Almost always when we get reports of good shark fishing, a number of readers ask questions about the safety of wading or swimming in the surf.
Sunday’s picture of a large jackfish being severed off the 61st Street Fishing Pier along with an earlier column about shark fishing around San Luis Pass triggered a lot of responses.
My short answer to questions about sharks is anglers need to respect them and not necessarily fear for their lives.
While there are encounters with sharks from time to time, it has been decades since the last known shark fatality took place along the Texas Coast.
There are some basic common sense rules that anyone swimming in the surf should follow, and let’s start with the wade fisherman.
Wading the surf for fish is a very popular and inexpensive method of fishing.
Anglers being bitten by sharks while wading the surf are usually fishing in and among large schools of bait, especially pods of mullet.
Also, attacks have occurred when stringers of recently caught fish were pulled too close behind the fisherman and a leg was mistaken for one of the fish.
Keep a safe distance from concentrations of bait, especially in waist-deep and deeper waters.
Use extra-long stringers that carry your catch several feet behind you.
I have had the experience of feeling a tug on my stringer, almost like I hit a snag, and turned around to see only the head portion of the fish remaining.
Believe me, a sight like that will wake up anyone in the surf.
Sharks, particularly the larger variety, prefer feeding at night and in the early morning hours.
Avoid the surf late at night. If you drive along the beaches on either side of San Luis Pass at night when serious shark fishermen have their lines in the water, you will observe that none are wade-fishing.
Another common sense rule is to avoid getting into the surf if you have an open wound.
All of you know how sharks have a sixth sense when it comes to smelling blood.
Enjoy the surf but keep in mind that you are an intruder in another’s territory and give the respect it deserves.