulted in more hook-ups.
Spanish mackerel, cobia or a stray kingfish may crash the party. They will respond to the chum and gladly will eat a live bait offering.
- Capt. Brent Gaskill charters the Summer Vacation out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 343-1765 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.