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Time to depart from our Safari Series and broaden our focus. This week we are on Florida's Gulf Coast fishing off shore for sharks. An odd choice perhaps but the grandson is shark-crazy and the plan is to catch, tag and release sharks as part of a shark study.
My son found a captain qualified for this so we have committed to this adventure for the day. The plan is to fish behind shrimp boats off the coast using various dead fish parts as bait.
We get nice weather but the plan fails. The shark aren't biting and after six hours for laying down bait behind shrimpers both active and inactive, we come up empty. Not a single shark caught or tagged. Thankfully the weather is cool and sunny and the sunscreen effective so we are no worse for the wear as we spend the day moving from shrimp boat to shrimp boat.
The next day we are with the same captain and head out to try again for a couple of hours before heading inshore to fish for snipe. After a couple of empty tries behind shrimp trawlers, we come upon this pair with the boat on the right active sorting the "trash" fish out of a recent haul of shrimp and dumping it overboard. Perfect for attracting shark looking for an easy snack.
Before we set our bait and begin fishing our captain strikes up a conversation with the crew on the shrimp boat. Mike, who is working the back of the boat, is happy for the conversation.
"How long have you been out?" asks our captain.
"About a month. Quiet the last few days but a good catch today. Were out of Houston."
"Would you trade beer for trash?"
"What have you got?"
You can guess the answer to that question. After learning that Mike preferred a beer we did not have, we made the trade anyway.
And, that is how a morning's search for sharks in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in a catch of fresh shrimp. You can see the catch in my son's hand below.
And, what about the shark fishing?
The "trash" was put to use immediately. Once we settled in a spot behind the shrimp boat our captain started tossing the dead sea creatures in the water. And, from the electronic fish detector on deck we could see it was attracting a lot of fish below.
Mike and his fellow crew members also kept releasing "trash" into the gulf as well, supplementing our free feast for scavengers below. Unfortunately, Mike and his buddies were more expansive in what they included in their trash disposal, tossing crushed Budweiser cans into the water as well. We watched as the cans floated away in the tide.
I wondered? Were the shrimpers unconcerned about trashing the gulf or were they disposing of the evidence of an unsanctioned trade? Possibly both.
Our luck with shark fishing did not improve. After releasing all the chum into the water and tossing out two lines baited for shark we came up empty again.
Not that our six-year old grandson grew bored however. He made a morning out of inspecting the discarded fish and crabs and tossing them overboard.
After exhausting our supply of chum, we headed in shore for a couple of successful hours fishing for snipe. When we departed the boat mid-afternoon we headed to our condo to clean up before dinner.
The freshly caught shrimp were later prepared at a local restaurant. A nice end to a day on the water.
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The venture moola blog comes to you from Atlanta, Georgia. Find it at readjanus.com. Copyright Clinton Richardson.
Travel, business and history with original photos.
Clinton Richardson - author, photographer, business advisor and traveler.
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