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Wash out at the beach at Aasateague

Sheri and I took off for the beach at 2:00 am Saturday morning. We wanted to catch the early bite on Aasateague like we had the week before. Packed up and ready, we met Mike and Kim at Bucks for coffees. It was starting to drizzle a little but we were sure it would pass. As we headed down the beach we looked over to see the sun rising beneath the storm clouds. We all thought, “right on! It’s going to be a great day!” The surf was big but nothing to be concerned about. After all, we’ve got the Sand Blaster. As we pulled into our spot we noticed the sun had quickly disappeared. Mike and I looked at each other and wondered if we should we set up. It looked like rain. The wind started kicking up so we decided to sit in the truck until it passed. To our surprise, and most who had been watching the weather, the storm wasn’t moving. We sat in the trucks for a couple of hours until we finally decided that it just wasn’t going to happen. Let me tell you, after spending money on gas and driving that far it’s kind of disheartening to have to leave your fishing hole, but we did.

We headed back to the Ponderosa where we were able to check out the weather. It was a massive blob of rain just sitting in one area…our area! We knew then all we could hope for was that it would be gone by morning. The next morning came. As I looked out the window I noticed the flag still blowing in the strong wind. “That’s just great….a total waste. I guess we’ll just go home,” I said to Sheri. I went downstairs to find Mike in the garage looking at the weather. We both were anticipating bad news but to our surprise we saw a clear screen. I looked outside and saw the sun making its way out of the darkness. Mike said, “let’s go launch some bait.” I replied, “right on!” Now our only concern would be what the surf would look like. We were sure it had to be roaring. There surely would be no way it would be calm.

On our way to the island we saw cars that had floated away, high water over the bridges and a ton of water in the street. We had to at least go look at the beach. We made our way through the park to the ocean. As I was letting the air out of my tires Mike and Kim pulled in to say, “it’s not bad brother.” The waves aren’t that high. I couldn’t believe it and was excited to see for myself. As Sheri and I came over the dunes we couldn’t believe our eyes. It was game on.

The sea was high but coming straight in which is always a good thing. We set up, blasted two baits and started trying to catch bait… the usual procedure when we’re blastin’ for sharks. The water was murky but not brown; last week you could see the sharks coming through the surf which was very cool. It took two hours to get our first bite. Sheri was right next to the rod when it went down. She was unsure of the size due to the waves but knew it was a shark. We were all excited to see the first bite. It was a 40lb. dusky. Kim got a great picture and it was released unharmed.

The next was a little bigger and it was big Mikes turn. I have to ask him how big they are due to his back issue he assured us it wasn’t huge and he could handle it. He was right it was a dusky between 60-70lbs. We decided to tag this one so we took the measurements and tagged him in the back where they tell you to. I have to say I’m not at all happy with the type of tags that NOAA provides. These things are very unfriendly to the sharks. It’s a big harpoon- like connection that must be plunged into the shark alongside the spine. They say it doesn’t hurt the shark. How the hell do they know what hurts a shark and how uncomfortable it is to have a harpoon in your muscle? I’m going to put some time and focus into making a user friendly connection to the shark. When I say “user friendly” I’m talking about for the sharks sake not mine. I have no problem plunging it in but feel very weird about leaving something like that inside the shark. I have an idea once I’m done I will present it to NOAA hopefully they will feel the same sympathy for the sharks as I do. Of course we have to research them and tracking them is a great way of doing that. We just need to be a little less thoughtless about the process. I’m going to give it some thought and make it easier for everyone, most of all the sharks.

The third and final hookup was a monster ray. It was a battle. Towards the end he ran straight into shore. II thought, “right on, it’s almost over.” It was then he turned out and snapped the line. It’s always a bummer when you don’t get to see and safely release a fish but that’s just part of the game called fishin’. We at BUF always do our best to handle every beach situation with the utmost respect for the natural world and still have fun. It wasn’t our best day of fishing, but it was an awesome day at the beach for sure. BUF will be back in Assateague in two weeks to attempt some more shark tagging, so if you want to learn about fun conservation take a run down to marker 22. We’ll be there tagging sharks. Thanks, as always, to the Ponderosa for braving the storm. BUNKER UP!