Sharkapalooza 2010 Report – August 18-22 – San Luis Pass – SLP – Surfside

This journey began several months ago with an e-mailing by my friend Jason aka Sharkinator asking if anybody wanted to go Shark Fishing this year. I responded halfheartedly and accepted. Halfheartedly due to my bad experience last year trying to go Shark Fish for the first time, very ill prepared. Well about this time I became a member of the Texas Shark Fishing message board. Soon after I attended a TSF meet-up at Redfishrunner’s (Mike’s) place. I felt so encouraged and accepted as a brother in this whatever it is. I just know that there is a comradeship that is rarely found between us Shark Fishermen.

Well that began the addiction. I started to wheel and deal, sell stuff I did not need anymore, save a little from each paycheck and search craigslist, garage sales and thrift stores for anything that could be used on a Shark Fishing Adventure. I spent hours at home, work and anywhere I found a spare minute, scouring the message boards for information. I had several long conversations with Sharkinator (Jason) and we e-mailed others newbies trying to build a crew. Sharkinator (Jason) had been preparing leaders and weights and I felt quite lacking, I had not done this and had a very difficult time finding the “stuff” needed to make these leaders. After much persistence and patience I ended up buying a roll of steel leader with Christian, ordered 20/0 hooks from catfish supply and applied several techniques to come up with a way to make lots of leaders. Christian taught me how to re-weave the steel cable into a loop, Redfishrunner showed us how to use copper tubing as crimps, I began seriously making 10′-20′ steel leaders, lots of them. I bought a Yak. I then obtained a box of scrap lead from a tire store, melted it and make several copper tube weights, some with lead and others with cement. I was experimenting. Something had taken a drastic turn in my life, I found myself almost obsessed with having all that I needed. I read over the Shark Fishing manual again and made some rigging needles. I memorized several knots and species of fish, how to rig them etc. I had leads on 10+ shark fishing rods and reels. Some how, after all this culminated I was ready to go. We left on August 18.

I prepared everything to go the night before. I got up at 3:30AM and loaded the remaining few items, hooked up the pop up camper and took off. I was determined to make it to Conroe by 8:30AM to meet th3bigboss and buy a 9/0 rig. I made it. I stopped and got all my reels restrung with new line and was at the campsite at about 4:00. Sharkinator had arrived before me. We decided to go try to obtain some bait, and get some lines in the water. We ended up using a southern ray Sharkinator had bought from a bait store in Galveston. We hit San Luis beach near Freeport and Yaked out 3 chunks of stingray. I yaked out the first, it was my first time ever on a yak, I only got out about 250 yards. Sharkinator yaked out the other 2. We got our drag set low and clickers turned on. It was about 7:00PM…

We were finally able to take a breath, smell the ocean air and relax for a bit. I know there are a lot of details leading up to this but it’s important to know we did not just show up and make all this happen, it took months of preparation and a lot of hard work. We decided to have a little snack and try to contact the others who were going to meet us, to let them know where we were. Time seemed to pass quickly, before I knew it it was about 10:00PM. I looked at Jason (Sharkinator) and said something like, man I’d sure like to hear that reel scream, I’ve never heard anything like that before. About 15 minutes later….

I hear the screaming of my new 9/0, pulling hard, lots of line being stripped from the reel. Man I had never felt, or heard anything like that before. I grabbed the Rod, (taking the advice of th3bigboss, I slowly tightened up the drag while moving backwards quickly to set the hook) I felt the pull of disapproval on the other end of the line indicating we meant business. Jason grabbed my fighting belt and we were struggling to get it on (I had never used it before) Just then his reel starts screaming. I could tell Jason was torn, help Clint (Neo) or grab that screaming reel. I told him to go grab the reel I’d take care of the belt. While holding pressure on the line I carefully strapped myself in to the belt and clipped the reel clips on my reel. I was set and began the fight. I remembered reading so many reports here about pulling in a big fish like that. I tried to bring all that to mind and apply it to what I was doing. I’ll tell ya there is nothing like the real thing! This was the real thing alright! I look over at Sharkinator (Jason) and his rod is bent over, so is mine. We are both laughing with delight. Some how we got a picture during all this.


Sharkinator, pulling in a monster.

I could feel the thrashing getting stronger and stronger the closer I got the line to the shore. I was walking back, pulling reeling as I walked forward. I let the fish run if it needed to then reeled it the line when it started to give a little. Boy was this fun. I ended up pulling my Shark into the shore first, he beached himself about 100 feet away, down current. I walked over, grabbed the leader and pulled this beautiful animal up to the shore. Jason yelled at me that he had a tail rope in a box so I ran over and got it, looped it around the tail and managed to pull the shark over to the light, grabbed my camera and popped off a shot, adrenaline pumping like never before.


My (Neo's) First Shark

Just about this time Sharkinator (Jason) was starting to pull his in over the last sandbar. We also noticed the third reel was now screaming, neither of us could do anything about it. I grabbed the tail rope off mine and went out into the surf, a little freaked out at the thought of grabbing a PO’d shark from the water with my bare hands. I grabbed on, wrapped the rope and brought it onshore. There was just us two so we could not get a shot of both of us with the sharks but here’s what we did get.


