Shark Fishing Is Great Summer Fun

By: Terry Tomalin


Sharks, like tarpon, could be the next great catch-and-release fishery in Florida. Every angler knows that if you catch a fish and kill it, you've got dinner. But if you let it go, it can be caught again and again.

Sharks are also a hot topic. Many believe that the struggle to protect the ocean's top predator will be the next great fisheries conservation battle. Some estimates put the number of sharks killed each year worldwide by commercial fishermen at close to 90 million. But those same sharks, left in a catch-and-release recreational fishery, could be a boost to coastal economies.
Apollo Beach's Joel Brandenburg takes it one step further. Every shark he catches is tagged before it is released. The information from the tags goes to Sarasota's Mote Marine Laboratory's Center for Shark Research which has an ongoing study on shark movement and migratory patterns.

One of the most popular sharks Florida anglers catch during the summer months is the blacktip. One of the most common species found in local waters, these sharks range up and down the Atlantic Coast and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. These sharks are relatively slow-growing – it takes four to five years to reach maturity – and they live for about 10 years, reaching a maximum length of about six feet. Of all the sharks, blacktips are considered among the best game fish, because when hooked, they make jaw-dropping leaps.

Mote Marine Laboratory has been tagging and releasing sharks with angler assistance for more than 20 years. In 2005, a shark was recaptured 3,158 days after it had been originally tagged. The baby blacktip was caught and tagged by an angler in Charlotte Harbor's Pine Island Sound in 1996, and then nearly nine years later, it was caught again about 20 miles away in Boca Grande Pass. But blacktips have also been known to swim great distances. In 2005, another blacktip was caught in St. Joseph Bay in northwest Florida. The shark had been originally tagged three years earlier near the Bahia Honda Bridge in the Florida Keys, nearly 400 miles to the south.

If you do catch a tagged shark, send the tag and other information to the Center for Shark Research, Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, 34236. Please include name, address and phone number, as well as the date and location of capture, including total length and estimated weight of the shark. Anglers can also call toll-free 1-800-691-6683.

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