Shark Season!

Article and photo by Miles Altman, Bayrunner Fishing Charters

This month, reel in one of these tackle-busting brutes.

June’s warmer waters have populated quickly with a diverse and bountiful population of sharks. These tackle-busting brutes offer great sport — and plenty of it.

Long known as a primary breeding ground for many species, the local waters near Hilton Head Island host many types of sharks, including hammerheads, tigers, blacktip, spinners, sharp nose and bonnet-heads, just to name a few. In the last few years, even great whites have been captured here.

As with many fish, the decline of stocks, coupled with an exploding population of fishermen, has brought about numerous regulations, making it necessary to release most species, except for two in particular: the sharpnose and the bonnethead. Anglers may keep one of any size of these two shark species. Both are considered good eating, especially the bonnethead, whose diet consists primarily of shrimp and crab. Both shark species can be caught in local sounds and creeks with a variety of cut or live bait.

Other popular targets for shark seekers are the blacktip and spinner sharks. Nicknamed “poor man’s tarpon” for their aerial antics — which can be spectacular — these sharks require a 54-inch minimum length to keep. Both the blacktip and the spinner shark are excellent table fare. The bigger versions of these species are often found behind working shrimp boats, as they love to scavenge tidbits and, much to the chagrin of shrimpers, frequently bite holes in the nets to help themselves to a feast!

Offshore, many anglers target the big tiger sharks, which average 8 to 10 feet and weigh up to a thousand pounds. Heavy tackle is required, along with stamina. These battles can go on for hours. Tiger sharks are tough customers, to say the least.

The opportunity for hours of angling enjoyment with a wide variety of sharks is available here all summer long. And for those who may raise an eyebrow about safety, just remember that you are far better off swimming in the ocean than driving along Hwy. 278!

Capt. Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters has more than 42 years experience fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. The Finatic boat, which can accommodate up to 12 passengers, features a special three-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour trip. Contact Miles at (843) 290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.