Close Encounters with Florida’s Apex Predators … Sharks and Gators

Two of Florida’s apex predators are also a constant in the waters, canals and backcountry fishing haunts throughout the state. Swimmers beware.

Shark fishing

I don’t often go shark fishing, but when I do it’s always exciting.

By far my favorite shark is the black tip, hard fighting, aggressive, spectacular head shakes and aerobatics. They can peel off a 100 yards of line before you can turn them. Catch them using chum and either cut or live bait, usually jacks. typical fight on medium – heavy tackle lasts anywhere from 5-15 minutes.

Least favorite shark is the nurse shark. an almost toothless bottom feeding shark that fights like a 100 pound sack of potatoes.

Hardest fighting and meanest is the Bull Shark. Like the black tip, catch them with chum and a chunk of cut bait. they can peel off almost a reel’s worth of line and will fight you to exhaustion for 30 or more minutes.

Fishing with gators

Gators are everywhere in the Everglades backcountry, local canals for peacock bass and any lake or pond for large mouth. Basically if you ignore them, they may ignore you. But you gotta keep your head on a swivel, especially fishing from the shore!

Never feed a gator, as you don’t want them associating humans as a food source. Also, if one is hooked (usually grabs your catch) try to get them to release it or cut the line. If you fight them to the boat, well, watch out!

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