By DAN BROOKS
© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 3, 2001
Grass beds and shallow sandbars surrounded by water in lower Tampa Bay hold an abundance of juvenile blacktip, bonnethead, bull and nurse sharks. A 3-foot blacktip on light spinning tackle can offer a challenge to any angler.
A smooth drag is essential. Sharks are strong with quick bursts of speed. After finding an area away from swimmers and busy beaches, hang a frozen chum block off the transom and anchor up. Sharks are not boat shy or concerned with noise; if there is a scent in the water they have a one-track mind.
A 1.0 to 2.0 bronze live bait hook with 30-pound fluorocarbon leader or a short piece of No. 4 wire leader work well if cutoffs become a problem. The faster you react to the bite, the less likely you are to get cut off. Small live baits like pinfish, greenbacks or shrimp under a float will work. The floats keep your baits suspended in the strike zone and out of the grass. Oily cut baits like frozen finger mullet or Spanish sardines are a sure thing.
Trying to retrieve an engulfed hook often kills the fish. The bronze hook dissolves if swallowed; clip the leader as close to the hook as possible and release the fish. Sharks are flexible enough to bite their own tails and have a never-ending supply of teeth, so be very careful when handling them.
- Capt. Dan Brooks charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 867-7856 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.