Sharks and bonefish [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Sharks and bonefish

06-29-2008, 09:31 AM
In summer I seem to loose more bonefish to lemon sharks (than in other seasons), and I finelly learned how to get a lemon shark to give it up. Jump on it! I can understand why folks might be apprehensive about this, as I was when first shown how, but lemons simply do not have the instinct to do anything other than flee when stepped on. They WILL NOT bite.
So next time you can get close enough to a lemon bird-dogging your hooked fish, run up to it and jump on it, and he's out of there, all thoughts of your bonefish forgotten.
It really works and is really not at all dangerous to the angler. However, make sure you're sure of that second dorsal, as I wouldn't advise jumping on the back of a bull shark, but those are much rarer on the bonefish flats.

06-29-2008, 11:58 AM
Nice try! Hopefully no one will try that.
if sharks are following your bone in the Bahamas, you have three options:

1. let the shark get the bone--not my preferred method.

2. loosen the drag so the bone outruns the shark, usually throwing the shark off and often working.

3. if the shark is fairly close to you, you can jump up and down or stomp your feet hard on the bottom--this usualy scares the shark away.

these do not always work--somethimes you have a shark that is super aggressive and will not give up--say goodbye to the bone.

06-30-2008, 06:22 AM
Why not try what I suggest?

06-30-2008, 07:12 AM
Josko -

When the reality show "Josko - the Shark Master" hits HD cable syndication I swear will not miss a single episode :)

06-30-2008, 07:49 AM
I would love to see that show! Would get a ton of hits on you tube.

06-30-2008, 08:01 AM
I actually tried that, once...I still have all my body parts but it was close. The Shark was bigger than I thought :Eyecrazy:

06-30-2008, 08:16 AM
While wading one time in Turks and Caicos... I stepped on a shark ... tail end.. the shark completely bent in half and bit my wading shoe .. didnt do any damage to me but I couldnt believe how that shark curled around... the guide couldn't stop laughing... I had a different take on it....!!

I have tried everything when they dog me on a bonefish flat... slapping the rod tip on the water...carrying small sized rocks with me to throw at them... most times they will run but some just have an attitude...and keep coming or stick around...

Not sure if I would jump on one Josko but I am willing to try anything...... ONCE !

You have more experience than I do...

stay well

06-30-2008, 01:31 PM
Wow. You're crazy. That's right, I said it. I don't like sharks. Vince knows what a wuss I am. Bastards have teeth...

06-30-2008, 04:11 PM
I like you, at one time was not a big fan of sharks. My last trip to Abaco, it was wild. Wading, the buggers would approach, I remained still, at 1 to 2 feet, they shot away like bullet....perhaps I have a false sense of security now, but , I am a lot more comfortable now. As we tried to attract sharks to cast to, Marty splashed the water with his pole, and I with the tip of the rod. This peaked their interest and often would turn them toward the disturbance in the water. Now, with that said, jumpin on the shark may work, but I would not want to be in an area of murky water with an animal that responds to " in distress" signals.
my 5 cents (inflation, falling US Dollar and oil speculators :biggrin: )
The man fish fear the least................

06-30-2008, 04:23 PM
on my first trip to grand bahama 4 years ago i had a large bone on the line and it was taking a long time getting it in. a few sharks began going after it. the guide threw conk shells at them to keep them away. finally one of the sharks made a b-line at full speed toward the bone. the guide, was about 30 or 40 feet from the point of intersection. without hesitation he ran head on at full speed at the on comming shark and jumped right on its head. i was freaked out. but josko's story and solution is accurate near as i can see.

06-30-2008, 05:50 PM
wow what a story.... you must have flipped out wondering what the guide was doing...

I am with you...they are too fast in the water and if they want you..there is not much you can do! I don't target them anymore and I dont make a commotion when they are around.

Funny short story... I was on a Windjammer Cruise through the islands a long time ago. I brought my spinning outfit and had some tube lures for cuda. There were several Chicago cops on the trip and they were great fun. One of them was watching me cast way out from a beach to some sharks and I asked him if he would like to try it... he jumped at the chance because he had hardly ever fished before. I told him to cast way out and reel fast... he did and then two big sharks started following the lure and he freaked out and turned and ran off the flat but he still had the rod in hand and was still pulling the lure behind him and the sharks kept chasing after him !!! We all went hysterical watching the scene ! The poor guy gave up fishing for the rest of the trip.

