by: Capt. Frank Hommema
Sharks and catfish go together so often and this was a lesson I had to relearn. Many times, to catch sharks you have to go through a bunch of catfish. My mom and dad wanted to go shark fishing one day and we loaded the boat, to head down into the harbor. We only got onto the river and the motor started coughing, so we went back to the dock and changed the fuel filter, tried again, and although it ran good at idle, there was no way it would it run at more than that. So, hey we were on the water and the river usually has sharks this time of year, so what the heck, let’s fish! We put out the chum bag and started casting our rods out, two rods with sardines with A.F.W. Bleeding steel leaders on them and a rod with a mono leader and a shrimp.
The first rod bent before we had all of the lines out and as soon as the fish starts pulling, the rod starts boomp, boomp, boomp, the world-famous signal for cat fish on. That was the story for the next 40 minutes, catfish, after catfish. My sister had brought her grandson along for this trip, so, it was “here kitty, kitty”, which was kind of fun, although it is like riding a moped. Fun to do, but embarrassing to be seen enjoying it! All of a sudden, the catfish stop biting and this is the time to bring in the smaller rods because something big has made the cat fish move off. Almost 15 minutes we sat there waiting and I was just asking my dad if we should find another spot, starting to doubt my theory about big fish moving in, then WHAM! We knew that was no catfish. The line started peeling off the reel and the drag was singing. I looked out and saw that every time Jess had pulled back on his rod, a crab trap buoy would bob with every pull, so I brought in the anchor and we got the line to the crab trap unwrapped. Jess started to reel on another rod and another crab trap buoy started bouncing. Again, we got that trap untangled and the fight was back on! Using 30-pound braid and a 10 to 20-pound class rod, he had his hands full as the shark pulled us about a ½ mile, then finally came to the boat and it was a bull shark about 5’ long. We got the hook out, grabbed a couple pictures of it next to the boat, and back into the briny deep it went to fight another day. As we headed in, we realized that was a great way to end what started off as kind of a bad trip. If you can’t go to where you want to go, fish where you are!