Predators of the Dark

Written By: Caitlyn Gatrell

It’s no secret that sharks have practically taken over the Ten Thousand Islands. Each venture out there guarantees encounters with these beasts, at least one but possibly more. But sometimes, you’re just in the mood to fight a shark. For shark fans like myself, it’s always cool to see them up close, even if they like to take our gamefish from us. They’re tough and put up a hard fight, but once you successfully bring one in, your exhaustion is met with reward.

Recently we’ve dived into island-camping, and as a result, night fishing has been popular among our activities. My first time was quite the adventure. Despite having to deal with mosquitos, the trip was an awesome experience. The freedom of being unplugged from social media paired with making good memories outdoors is what it’s all about. Night fishing was the highlight of the trip, where cut mullet and ladyfish served as irresistible treats for the hungry tax men. Each night we drove the boats a little ways from shore so we could drop our bait into deeper water. Then once back on shore, we placed our rods in the holders and moved to the campfire, keeping an ear out for any signs of screaming drags.

As we waited for any rod to go off, we gathered by the campfire, enjoying music, grilling burgers, and sharing conversations and laughs. Soon enough, the distinctive sound of a rod going off would interrupt us. We all would sprint towards the rod holders, pulling out flashlights directed at the water. Even if it wasn’t your rod going off, everyone still shared the excitement.

Throughout our two-night stay, we managed to successfully hook a few sharks. Some gave us a quick and clean cut, while others met us face to face. Too bad we didn’t have wire leader with us! Unfortunately, our fluorocarbon leader gave them the perfect opportunity to cut the line if it was in the right spot.

Throughout our trip, as each shark neared the shore, we erupted with excitement. We met a couple feisty ones that weren’t too happy about getting pulled away from more dinner. We had to be careful around those, as we didn’t want to get bit. After capturing the moments with photos, removing hooks, and ensuring a safe release, we watched them swim back to their habitat – a surreal experience to witness. It’s a small reminder of how much marine life is out there, and how many sharks may be hidden under the surface near us. While a little fear strikes me when I see them, I have an undeniable respect for these intense and inspiring creatures.