Jim Miller
06-30-2008, 06:15 PM
I wanna see the video! :whoa:

06-30-2008, 08:43 PM
Like a wise old Bahamian guide once said;

"yoo don wanna be hurtin' no shaaaaak mon cos one day he gonna com back an hurt you"

07-01-2008, 10:37 AM
I have been close to sharks on a number of occasions. I belong to the school of stay away.
When they get close a stamp of the foot usually works. In the Seychelles the guides have long poles with spikes on.
Having seen the scars on John Donnell's arm I am not going anywhere near sharks. if I can help it. :tsk_tsk:

07-01-2008, 07:28 PM
Josko. It may not work every time so caution is necessary. Some sports may not even know the difference between a Bull and Lemon shark. Thanks for the advice though. I'll give it a try.

Just for Ha Ha's, do a Google on Gannet Man! He likes to jump on REALLY BIG stuff.


07-01-2008, 09:39 PM
One other tactic when a shaak is zeroing in on a hooked bone is simply bust the tippet. If you're fishing 12lb or less, its not that difficult. In fact, lots of us do it without even trying on occaision :roll:

Just don't try to do it with the rod - it will probably break.

Dont worry too much about the fish swimming off with the fly. We all fishen' baahbless, don' we mon? :wink:

07-02-2008, 06:38 AM
One of the best strategies to avoid lemon shark/bonefish confrontations is to have a guide that carries and uses a spear. This year at Acklins, we had a guide, David, that carried a spear for spiny lobsters. He was deadly with it on lemon sharks.

07-02-2008, 01:13 PM
2. loosen the drag so the bone outruns the shark, usually throwing the shark off and often working.

I've tried this a few times, without success. As soon as the bone has the fly line and 50 meter backing out there, it's too heavy of a load to drag for a bone, especially while changing direction (when the shark comes closer). With this strategy, I'm 1 for 6. The only time this worked was when there were mangroves close by, the sharks got disoriented and appeared not to be able to hone in on the prey, perhaps somewhat confused by the line whipping the surface away from the bonefish.

Just breaking of the fish, as mentioned, is an option. I've never managed to snap the leader (I use 20lbs), but unless it's hooked deep, it will often come loose from the bonefish's mouth, I find this to be the case especially with smaller bones and heavy flies. It is of course never the case when you're fighting a small one, and you spot a trophy bonesaurus cruising right at you!!

So based on my rather limited experience, I find it works best to reel the bonefish in hard, cancel the showmanship run and bring it home immediately, if it breaks off, that's fine, and if it doesn't, go between the bone and the shark, scaring them off has never been a problem. Luckily, because there is no plan B at this stage.. :chuckle: It does make for a good memory, I once had an evil sharkie (about 5 feet) trying to get at my bone which was almost reeled in, the shark had been a bit tentative as I was wading right at it, but it suddenly made one last go at it and the bone swam through my feet, with the shark hot on its tail. It would be a blatant lie to claim I responded particularly cooly to this, jumping roughly a yard in the air and letting out a rather high-pitched non-manly scream at the top of my lungs... :eek: Perhaps a cool man's plan B is to dismantle the rod and use the butt-piece to fend the bastard off.

It is interesting to note how different sharks can behave, sometimes I've had them get close to an unprotected hooked bone, only to turn away. Sometimes you can hold the shark at bay by wading towards it and cutting of its attack angle, all while playing a splashing bone. Sometimes the shark is all business and heads straight for your fish, I've seen them come from 50 yards away, 2 seconds after the bone is hooked, the shark came at light speed, and there was nothing tentative about its approach. It is certainly something that triggers their killer instinct on and off, I was once told seeing the prey fish on its side was one trigger. Perhaps the different modes of the shark (and they are curious creatures always stopping for a look when they hear/see/smell something) are important for the success rate on rescuing the bone.

I don't know about jumping on a shark, but stepping on one's head seems reasonable. Since it's mouth is underneath, it can do nothing but suck on some sand. Sometimes the bone is smart enough to go high in the water, then the shark practially has to jump out to get it's mouth at the fish, a spectacular sight.

07-19-2008, 01:03 AM
I had a similar experience years ago on the Airport Flat in Exuma. Here's how my log records it (edited in a futile attempt at brevity):

"It’s been a while and I’m not catching these fish anyway so I tell J.J. we’d better leave. He says to keep fishing while he walks back for the skiff.

