Massachusetts Cape Cod shark fishing mako bull tiger great blue white sharks migrating offshore

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More than a dozen species of sharks, most of them little known, enter Massachusetts waters during their migrations from May to November. From now until the end of October, it’s shark fishing time. In offshore hot spots like Stellwagen Bank and Wildcat Knoll, big game anglers drift off pieces of bait or troll for the trophy of a lifetime.

The regulation of shark fishing is complex. As sharks are highly migratory, even traveling from coast to coast, NOAA has listed endangered species that are possible (although highly unlikely) to be caught in our waters – and whose harvest is prohibited. , including: silky, sandbank, sand tiger, sand tiger eye big, whale, basking, white, dark, big nose, galapagos, night, Caribbean reef, narrow tooth, pointed nose Caribbean, small tail , angel, long-finned mako, bigeye beater, pointy-sharks with seven gills, blunt nose, six gills and big eyes with six gills. Fortunately, all good shark charter boat captains are familiar with the distinctive identifying characteristics of each species and all the regulations.

The mako shark that followed Captain Matt Blazis' boat and bit half the bar his crew attempted to bring on board.

Recreational anglers are allowed to catch spiny dogfish, Atlantic pointed snout, cap head, fine tooth, black snout, tiger, black tip, spinner, bull, lemon, l nurse, scalloped hammerhead shark, great hammerhead, smooth hammerhead, oceanic white tip, shortfin mako shark, porbeagle, common fox, and blue shark. Each of these species must be at least 54 inches in length to be kept, and only one can be harvested on a trip.

Note that great white sharks are not on the list. Although they are common here now due to a huge population of gray seals, and they frequently come curiously to a chum line, these magnificent, much misunderstood and overly feared predators are actually critically endangered. and necessarily totally protected.

However, there is no minimum size requirement for Atlantic point-nosed, cap-headed, dogfish, black-nosed and fine-toothed sharks. Hammerhead sharks, however, should be at least 78 inches long, while short-finned makos should be at least 71 inches if they are males and 83 inches if they are females.

Male sharks have distinctive and obvious cloacal pincers to hold females during mating. Less lethal circle hooks are needed for bait fishing, and anglers with tuna, billfish or swordfish may not own white tip sharks, hammerhead sharks or porbeagle shark.

What to expect now

Despite so many different sharks, fishermen in Massachusetts can now expect to catch one of four species: mako, blue, porbeagle and fox. Each has its own particular look.

Each of the “big four” can weigh a lot more than us, causing the coils to cry, aching arms and bending hooks. The blue shark is by far the most common. Although very slender, a big blue can tip 400 pounds and stand 10 feet tall. Females, typical of many shark species, grow significantly larger than males. The state record grabbed Jeffreys Ledge in 2011 weighed 485 pounds, 2 ounces.

Gorgeous blue sharks

The distinctive perfect color pattern of blue sharks – dark blue on the back, lighter blue on the sides and white on the belly – makes it one of the most beautiful sharks in the world. If you want to fish for sharks at high volume, charter the blues.

While a typical day on the water averages up to five sharks, up to 20 blue sharks have been brought on deck in a single day. You can’t expect so much action with any of the other three greats.

Feeding mainly on squid and small fish, despite their size, blue sharks do not pose a great danger here, although elsewhere, mainly in tropical waters, they have attacked humans and boats and are classified as a species. dangerous.

Do not bring a cooler on board if you are fishing for blue sharks as their meat is inferior. Although edible elsewhere in the world, their build-up of high concentrations of mercury and lead as they age makes them undesirable from a health standpoint, and their strong flavor has never been popular here.

Threshers provide excitement

Threshers are exciting and potentially dangerous for the fisherman, crew and boat. To their great credit, the drummers are our only shark that can jump entirely out of the water – leaping up to 20 feet in the air – and land in an unforgettable splash. When fishing for threshers, taking a camera and being ready for that jump can provide a photographic trophy that will make any angler’s wall a conversation stopper.

The fox cubs’ long tail, which can be as long as their body, clearly separates them from our other three sharks. They use their huge muscle appendage as a weapon to stun their prey, especially bluefish, small tuna, and mackerel, each of which makes our summer waters extremely appealing to them. Its flapping tails are known to occasionally damage a boat and injure anglers knocked overboard. The state record, weighing 630 pounds, was captured off Martha’s Vineyard in 2011.

Porbeagle sharks fight

Porbeagle sharks, which look a lot like great whites, are also remarkably tough fighters, though they never jump out of the water. Unlike great whites, porbeagle sharks have a defined white patch at the rear base of their dorsal fin. Very aggressive, they will look for prey as big as a tuna.

Some fishermen consider them to be the tastiest of all our sharks, although others will say that makos and beaters taste just as delicious. Our state record, taken off Martha’s Vineyard in 2011, weighed 495 pounds. July and August are the best times to fish them.

Massive and aggressive makos

Makos are admirably nicknamed “the marlin of the shark world”. Although they are not as airy as a fox, they are the most aggressive and by far the most massive of our great sharks. Makos usually puts on a show of jumps with crushing collisions and explosive splashes.

However, encounters with Makos can prove deadly, as they are quite capable of attacking and damaging a boat. It is also one of our fastest big game fish. Their name, derived from the Maori language, means “man eater”.

The Makos are easily differentiated by the beautiful shiny metallic blue on their back and snow white on their belly. Their diet of mackerel, tuna, bonito, swordfish, other sharks, sea turtles, seabirds and even swordfish eagerly brings them to our waters, where their style of diet is quite particular.

From below, the makos rush quickly and powerfully upwards, biting off pieces of their prey. Hunting from below gives them greater invisibility and the element of surprise. Many makos have been found with broken sections of large swordfish swords that they attacked. Mako steaks are delicious, if they are well prepared. They are somewhat reminiscent of swordfish, just as dense, a little more moist and a little less sweet. They currently sell for between $ 13 and $ 20 a pound for fresh.

But like all sharks, they don’t have a bladder. Urine filters through their muscles, leaving osmosis through their skin. If it stays in the muscle for a very long time, the uric acid will turn to ammonia and will taste terrible. Good steaks therefore depend on whether a shark is bled and glazed immediately after capture. Marinating them in milk or a mixture of orange juice, soy sauce and garlic for four to five hours has been a good pre-grill strategy.

The state record, captured in Massachusetts Bay in 1999, weighed a sacred mackerel of 1,324 pounds. Last week, Capt. Matt blazis asked a mako to follow his boat enthusiastically – and savagely bite the bar he and his crew were spinning.

Best Shark Charters

Massachusetts Shark Charters include Mass Bay Guides; Shark, Shark, Tuna Fishing Charters; Labrador Fishing Charters; Tuna Hunter Shark Fishing Charters; Kayman Charters; Big Fish II Sport Fishing Charters; Magellan fishing charters; Karen Lynn Charters; Captain Tom Charters; Sweet Dream Shark Fishing Charters and Elizabeth Marie Sportfishing.

Expect to pay around $ 1,500 for a 10-hour day that allows up to six anglers to participate. Catch-and-release fishing is increasingly becoming the norm for conservation-conscious anglers, but a significant number of anglers still bring coolers on board for steaks.

Crazy about food

More and more people are discovering the joys of harvesting wild foods. With that in mind, John Root will lead a wild edible plant walk at 6:30 p.m. on August 13 at the Foppema Farm at 1605 Hill Street, Northbridge.

Free entry. Perennials for edible landscaping and to attract songbirds, hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other useful wildlife will be available for sale.

Contact Mark Blazis at [email protected]

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