Last week I had a chance for a little family getaway to the Florida Keys. The trip included my grandson Robert and his visiting friend Jessie from Georgia. On these types of outings it is important that the kids catch fish - any fish. They just need to bend their poles to keep their interest high.
I had to give up some of my own fishing desires in favor of making it a memorable trip for the kids but it was well worth it. Sometimes adults press to hard on their style of fishing at the expense of a good day for the kids. Once in awhile, we need to just focus on the kids and let them have their day. As it turned out on this trip, sharks were the key to our success. If you can keep their rods bent over a lot of the time, they may just become your best fishing buddy as the years go by. However, as I said above, it is very important that they catch something.
To keep the activity level high we kept them supplied with plenty of shrimp and instructed them on how to use the 2500 Shimanos we brought for them to fish with. It was up to them to bait the hooks and take off what seemed like hundreds of snappers, grunts, and pinfish. In the meantime we set out two larger rods and baited up with frozen mullet.
When fishing for sharks it is a good practice to add a piece of wire leader to the terminal connection if you want to fight the fish all the way into the boat. Add a 5/0 to 7/0 circle hook, depending on the size of the sharks you expect to catch. Personally, I always use circle hooks when fishing with cut bait to reduce or eliminate gut hooked fish. Either pin on a whole mullet or if they are large you can cut them into chunks to entice the sharks.
Place the rod in a rod holder, leaving the bail open so the shark can run off with the bait. Once the line starts coming off the spool, count to 10 to let it eat and then start reeling. Remember, no hook set when using circle hooks. If the circle hook does its job the fish will be hooked in the corner of the mouth, making for an easy hook removal with a de-hooker.
It didn’t take long until the line started leaving the spool. The boys had already determined who would get the first fish on the “big pole” so Robert started the fight. It turned out to be a big nurse shark with plenty of pull. The boys actually traded off fighting the fish. When one got tired the other took over.
The boys also enjoyed catching the bonnet head sharks which were smaller but more plentiful. You never know what will bite so you have to be prepared for anything. There is something mysterious and scary about the sharks and most kids will have a blast catching and releasing them.
Be sure you take along your de-hooker and make every effort to remove the hook without harming the fish. If a fish happens to get gut hooked, scientists tell us that it is probably better to cut the line as close to the hook as possible, instead of trying to remove it. The fish will have a better chance of surviving.