He doesn’t get halfway before I hook and land a decent fish. I’ve cracked the code now and the school still hasn’t spooked. I cast again and I hook another but just as I’m thinking it’s about over, the fish bolts again and I see a shadow part the school. Shark. I reflexively point my rod and throw slack in my line. I can feel the bonefish just sitting there, perfectly still, which fools the shark. As the shark swims off to investigate the rest of the school I come tight and reel like mad, trying to drag “my fish” out of the school. The fish bolts upwind and I fight it briefly before something causes me to glance around. The shark is swimming straight at me. (It's only a four-footer, but it's still intimidating.) I stomp my foot, hoping to scare it off as I had done with other sharks before, but it came straight on – homing in on the struggling fish behind me.

At the last second I jump as the shark swims straight under me, but about halfway up I got mad – ornery, wild dog mean mad. Instead of letting it glide harmlessly under me I stomped down with all my might, right on the sharks' back. It shot off in a boil of sand, more shocked than hurt.

I quickly land the fish and look up only to find myself surrounded by at least four more. They are arranged neatly in a semicircle between the bonefish school and me. I'm still mad. Yelling, I stomp toward them, stabbing them with my rod and jumping up and down. They move off but all this noise has scared the school of bones as well. I’m afraid to lower the bonefish back into the water for fear of attracting the sharks to me, but know I cannot hold him out of the water much longer. Quickly I wade as near as I can to the main school and release the tired fish. I watch it swim slowly away and not fifteen feet from me a shark materializes and eats it, severing it about an inch behind the gill cover. I stomp at the shark and yell, but it’s too late. “My fish” is dead.

I scare the shark off its meal, but also anger it. It begins to follow me so I retreat to the shelter of some mangroves shrubs. The shark still follows, its body-language an exaggerated threat. Nothing I do will deter it and it stays about a rod-length behind me as I wade in and out of the mangroves. Finally I hit on a tactic that worked.

Walking in a rough circle, I wade past the severed bonefish head – a mute horror staining the water red. The shark smells the blood and forgets about me as it finishes its meal.

Minutes later I meet JJ and my fishing partner on the other side of the flat. I tell them about my adventure and they both start laughing. “What?” I ask.

I heard now that JJ was already laughing to himself as he got back to the boat. He had saw me fighting a fish. When asked what the joke was, he said “Dose sharks, dey prob’ly chasin’ him right now.” Great. I was almost devoured alive and my guide and girlfriend think it’s funniest thing since Seinfeld."

07-24-2008, 07:55 PM
Jumping on a shark is pure foolishness. 95% of the time it may flee but that 5% it does not you will be in for a world of hurt. You might as well say it's okay to walk around tiger infested jungle because all you have to do is outbluff a tiger. It may work some of the time but you will regret the one time it does not work and you are a tiger's dinner. I've dived with them, fished for them, observed them, read about them and although in general they are not out to eat people for the most part, they can do wicked damage with their mouth and you'd be tempting fate by doing that. I love my gamefish but not enough to risk my life for a little bonefish. A shark eating a bonefish, sad as it may be, is part of nature. Sharks eat bonefish, sharks eat tarpon, sharks eat fish. I've read stories of someone being bitten by a 20 inch spiny dogfish shark he was playing with and required months of surgery to fix his arm and tendons. Imagine what a 4 ft lemon could do to you.

Be that as it may if you want to use that tactic to scare the shark away be my guest. Nature has a way of culling the weak, foolish and stupid of any species lol.

07-24-2008, 08:01 PM
One of the best strategies to avoid lemon shark/bonefish confrontations is to have a guide that carries and uses a spear. This year at Acklins, we had a guide, David, that carried a spear for spiny lobsters. He was deadly with it on lemon sharks.

I'm hoping your guide uses the spear to scare and not kill the shark. Sharks are in general an endangered species, over fished in many cases to a mere 10% of less of the population 20 years ago. As much as we may adore bonefish, tarpon and permit here, sharks are just as magnificent and in many ways more important to the ocean's ecological balance than the bonefish now that their numbers are severely depleted. I'd be very pissed if my guide did harm to a shark to save a bone. The shark has as much right to live as the bonefish and also has a right to eat a bonefish - it's nature and the natural order of things.

Go read the Shark Chronicles by John Musick to find out more about the subject.

