1-5-17 [Thick 85'' Sandbar Shark]
I had three friends from Wisconsin make the drive from Wisconsin down to sunny (not so much lately) Pensacola on Wednesday evening. They arrived around 11AM Thursday morning & told me that they wanted to go that evening. Seeing as I had a fresh southern ray from sheepie fishing Thursday morning & a bunch of sheepshead & redfish carcasses from the past couple trips, I told them we should have a decent chance at hooking into a shark. Conditions looked fairly optimal when we checked during the late afternoon, so we decided that, after dinner at the Tin Cow & a few brews at O'Reilly's, we'd hit the beach.
Also worth noting is that my girlfriend, Jessica, who just graduated with a degree in marine biology, isn't exactly a fan of me sharking. After explaining to her that we release all sharks that we catch, her & I came to the agreement that if I applied for NOAA's tagging program, she would join me on the next trip & help with tagging!
Got to the beach around 11:45PM & found that the surf looked a whole lot different than it did in the surf cams earlier in the afternoon. Was NOT excited about yakking in those conditions, but decided to throw the life jacket on & tough it out anyways. Nathan & I ran five baits, three of which were no more than 150 yards off the beach. About an hour & a half after the baits were out, I was hooked up on the southern ray that I had ran out on my Okuma Solterra 50W.
Twenty-ish minutes later, we saw her huge dorsal about forty feet from the beach. Everybody helped with safely landing the fish, so we made quick work of leadering her, pulling her up to the edge of the surf, & dehooking her (16/0 right in the corner of the mouth). After my beautiful girlfriend got the fish tagged, we measured her (85'' on the dot), got some awesome photos, & then sent her on her way.
My friends from Wisconsin, Mike, Troy, & Troy's girlfriend, Lauren, all got to help with beaching, tagging, & releasing the shark, & had an absolute blast getting photos with her. If the weather cooperates one of these next couple nights, we are going to make the trek to the beach again to try to get them on one!
Tally for the Night:
Me: 85'' sandbar (new personal record)
Tight lines everyone.
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