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Re: 1st Sand Tigers '04

Late Report: Martha's Vineyard 10/8-11

I've been away from a computer for a spell, fishing The 2004 Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby (which officially ended Sat. night 10/16), looking for a repeat Derby winning Bluefish. I fished hard, caught and released alot of fish as well as weighed in many nice Blues, winning several awards including a Hat-Trick for shore Bluefish (one of only six awarded throughout the Derby).

A few weeks ago one late afternoon 'til dusk, I was into big Dogfish for hours, they were'nt acting like their sluggish obnoxious selves, instead they were aggressive and acting more like big Bluefish. I lost count of how many I had caught, it was a real workout, hauling them in one after another before they could reck havoc with my other lines out, including twisting up themselves on my running lines and leader, fortunately most were mouth hooked and once beached easy to remove the hook and get them back in the water.

Around 6:30 I had a bump on my 1st rod, I slowly cranked the bait 3 or 4 turns to see if the fish would come back, hoping it was'nt another Doggie, it grabbed the bait again and I set the hook, while hauling him in he tugged and ran 3 times impressively but never surfaced or broke water, I started dragging him onto the beach face (unfortunately it was at a 45 degree angle due to the waves), he lay partially on the sand and as soon as the foam washed over it's head, I saw it was a huge Bluefish, my Buddy Ralph came over and at that instant my hook, leader and 8oz. pyramid came flying out of it's mouth, neither of us could get down quick enough to jump on the fish before the waves took him out. There's no telling exactly how much he would have weighed but I would bet he was in the high teens and every bit of 36"s. I believe that was my ONE shot this year.

One morning Columbus Day Weekend around 11:30a.m. I had two rods out with chunk Mackeral, my first rod (my 10' St. Croix with a Penn 7500) went off, I grabbed the rod, the hook was set and the fish made a series of impressive runs.* I knew it probably was'nt a Dogfish as they had seemed to have moved out a few days earlier and too big to be a Blue and I had'nt heard of any Brown Sharks (Sandbars) being caught of late, hence I thought it was a big Striper.* I stayed on the fish and it ran parrallel to the beach taking me 200yds. east up the beach.* After about 30 minutes I finally saw the fish and it was'nt a Striper!* It looked like a Lemon Shark!* Once I saw it was a Shark I started to worry as I was rigged up for Blues and struggled to keep the running line away from it's body as I only had a small diameter 30# mono connected to 16"s of wire.*

I finally dropped the rod, and worked my way down the line turning the fish and lunged in and grabbed the tail, dragging the fish onto the beach, at which point I saw it's mouth full of snaggled teeth and knew it was a Sand Tiger!

I looked around and all the morning guys fishing for Albies had left, I ran back to my truck to get my camera, and then started running back to the Shark, the fish had squirmed it's way back into the Surf dragging my rod along with it.* Fortunately she was'nt fully submerged and I dragged her back up away from the water.* I flagged a truck down driving up the beach, and asked one of the passengers to snap some pix, (I was happy to see these guys as I would'nt of been able to get in the Pic with the critter had they not shown up)!

I quickly removed the hook measured her (just over 5' 10"s) and dragged her back in the water, wading in with her until she managed to kick off in great shape!

A few days later, Sun. evening 10/10, I caught another, this one was also a female and just a Pup, 34-36"s. I contacted Greg Skomal, State Marine Biologist, with some pix and data that I had collected and he was surprized at their presense this year as he had been informed of another Pup being caught a few weeks earlier, unfortunately the person kept that one, not knowing Sand Tigers are protected in New England waters and it's illegal to do so.

Here's a pic.

Me and 'Lil Miss Snaggler.

Tight Lines!

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