Shark Fishing Fort Lauderdale
Shark! Jaws! They are mystical creatures that have evolved over millions of years into one of the greatest predator animals in the world. They have no fears, only curiosity. Sharks are perhaps nature’s perfect predator. They have no enemies in the ocean except perhaps, the crew of the Big Game fishing boat in Ft. Lauderdale Florida.
Sharks are one of the most sought after game fish in the ocean and Ft. Lauderdale has some of the best shark fishery anywhere on the eastern seaboard of the United States. Millions of sharks migrate through our gulfstream waters every year in search of food, to mate and just following their natural migration patterns as instinct. We catch a large variety of sharks, and most sharks are caught between ½ mile and 2 miles offshore of our coast. The fast drop off in Ft. Lauderdale, the huge natural reef, the multitude of small bait fish, and proximity to the gulfstream and warm waters make our area a hotspot for shark activity.
Now this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go swimming in the ocean or that you have to worry about getting attacked by a shark when swimming off the beach. Sharks very rarely attack humans and it’s almost always a case of mistaken identity when it does happen. In fact as soon as shark realizes that it has bit into something it shouldn’t have, it usually lets go. If you’ve ever been swimming in the ocean in Florida, you’ve probably been swimming in close proximity to a shark and didn’t even realize it. Sharks don’t eat people. We are not part of their natural diet and as my dad was always fond of saying, “sharks don’t get as big as they get trying to eat things the same size as they are.” It’s true, if sharks regularly attacked fish and critters the same size as themselves, they would soon meet up with the wrong species and get eaten themselves.
We get a lot of game fishermen here in Ft. Lauderdale looking to hook into and catch a big shark. It’s the biggest species that you can catch out here and one of the strongest and hardest fighting fish you can possibly catch. At Fishing Headquarters, we specialize in catching big game sharks. In fact, we run a lot of special shark fishing trips. Our best time of year for sharks is February-August although you can catch sharks throughout the year here in Ft Lauderdale.
Hammerhead sharks usually migrate early in the season. Hammerheads are the most easily recognizable sharks in the ocean and are classified as a game shark. Hammerheads are identified by their odd shaped head, like a ‘hammer’, and eyes on the lateral edges of its head. They tend to migrate through Fort Lauderdale from February through May and can reach sizes of 300 pounds or more. Male hammerheads are usually around 6 feet long and very aggressive. Female hammerheads get even larger and can reach 10 feet or longer in size. Most of the hammerhead sharks we catch are ‘scalloped hammerheads’ with a ridged head. They are beautiful with golden colored skin which is why we locals call them ‘golden hammerheads’. These are a great game fish and an awesome shark species.
Thresher sharks are monsters of the deep. They are caught down in the depths where there is little to no light. They have evolutionary adaptations that make them perfect for that environment. Their eyes are huge, the size of a soft ball, with their pupil encompassing the entire socket. They also have an extraordinarily long tail which they use to feed. A thresher shark will charge through a school of fish and whack at the school with their powerful tails. Fish that are struck are killed instantly by the trauma or are stunned for long enough for the thresher to circle back and collect his prey. Interestingly enough a lot of the threshers we catch are h ooked in the tail, which makes them twice as hard to fight to the boat. There is no way to specifically target fishing for a thresher shark. We just go out to our shark fishing grounds and put the baits out and every now and again a giant thresher shark takes the bait. It is always a surprise when we catch one of these prehistoric looking Jurassic sea monsters. Threshers are a protected species so they are not allowed to be brought back to the dock any more.
Mako sharks are the fastest shark in the ocean. They are quite rare in Ft. Lauderdale waters, but they have been known to show from time to time. Mako sharks are iridescent purple in color and have the gnarliest set of teeth of any shark. Not the largest set of teeth, but thin, narrow and long teeth that protrude in all different directions. Makos definitely have the Freddy Kruger set of shark teeth. Makos are also one of the very few sharks that jump out of the water and have been seen jumping 20 feet in the air with spectacular speeds.
Bull sharks are a man eater. These sharks are aggressive and have been known to attack humans. They are a round nose shark, with a blunt, squared off head. Of all the sharks, these sharks probably have one of the largest jaws in comparison to the size of their heads. Their teeth are triangular shaped and quite large. Bull sharks are known for wandering into fresh water rivers and lakes and have been spotted 400 miles up into the Mississippi river. Bull sharks prefer murky waters which makes it easy for them to not know what they are eating when they take a bite (hence they are known as a man eater). In Fort Lauderdale, we catch them around shipwrecks and occasionally they will eat one of the fish we are fighting up from the bottom while bottom fishing. These are a very large and brutal shark.
Silky, black tip and spinner sharks are gulfstream and reef sharks that we catch out of Ft. Lauderdale. These 3 different types of sharks don’t get to be as big as hammerheads and other big game sharks, but they are equally as sought after for the sport. These sharks are lightning fast, superiorly cunning and great fighters. Spinner sharks have a lightning bolt color pattern on their sides and are one of the very few sharks that jump out of the water. These are great fighting sharks that get loose a lot from jumping and spinning in the air, breaking the line. If you land one of these sharks, you’re either a very good angler or a very lucky fisherman. Black tips and silky sharks are often misidentified and are gulfstream and reef sharks. They eat live bait and dead bait alike and are a great fight on light tackle. Typically 2-4 feet in length, these sharks don’t grow to the sizes of some of the bigger game sharks but are awesome fighters on light tackle.
Sharks are largely not edible due to the fact that they urinate through their skins giving the meat an ammonia-like flavor. Most people do not care for the taste of sharks. As my dad was always fond of saying, “sharks eat you, not vice versa” (not true, but funny). A lot of people who get lucky and catch a big shark like to get it mounted for a trophy. Modern taxidermy does not require you to kill the fish, so a simple measurement is all that is required to get a big shark mounted. The taxidermist will incorporate real teeth and jaws in the mount if you request it, so if you want to use the real jaw set, we can bring the shark back to the dock for your trophy, although not necessary.
Congratulations to all those fishermen who have caught sharks with us. They are my personal favorite fish to catch out here in Ft. Lauderdale and are a feat to get to the boat. The hard work of the fight is worth it though and unless you fish out here a lot, it is usually a once in a lifetime experience. Good luck if a big game shark is what you’re after! You’ve got your work cut out for you.
Book a Shark Fishing Charter with Fishing Headquarters: