Anyone who hasn’t heard about the rise in shark activity this summer must be stuck at the bottom of a well or completely disconnected from the world. No doubt, the super-hot waters are making a nice home for a gallery of sharks along the Carolinas coast.
For shark fisherman, the rise in activity has been well received, with consistent reel thrills from shallow creeks to the ocean blue. But for anglers targeting redfish and speckled trout, the rise in shark activity may be affecting future stocks of these prized gamefish.
The waters in the Georgetown area are filled with large, breeder-sized bull reds and sow speckled trout. While the redfish will not begin spawning until later in the year, the speckled trout spawn is well under way, and many large, sow speckled trout are sharing habitat with battalions of sharks.
Jeff Lattig of Living Water Guide Service guides anglers on Winyah Bay. Last week, he had a disturbing trip.
“It was just another day of chartering, and we were catching bull reds in the river channel until bull sharks started harassing our fish,” said Lattig (843-997-4655). “We were fighting a fish hard for five minutes until something hammered the line and dumped half the spool. And then the line went limp, and all we had on the other end was a head. After the second head we pulled in, I changed up my tactics.”
According to Lattig, it’s not unusual. Many anglers have reported losing fish at the boat from shark attacks. The summer fishing pressure and 85-degree waters are the perfect concoction for the fleet of sharks.
Lattig said anglers don’t have to quit fishing, they just need to reduce stress while on the line and get fish out of harm’s way as fast as possible.
“When you are in the market for larger, breeder trout or bull reds, anglers can reduce stress on the fish by using heavier tackle, tightening down on the drag, getting the fish to the boat quick, and making a quick release,” he said.
An exhausted fish is an easy target for the bull sharks. If too many big breeder fish are eliminated from the population, it could impact the fishery down the road.
“I would rather break off a fish with a tight drag than lose one to the sharks. We depend on those fish to allow the resource to rejuvenate itself,” he said.
Sharks aren’t just doing damage in the deep water of the Winyah Bay shipping channel. Anglers are reporting problems with sharks from the jetties to less than a foot of water next to the marsh grass.
Lattig urges anglers to use extra caution when handling fish boatside because you never know when a big bull shark is preparing to make your fish and your arm his next meal.