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Shark anglers beginning their watch

Published in the Asbury Park Press 06/10/05

Shark fishermen are expected to fan out this weekend in search of the first blue sharks of the season.

Dave Arbeitman, co-owner of The Reel Seat, Brielle, said interest has been lagging thus far, and as of Wednesday he had not heard of a blue shark caught.

"Actually no one has tried that I know of, but that will change this weekend," he said. "It's about that time."

Arbeitman was in Cape May Tuesday night for a drum-fishing trip on the Adam Bomb with John Vafiadis, Berkeley, and Allan Sherman, Toms River.

"They were getting set up for the South Jersey Shark Tournament, which opens Thursday," he said. "The tent was up, and people were getting ready to go."

Arbeitman, Vafiadis and Sherman fished the Delaware Bay flats for the drum, and caught four that weighed 50, 65, 70 and 77 pounds. All were taken on clams.

"They should catch blue sharks this weekend," Arbeitman said. "I would think the Glory Hole, Chicken Canyon, Triple Wrecks ? maybe the Unexploded Bombs or the Resor ? would have blue sharks."

Interest in shark fishing has tapered off somewhat from 20 years ago because of regulations, changing emphasis and fewer sharks of some species.

"The main interest really is in the tournaments," Arbeitman said. "We don't sell a lot of shark fishing tackle until the tournaments start."

The three big local shark tournaments are: Greater Point Pleasant Charter Boat Association's 20th annual Mako Mania Shark Tournament; the Jersey Coast Shark Anglers 27th Annual Mako Fever Catch It Tournament, and the 22nd Annual Leonardo Party and Pleasure Boatman's Association Shark Tournament.

The Mako Mania event will be held June 24-26 out of Clark's Landing Marina, Point Pleasant, and Mako Fever Catch It will be held June 24-26 out of Crystal Point Yacht Club, Point Pleasant. The Leonardo tournament will be held June 25 out of the state marina in Leonardo.

Blue sharks are one of the most abundant game sharks, and they are relatively easy to catch.

The blue can be distinguished from other sharks in the area by its blue color, long, pointed snout and sickle-shaped pectoral fins.

It is a slender-bodied fish being heaviest about midway back or directly under the first dorsal fin. The second dorsal fin is about half as high as the first and is about equal in size to the anal fin which is located directly under it. The pectorals, if bent back, would reach almost to the rear corner of the first dorsal fin.

The tail fin is sickle-shaped with the lower lobe only about half the size of the upper. The upper is notched near the tip and both lobes almost come to a point. This is the fin that gives the blue away when it lolls near the surface.

The teeth of the blue are saw-edged and the uppers are located so close to each other that they actually overlap at the base. Most of the uppers are curved, but the lower are almost erect and concave near the base.

While the fish is blue, when it comes out of the water it quickly becomes gray and some of those brought into marina docks are occasionally mistaken for the dusky or sickle shark. The belly of the blue shark is white.

The largest blue sharks usually seen in the Mid-Atlantic Bight are 7 or 8 feet long. While not listed as really dangerous to man, a big blue has the size, teeth and power to injure a human and should not be regarded lightly in that respect.

Shark fishermen usually rig slightly lighter for blues than for some of the other species, as they are not the fierce fighter that the mako or some of the bulkier sharks are. A medium weight outfit is best. Choose an 8-foot shark rod, a 4/0 to 6/0 reel and 40 or 50-pound test line. Hooks can be on the smaller side of the shark hook range, say 8/0 to 9/0, and they should be rigged with 15 to 20 feet of No. 12 single strand wire or cable. Blue sharks have a disagreeable habit of rolling up in the leader, particularly near the boat when about to be gaffed, and a long leader protects against possible break-offs.

Blue sharks will sometimes feed on anything and everything in sight and other times frustratingly refuse every bait in the water.

Shark fishermen typically bait with whole or filleted bluefish, bunker, squid, herring or mackerel.

Blue sharks are not as good eating as the mako or thresher, but they are edible, and the steaks can be broiled or pan-fried. The meat does have a tendency to spoil more rapidly than the mako.

Ideally, the shark should be dressed at sea, as soon as possible after it is caught and killed. Gut it, remove the head, tail and fins, and cut it into chunks that will fit into the cooler. Eat the meat within a day or two of the landing, as it does not keep well.

Note: There is a new IGFA world record blue shark that weighed 528 lbs caught at Montauk, New York on August 9, 2001 by angler Joe Seidel. That fish will surpass this fish for the all tackle world record.

This 454 lb. blue on the right, was caught at Martha's Vineyard Mass. on July 19, 1996. It was taken during a shark tournament, by my good friend Capt. Steve James, and angler Pete Bergin; on the ?Quality Time,? out of Scituate Mass. The head mount of that blue shark may be seen upstairs at the Mill Wharf Restaurant in Scituate, Mass.

Two IGFA women's line class blue shark records set in Mass. Bay, and still surviving from the 1960s are; Martha Webster's 410 lb. blue , and Cassandra Webster's 334 lb. blue.

When blue sharks get around 400 pounds their heads get bigger and wider and their snouts will appear shorter.

Capt. Steve James and the former IGFA all tackle record 454 lb. blue shark. (This shark is the Massachusetts record blue shark.)

Notice the 1 st. dorsal fin is located well behind the long pectoral fins.

[ 06-10-2005, 11:01 AM: Message edited by: NIGHTSTRIKES ]
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