Measuring Neo's Shark


The Sharkinator


Sharkinator Money Shot


Neo's Hard Work Pays dividends


Neo's Money Shot

Sharkinator asked me if we did not catch anything else the rest of the trip if I’d be ok with it. I think I’d be ok if I never caught anything ever again…

Now we are by no means shark experts but we think we caught 2 Bull Sharks at the same time. Mine had been on shore quite a while. It was bleeding pretty badly from where the hook grabbed him. Time seemed to have no meaning when there were three reels screaming at the same time and 2 sharks being pulled in within 10 minutes of each other. We got the hooks out of both beautiful sharks, pondered at them for a brief second, popped off a few photos and took them into the surf to try to revive them. Sharkinators sprung to life and swam away, mine did not fare so well. I decided that since it was my first shark I’d keep it. I read several articles on how to clean a shark so I applied all of that knowledge bled it and cut it up, put it in ziplock bags and got it on ice. Sharkinator worked on jawing it. I took the remains and buried them in the dunes. It was much harder than expected to cut that shark up. FYI: I ate some last night for dinner and it was very delicious. By now it was about 2:30AM. We packed up, showered at the state park and went back to camp. Neither of of slept more than about 4 hours the previous night, we were running on endorphins. It was EPIC!!!

We were so encouraged by this, so many memories, but we were exhausted. We crashed hard. The rest of our crew showed up as well. Ralph and Jason’s Dad. The next day we hit San Luis Pass and fished all day with nary a bite. But that evening as the sun set we witnessed one of the most beautiful pictures God has ever painted this side of heaven. The sunset was surreal and opposite that was a double rainbow, it was constantly changing, these pictures do not do it justice.


Awe Inspiring Sunset at San Luis Pass


The opposite view


Changing Colors

The next day we moved camp to San Luis Beach, near Surfside. We stayed there the remainder of the time. We yaked out bait periodically. The waves were about 2-3 feet at the third sandbar the first day at SLB, I yaked out a bait and got dumped really bad, my leg was wrapped in the leader and I could feel the hooks beginning to dig in, I quickly detangled my leg and began to try to detangle the twisted cable from my yak. I finally got it but was pretty freaked out. I could not remount the yak so I grabbed it and swam back in. I was quite shaken up after this…


Me (Neo) Just before the wipeout.

Sharkinator yaked out the rest of the bait that night. I was awakened by Jason in the middle of the night, my reel was screaming. I ran out there, in a daze from the Excedrin PM I took to help me sleep, I pulled too hard I guess but after about 20 minutes the line broke. I was using 100# Power Pro. I went right back to bed…

We did not get much more action during the next couple days. Jason’s Cousin James showed up.


Fishing Hard

Ralph and Jason’s Dad took off for home.I was still shaken up over the yak spill and did not want to even try again. We fished hard all day, I went off to the bay to try and catch bait. I caught several Gafstop Tail Catfish, I learned the hard way how not to hold them. I got spiked in the middle finger, my whole hand started burning and it’s just now getting better. Sharkinator rigged up a small rod with a small hook and was catching whiting in the first gut so we all joined him and caught several. Sharkinator decided that he would take his yak out and fish from it. He did but in the process started to feel a little sick He pushed through and when he paddled back in he showed James his bounty:


Sharkinator's loaded up Fishing Yak


Sharkinator (Jason) and his giant Redfish!

James was inspired so he took the yak out and tried his luck, he’d never been on a yak before and came back in spent. About this time I showed up. It was our last night there and we had all that fresh whiting. I rigged up my 9/0 with a double hooked whiting, good hook exposure by using tie wraps. I hopped in the yak and started paddling. My heart was beating hard in my chest but I pushed through the fear. By the time I got past the third breaker it was fully dark, the waterscape was lit up by the moonlight. It was almost like daytime. I paddled and paddled till I could no more. Dropped the bait and just sat there for a few moments. It was a great moment for me, I had done it. Overcame the fear. It was really peaceful out there. Quiet, bobbing up and down… I stayed a while then started to slowly paddle back in. I got dumped about the second sandbar, but was able to get back on. I’ll tell ya it was quite a rush paddling out at night after overcoming that fear. I was pumped. I set my rod in it’s holder and set the drag very low and turned on my clicker. I made the back of my truck into a bed and after eating crashed out. I was awakened by a screaming reel again.


Me (Neo) fighting the mystery

I did not want the line to break again so I left the drag low and let the fish run when it wanted. I could not gain any ground unless I walked backwards then reeled while walking forward. I did this for about 2 hours. Long story short…. I got whatever it was about 20′ from the shore and it came loose. All I saw was the water stirring, it looked like about 12′ long. I did not see any teeth marks on the whiting but all of it’s scales were gone. It could have also been a big ray. I will never know.

I got up the next morning and packed up and headed to the casa. Now I need to get my reels serviced, get a hot pot and some lead ingot to make more weights. Make more leaders and plan the next trip.

Overall it was a successful trip, I know catching sharks constantly would have made it even better but to be a part of catching 2 at the same time was quite the experience. This was only my second time shark fishing. The first time we could not even yak bait out, so really for all intents and purposes it was my first. Not bad if I do say so myself.

If you are reading this and feel overwhelmed by this whole shark fishing thing remember this… What one man can do another man can do. Stick with it, start to make some leaders, weights, get your gear in tip top shape, plan a trip. Get with some of the other TSF members. It’s not to hard to accomplish, but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

Clint aka Neo

(This was originally posted on the Texas Shark Fishing Forum, References to individuals is mostly done via their Nickname on that message board.I am sure this does not take away from the Gist of the story.
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