Go on a Shark Fishing Adventure
in Marathon Florida Keys with
Capt. Chris Johnson and SeaSquared Charters!
Catch-and-release shark fishing in the Florida Keys is an extraordinary experience for anglers of all ages and abilities.
SeaSquared Charters shark fishes in waters less than five feet deep in calm Florida Keys Gulf areas. Because these calmer waters are away from the motion of the deeper ocean waters, shallow water angling for sharks is well suited for anyone prone to seasickness.
The fishing, however, is anything but calm.
We primarily target lemon, blacktip and bull sharks, typically ranging in length from three to eight feet. We often see nurse sharks, such as the big one above, but try not to catch them as they don’t offer the same fight as other species. On occasion, we also encounter tiger and hammerhead sharks which can attain lengths of fifteen feet and more!
Regardless of size, all sharks are capable of providing you quite a memorable thrill.
Catch-and-release shark fishing is truly a sport for everyone. It provides all the excitement of big game sport fishing at a fraction of the cost.
We find the sharks in the channels between islands and banks and at the edges of flats. They concentrate in these locations because their prey typically lingers there.
Wrecks and natural structures in thin Gulf waters also hold large quantities of fish and, as a result, attract sharks. The sharks cruise the perimeters in search of an easy meal in the form of a wounded or dying fish.
Center console boats are ideally suited for shark fishing.
Center console boats, such as the SeaSquared, are more appropriate for low depths than outsized sport fishing vessels. The SeaSquared also facilitates 360-degree fishing – essential as the sharks tend to lead you on quite a chase around the boat!
Our gear, tackle and rig choices vary according to species of shark and size of the bait. We match our equipment to our target.
Regardless of whether we’re shark fishing or any other kind of fishing, SeaSquared Charters always matches the tackle to the species’ size and fighting ability.
The majority of SeaSquared Charters shark fishing is done in shallow waters where we target lemon, blacktip and bull sharks. Here we use 20-pound spinning tackle with 9/0 circle hooks.
In deeper waters where we fish for the larger bull, hammerhead and tiger sharks, we have at least two 30-class conventional rods on the boat and upgrade our hooks to complement our gear.
To entice the sharks to the boat, we use any oily fish as dead bait, such as jack crevalle, barracuda, bluefish, bonita, ladyfish and the like.
We have a bait freezer that we keep filled to the brim with shark bait. Abundant chum creates a heavy scent, which excites the sharks and spurs them to bite aggressively.
We hang two or three carcasses or butterflied barracuda from a fish stringer off the back of the boat.
Tossing smaller dead baits or carcasses out to the sides makes the slick that much more enticing. These smaller baits also serve to feed the nurse sharks and stingrays. Their feeding activity attracts the targeted shark species and before you know it, we have frenzied waters.
Now we wait. It can take as little as just a few minutes for the sharks to show up, but at times I’ve had to wait a bit longer. The excitement is always worth the wait!
The appearance of nurse sharks and stingrays at our boat is a good indication that our guest of honor is not far behind.
The sharks tend to come in groups, rather than alone, especially around the channels and flats.
You will see them maneuvering themselves toward the boat. Then it’s as simple as picking your target and casting your bait to it. Sharks are competitive in their quest for the baits.
Once you get one eating, another follows and another and the action mounts to a frenzy.
Once you have a bite, allow the shark to eat the bait and swim off with it for a couple of seconds.
Then it’s game on! Each species of shark has its own unique features and habits, making every catch a unique experience.
Typically the sharks put on an exciting run away from the boat before slowing down to duke it out with the angler.
On the flats, the lemons make a long, 200-plus yard initial run, bulldog back to the boat and make another half run before they succumb to the pressure.
The blacktips and spinners normally rocket skyward when they feel the steel of the circle hook in their mouths. Long, energetic runs are then mixed with jumps.
The bulls, hammerheads and tigers tend to slug it out, with some fights lasting two hours or more.
The thrill of the catch cannot overshadow the importance of a proper release.
The reason we use circle hooks is that the hook will lodge in the corner of the shark’s jaw and will do no long-term harm. We use a Baker HookOut tool to remove the hook whenever possible.
Sharks are very unpredictable and no two behave the same when they feel trapped close to the boat. If removing the hook cannot be accomplished safely, we cut the wire leader as close to the hook as possible without putting anyone in harm’s way.
Light tackle, shallow water angling for sharks in the Florida Keys presents the opportunity to experience the exhilaration of big game sport fishing closer to shore and easier on your budget.
SeaSquared Charters practices
100% catch-and-release sport fishing for sharks.
All fish are released unharmed.
Check out this video of one of our family-friendly Shark Fishing Adventures
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Florida Keys Shark Fishing Adventure!
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