07-25-2008, 01:02 AM
Be that as it may if you want to use that tactic to scare the shark away be my guest. Nature has a way of culling the weak, foolish and stupid of any species lol.:lildevl:

That's spot on :smokin:

07-25-2008, 08:12 AM

That's spot on :smokin:

I agree with that also. The sharks that feed on bonefish are going to get enough of them to keep thier belly full whether they take if off the end of a line or not. True that they cull the weak and old but that fish may also be the larger fish. Could be the fish, the dumber ones, that we are able to hook are the ones that are getting culled and if you look at it that way then the ones left are going to be even more difficult to hook. So its still to our advantage to keep as many hooked fish alive as possible.
I try to release every fish I land as best I can but I don't get too upset if a shark or cuda gets one.
One thing I have learned is to pay attention to where you release a fish. I had one nice fish that I hooked on a flat while poling. The flat where it hooked was adjacent to a shallower sand flat with a deeper channel separating them. The guide moved the boat across the chanel and let me get out of the boat to land the fish on the edge of the shallow flat. This meant that I had to pull the fish across the channel to get him to the shallow flat. Well I did land it. I did revive it and I did release it. Where I messed up was releasing it on the side of the channel. That fish hadn't gone 5' before a shark took it. Felt like it took it right out of my hands. I can picture that shark sitting there in the deeper water just watching and waiting for me to let that fish go. Lucky to have all my digits. So I learned that I need to walk up further onto the shallow flat to release the fish and give it a better chance to survive.

07-26-2008, 04:01 AM
The sharks that feed on bonefish are going to get enough of them to keep thier belly full whether they take if off the end of a line or not.

Actually, I believe few sharks have the speed needed to nab a healthy bonefish cold. Cudas, maybe, if they're lucky. On the other hand, a bonefish that's tired from a fight is easy game if it can't make it back to the school... if it even can.

Without reservation (nevermind my past, greedy behaviour) I can say that if a shark chases your hooked bonefish there is only one solution: break it off. Fast.

In point of fact those sharks that frequent bonefish flats and quickly nab a hooked bone have learned this behaviour. Sharks are much too cautious to rush into such a situation, especially with humans standing around. (Of course, I'm talking about your average lemon sharks, here. Bulls may be a different story, but luckily they are rare.) I think that the spear-gun is a great idea... if you take the tip off the spear. Sharks have famously thick skin and seem to be quite hard to hurt. A solid blow from the blunt point of a spear may be the answer. By no means do I suggest actually harming sharks (they are truly magnificent animals which deserve our respect and attention) but a regularly fished bonefish flat sets up an unnatural situation that in itself may throw the local eco-system out of whack. This is always the case when one species gets an unfair advantage (or disadvantage, for that matter). I'm merely suggesting that if sharks can learn to steal bonefish, they can learn not to.

We all want to catch bonefish, as do our guides. Don't fall for their advice to just throw slack at the bonefish. Do your conscience and the fish a favor: pop it off.

Oh, yeah, and don't jump on sharks if you can help it. It's a great ride, but certainly not for everyone.


07-28-2008, 05:45 AM
Why not just catch them first? :devil:
Great fun on 7wt and they wont bother you for the next hour or so :hihi:


07-28-2008, 06:32 AM
Lars !!!

I think you drank too much akravit that day..!!!

stay well and stick to Bonefish my friend..

07-29-2008, 07:50 AM

That is a beautiful shark !!! Well done !!! I am starting to enjoy sharks on the flats when the bone fishing is slow. What wt rod ? Type wire (Strands), and hook size did you use for that monster ? I had a blast last month with 4-5 pounders on my 9 wt.

07-29-2008, 09:24 AM
Lars -

Nice smile. I nominate Lars as 2008 Flyfishing Forum GQ Award winner!

Oh wait is that the shark or Lars in front? :lildevl:

Seriously, on both fronts. Nice shark and you do get the 2008 Forum GQ award please see congratulations post.

07-29-2008, 05:28 PM
No akvavit that day thou it was close to easter.
However, it was last day on Acklins, and as I was packing my stuff at the lodge I found an intact bottle of carribean rum :hihi:
Guess what happend :Eyecrazy:

I got her on my 7 weight back-up rod (65 USD but it lasted). We caught several other Lemons at this size on "clean fly" but to be honest this particular lady was caught with a chunk from a small jack-fish. Im not sure about the hook, but it was an Owner - not that big. Let my dig out more details for my upcoming Acklins trip report :tongue:
The wire is called "Malin Hard-Wire stainless steel leader"... Single strand seems to do the job and is fairly easy to throw as it doesnt weigh much. Works for Cudas as well :devil:

Haha - I cant tell how honoured I am :)
Will it enclose some sort of cash price as well? :hihi:

Ohh, btw it wasnt an attempt to steal this thread :tsk_tsk: :chuckle: