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Shark fishing on the shallow flats off key west, fl.

Report Date: December 9, 2013

As we headed out of the marina I gazed above into the sky. Searching for the sun. Lots of clouds. Knowing this forecast might be a problem for sight fishing for permit, we had set a plan to shark fish. My customer is a fly fisherman, so I brought along a handful of custom shark flies.
After a 20 minute boat ride toward the Gulf of Mexico, i eased the throttle back and trimmed up the mercury. We are now located on a shallow flat somewhere north of Key West. My customer grabbed his 10 wt. fly pole which had a pre selected fly with about 8inches of wire leader attached to the standard 7 foot tapered leader. Up to the bow of the skiff he went. I reached in the live well and pulled out a dead Bonita that a friend had given me from his offshore charter the day prior. After a few minutes of medieval slashing I securely tied the Bonita to the stern off the skiff. As I climbed up onto the poling platform I noticed an unusual wave pattern pushing toward the back of the boat. The sun had rosť up in the sky, yet covered up with clouds. My ability to see what caused this wake pattern was not possible. Although, I assumed it was a shark. I pulled down the flats in a zig zag pattern. My customer had stripped off about 40 feet of fly line which now lay on the deck. Poised and ready for action he stands.
Shark approaching at 2 o'clock. This was the first confirmed animal. Looks to be a bull shark.
He laughed and suggested that his 10wt. might not be enough rod for that size creature.
I told him he was correct, but it will be fun to try. The shark, I would guess would tip the scale easy @ 180lb. Unfortunately he threw the fly line across his back and spooked that poor shark like a mouse running from a cat. Now a few more sharks have begun to surround the boat.
Making jokes about serving up breakfast to the shark, I threw some larger chunks of Bonita into the water. Getting the sharks amped up and ready to eat anything that lands in the water. A feeding frenzy. Yes, like on the discovery channel.
Four or five lemon shark, a couple of black tips and a drive by bull shark.
Now fast approaching the boat with the dorsal fin exposed, a blacktip shark.
I suggested we we smack the fly down quite hard onto the water just a foot in front of the shark.
My customer delivered.........
The shark snapped its jaws at the fly.
Fish on!
The fly line raced off the deck and within second the fish was on the reel. We had a good bit of drag set on the reel, however, the fish was clearing out now 60 or 80 yards of backing.
These blacktip or spinner shark as some refer to them, have a wonderful ability to jump out of the water. I call it the barrel roll. In mid air they spin, once, twice or even 4 times before landing back in the water as this shark did. Unfortunately as they rollover in mid air the leader will often get cut due to the course skin of a shark. This shark was no different. One good run and a jump and it was all over.
The best one minute fight I ever had, my customer yelled as he retrieved back in all of his fly line.

So as the day progressed we did manage to hook a land two lemons sharks. The largest was 130 to 150lb. Although its hard to tell the weight without a scale.
Regardless of weight accuracy, I guarantee the fun is all there.

Shark fishing on the flats. Fly casting or light spin casting. It a good option on the sub par visibility day.

Key west has miles and miles of flats and more sharks than the average swimmer would care to know about.

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Capt. Lenny Leonard
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