TIGER ON THE BEACH
As of late, with the introduction of Discovery Channels ‘Shark Week’ and old reruns of ‘Jaws’, a larger part of the population has adopted big-game fishing as a weekend activity, focusing mainly on sharks. Sharks have become a favorite target, especially here in southwest Florida. Their fearsome and thrashing style of culinary activities incites anglers to prove themselves against this ancient man-eater of the deep. Though many a shark hunter angling on the boards of the Venice Florida City Pier have not a clue, when one looks at their equipment that they are using. The number one question on the pier is “did you catch that here?” as they continue to bait up with a large style hook, oversized bait on a piece of equipment manufactured for freshwater to light saltwater usage. I blame the booming shark sport industry in their televised tournaments and contests, of bringing to the dock many a blues, mako, tiger and bull sharks ready to be “steak cut” or filleted for a weekend barbeque, yet, most are discarded into the trash or dumped over the side after the weigh in or picture, which is the worst of travesties! Of all the sharks found in the Gulf of Mexico, the Mako and Blacktip sharks are of the best to eat and the rest should be CPR’ed (Catch, Photographed and Released).
There are of fourteen varieties of sharks caught from the boards of the Venice City Pier at Sharky’s but the most common are our Blacktips, Hammerheads, Lemon, Reef, Nurse and the verbose Bull Sharks. Big Bulls have always been the talk of the pier throughout the year with Hammerheads arriving on the tails of the migrating schools of Kings and Tarpon. A big hammer is a sight to see and always becomes the thrill to seek until this last weekend, when a new arrival showed up under the boards, just off the beach and one usually only seen in movies or on Shark Week; a Tiger shark! In my 15 years of angling the pier, a
Tiger shark has not been caught! Jesus’ while overnight angling with large sharking equipment**, floated out a wingtip of ray around four-hundred yards off the “T” to hook it up with this eight to nine foot man-eater. The Tiger was given this eloquent title during the final days of WWII when the USS Indianapolis CA-35 was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea and of 1,196 men on board, only 316 men survived with the perils of the sea and the verboseness of the Tiger. Most of those fat thin and wiggly (jagged below the point) pointed black sharks’ teeth you find at waters edge on the beach of Venice were that of tiger sharks a few million years ago. I wonder what has changed to bring them back.
** Heavy conventional, stiff rods. Conventional reels and big hooks. Bring a variety of hooks 7/0 to 14/0 Circles depending on the size of the sharks.