This is a shark on the fly story. Not as big that we would have needed “a bigger boat” but exciting and funny little guys on the fly rod.
The lemon shark (Negaprion brevirostris) is a stocky and powerful shark that gives a exciting fight on the fly rod. They are often found in shallow subtropical waters. Often feeding on the shallows, these sharks use electro receptors to find their main source of prey, fish or in our case an artificial fly. To come to the point I have seen them already a few years ago on Cuba but I didn’t give them a lot of attention. I don’t know why. Today I regret my lack of interest because I didn’t know how funny they are.
There are fish that are hard to catch, some are a thrill to land, others are even easy to catch and there are fish that are a hell of a fun to catch. The lemons are a category 10 hurricane on the fly rod. They are not hard to catch, honestly more the opposite of a hard to outsmarting fish. But their behavior is unique for all fish I have caught so far. Its their movement in the water, the way how they react on the fly and how they hunt the fly down. Entirely special in many ways.
How to catch them? You have to hit the fly for their head. The closer you bring the fly the more aggressive they will react on the fly. If the fly lands directly on their nose they go straight for the fly. Else you have to get their attention by doing some line strips whereas it seams that they react more on the pressure waves from the fly than from the visual imprint. Yes we know sharks for this. Let the fly stop and allow the shark to search for the fly. When the fly is at the fly make a short strip and you got it. Be aware the sharks mouth is very tough so you have to make a hard line strike.
Once you hooked up to a shark they are dirty fighters running in all possible directions and also target towards you. One shark on Los Roques, I hooked him just a few meters away from me, swam directly through my legs, broke my rod and chew on my the broken tip until not much was left. In general you don’t need a heavy rod because in most of the cases they only reach moderate sizes of around 3-4 feet. But we have seen also bigger ones where I wouldn’t have known how to land them without loosing an arm. I read somewhere that they can reach sizes up to 3,5 meters. I will never forget the shark who was chasing a hooked bonefish down to my feet, for sure not less than 6 feet long. I’m lying if I tell you now that we stayed cool. In that moment we both wished we would have been able to run over the water like Jesus did.
Were we successful? Yes we were! Although there there were not too many promising spots on Los Roques beside the protected areas we combined the shark fishing with bone fishing because the share the same habitat. The combination is the key to a successful day. Often the struggle of a hooked bonefish has attracted a hungry shark who wanted to check out what’s going on. So we went out several times and hooked a good dozen of fish and landed around two third of them, unfortunately lost some fish too.
How to land them? This is something that one will pose major problems for the first time. Unlike other fish sharks try to bite you when you try to grab them. Never grab the tail unless you have fixed the head. They can completely bend back and bite you a finger off. The safest way to grab them is by a neck grip. Because of their rough skin this you can hold them securely until they are tired. But please don’t hold them too long. Sharks need to move to breath.
In my opinion a must to catch them when visiting Los Roques. Also try to freeze them when turning them around. It works.
Next Chapter: Do’s and Don’ts