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First Shark Trip of 2014!

Wow, what a week of fishing to say the least! It started of Saturday, June 28th and the bite lasted until I left July 2nd. Saturday morning I hit the beach early and it wasn’t long before I had a bite and what a whopper! It was an 80lb. dusky though it fought like a whale. It was a little challenge to get him landed but when you’re fishing with the Sand Blaster you gotta Bunker Up and get it done!

He was unhooked and released in a matter of minutes with a little help from a neighboring fishermen. That’s one of the things I love most about fishing, how fellow anglers are willing to lend a hand. The rest of the day was more of the same bite after bite. I blasted 11 baits had 11 bites and landed 3 sharks and 1 ray. I ran low on bait and decided to call it a day and head over to the “Ponderosa.” I picked up 50 bunker from “Bucks Bait & Tackle on my way, knowing the bite was on I wanted to be sure we were loaded for bear! I pulled in to see Mike and Kim working on their house. They were both eager to hit the beach in the morning after hearing the success I had that day.

The next morning we hit the beach early, blasted 2 baits and eyeballed with the typical “we’re gonna get a big one look.” As usualy we were right. Kim had just made us all a sandwich and before we could get down the last bite…WHAM! there went the right side rod. I swear I felt salami hit my leg as big Mike ran me over to get the rod! You gotta be quick to beat this guy to the pole. It was another 80-100 dusky and put up a good fight. Before we knew it we had a crowd of about 30 people around. When you get a big boy on you have to go into intense catch and release mode. We at Bunker Up fishin appreciate the battle from the beast and realize the exhaustion on both ends so we do our best to unhook and release the fish as soon as possible.

We are loaded up with tags from NOAA and plan on tagging as many sharks as we can this summer to help the cause. When tagging sharks or any other species you must always assess the situation and use your best judgement on whether to take the time measuring and placing the tag. Critical seconds can be lost just getting the hook out and you don’t want to stress the fish more than he has already been, so chose your battles wisely especially when it comes to tagging sharks. The last thing you want to do is send him back exhausted with a tag in him. The chances of him dying when released are high and all the work you just put into doing it will be wasted along with his or her possible long life. We decided not to tag this shark due to the time and fight so Mike turned him around and slid him back into the sea.

It was a beautiful day and the bites kept coming along with a cow nose ray and some smaller sharks. We landed a small dusky and were greeted near the surf by a little girl who was just in love with the Sand Blaster. She said to her father “dad this thing is cool we gotta get one!” Her father avoided the issue and her enthusiasm towards it, which i thought was a little odd. I just took it as he didn’t have the money to buy one. His exact words where, “we don’t need that thing to catch fish.” Never the less, I was polite an offered Abby (his little girl) a chance to blast out a bait. Her father had already walked away but she remained and said, “yes I wanna blast it!” I told her she had to do everything exactly how I told her. She nodded her head and said, “yep!” Mike and I loaded the Sand Blaster, and I showed her what to do and man she blasted one so far we lost it going out!!! Everyone cheered and the smile on her face was priceless. I reached into my truck and gave her a BUF hat she was so happy and couldnt wait to see what might bite her long cast. I was feeling a little burnt from the sun and tired from the trip so I retired to the chair on the shade side of the truck. I could still see the rod she casted along with our other pole. Big Mike was standing next to her rod. My eyes where ready to shut when I noticed a slight bounce. Mike noticed it as well. Then, “WHAM,” there she went. Mike immediately ran towards the surf and said, “this is a big one.” He was right. It was a 150lb. dusky on Abby’s blast! By the time we got this one in, the crowd was 75+ and Abby was right there with a smile. While we were reeling, the shark went sideways and made its way towards some lines. Not usually a concern due to the fact most considerate fisherman remove their lines when a big one is on. Mike couldn’t believe this guy was sitting watching all the lines about to get tangled. He finally got up after Big Mike had to remove his lines with one hand while fighting the shark with the other. I was on my way down to the water with the pliers when I looked up and realized the guy on the beach still sitting on his ass. I said, “Yo! Buddy really?” This was another example of when not to tag a shark. It was taking to much time to get him him and we decided again to remove the hook quick and release him. Exhausted we decided to call it a day.

The next day I went out by myself and it was more of the same only with another twist. We had another run in with a kite surfer. He was running close to shore. I tried to wave him off but it was too late. He was now caught up in the Bunker Up dream! We use 80lb. braid so he had no choice but to release the board. He calmly waited for his board and was up and running in no time. No harm done but a lesson learned for him for sure. I headed back to the Ponderosa with an urge to come back out for a little sunset fishing. I convinced Big Mike to ride along. We were only going to fish for a couple hours and that’s all it took; 4 casts, 4 bites and Big Mike again beat me to the rod to land a monster 150 butterfly ray! This guy flipped it over and we removed the hook in seconds! I honestly don’t see anyone on the beach taking the hooks out of huge rays. Most are afraid and flat out dont care about them. BUF is very lucky to have a crazy fishermen like Big Mike on the team! It makes most situations a breeze. I have to admit Im getting a little sick of him beating me to the rod! Gotta start working out for sure.

The next day was all me and Kim and what a day! We met up with Jim Bridges and his son, Hayden, fellow BUF team members who were already blasting by the time we arrived. They had already caught a few small sharks and hung out with us to catch a few more. I also had some help from Kevin, a young lad who just could’nt get enough of the Sand blaster. He helped load and blast bait. By the end of the day I was calling him Ram Rod! He also caught a nice dusky with one of his blasts. It was way cool to see his face when he landed it. His father could’nt be prouder. His father also said Santa may just have to get one of those for next year. While I was trying to unhook a 200lb. ray I noticed my other rod starting to bounce. I ran up to get the pliers for the ray and on my way down the other rod bent to the sand! I yelled for someone to help because I still had to deal with the monster ray. Again the same neighbor fishermen who’s name has slipped my mine was more than willing to help. He faught it the whole way and I helped him land it . When it popped out of the surf we saw it for the first time and wow a 150lb. Sand Tiger! It’s not often you get one of these in broad daylight so I had to decide to take a picture or tag it. We had time for either since it came in pretty quick and I got the hook out in seconds. He was full of life so I went with the picture due to the fact it was a team effort from a fellow fishermen. I wanted to give him a memory along with a great promo shot for us. We kept the shark in the surf. You should never drag any shark up onto the dry sand. Keep them close to the surf so it’s easier to release them back into the sea. It also keeps the water going throw their gill slits. The last cast was all Kim. We where both excited when the rod went down and I wanted to see her land a big shark. The fight was heavy and lasted a while but in the end it was another large 100lb ray. Great job Kim! We’ll get one next time.

Thanks as Always for all those who helped especially Mike and Kim Costanzo for putting up the BUF Team. Until next time….. Bunker UP!