Landing and Releasing a Shark From Shore

Catch and release is the best way to go about shark fishing, unnecessarily taking an apex predator from its environment creates an unbalanced ecosystem. Please help to keep it balanced.

Always think of safety when handling a shark. These apex predators twist, turn, and some times they even jump when landed, so you need to be careful and try as much as possible to prevent the shark from injury. Also remember about your own safety and that of others, quite a few nasty injuries have been caused by a thrashing shark.

Once you have the shark on the beach quickly lay it horizontally. Do not place the sharks on hot surfaces since their skin may burn easily. Do not place the sharks on rocks; always keep the shark in the wet sand as close to the water as possible, preferably with water covering at least one quarter of its lower body so it can support its own weight. Hold the shark firmly behind the head and around the tail wrist (if the shark is big, a team of two people will be needed or you will not be able to prevent the shark from thrashing) once the shark is calm try using wet gloves and/or a wet towel, and then try to remove the hook with a long hook remover tool. If the hook cannot be removed easily, the leader should be cut as close to the mouth as possible. Usually hooks will eventually fall out or pass through the stomach. Trying to remove a deeply lodged hook could damage internal organs or blood vessels on the fish, and if your hand slips you will run the risk of injuring your self (you do not want to slip your hand inside a shark’s mouth).

Often, if a shark is turned over onto its back, or held upside down, it will become quite calm and easy to handle, probably because it becomes confused in this position. As well as laying sharks on their backs, placing a wet towel over their eyes will also often help to calm them. Don’t be too confident, the shark may look calm but it can snap so quickly you may not be able to respond and may end up with an injury. ALWAYS remain alert.

The internal organs of many species of shark are loosely held in place by connective tissue. In the water, these organs are supported, but if the shark is lifted by the tail, the tissue may tear (i.e. bending the shark in almost a “C” shape). There is also the danger of damaging tendons which hold the vertebrae in place. These problems are less likely to damage small sharks, but the best rule is to always try to pull sharks back into the water in as much of a horizontal position as possible.

If the shark looks weak please try to revive it by pushing it forward in the water (do not make the shark go back and forth) Try doing this at a water depth that is comfortable for you, giving yourself room to quickly react in case the shark turns.

 Now, after such a great fight you can watch it swim away and celebrate life and balance.

Carefully pulling a small shark back in the water

Herbert Hans Muller Releasing a shark in 2009

Reviving the shark, pushing it horizontally

  Herbert Hans Muller Reviving a shark in 2009


© 2013


4 thoughts on “Landing and Releasing a Shark From Shore

  1. Hi Cudaman,

    I was wondering if I had a shot at catching a large hammerhead fishing the beaches on Key West. I know they might not be as good as if I were fishing Boca Grande or somewhere close, but do you know if there are big hammerheads off the beaches of Key West?
    Take care

    • Please just remember that Hammerhead Sharks are catch and release only and you are not allowed to land one. Having said that if it’s for some sort of a tagging program you can catch them from any bridge in the keys but you will get more bull sharks, nurse sharks, and lemon sharks on the lines. From the shore using a kayak to drop baits Bahia Honda is the place.

      • Thanks for the reply. So if I went to Bahia Honda, would I stand a shot at getting a large fish from the beach before it made it to the bridges? I’d be worried of it swimming through a bridge and just cutting me off.
        I’d love to fish the keys for large hammerhead, lemon, and bull sharks, from the beach (not a bridge or boat).
        Is Bahia Honda the end-all place in the Keys to do that?

      • You’re welcome. It’s not the end all, but easiest on an outgoing tide. Bull sharks would take you into the bridge others would normally swim with the current. You have to realize that most of the Keys are shallow from the shore, you would have to fish close to the bridges in order to get some of the deeper water. Vaca cut has big bulls and you can actually go quite far from the bridge but there is lots of boat traffic.

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