How About Shocks, Mate?


by Scott Sadil

I have a pet theory about big spring tides, associated with full or new moons, stirring up winds and dirty skies, the bane of inshore fly fishers everywhere you find them.

Which is often when anglers of all stripes, but maybe more so our friends from Down Under, where sharks, along with crocodiles, abound, find themselves turning to new and often refreshing challenges, including the extreme and somewhat twisted sport of shark fishing.

Bob Seddon
Bob Seddon

The way Peter Jeansson does it, as part of his managerial duties, I suppose, running the small sportfishing lodge on Albany Island, just off the eastern shores of Cape York, may be unique.  He takes a fish skeleton—or fish “frame” as the Aussies call them—and knots it to one end of a short length of three-strand 5/16-inch line; the bitter end is left tied to a cleat at the end of the wooden dock built atop a jetty-like spur of rocks and reef and concrete, the lodge’s fishing pier should one be so inclined to tempt the inshore shallows.

Come dusk, Peter swings his line a short distance off the end of the dock.  The fish frame plops into the water, now lit up by the dock light.  Immediately the water stirs. Fish on?  Indeed, as Peter tugs on the line, the surface explodes into a frothy turmoil of fins, flesh and, by all reckonings, bared fangs tangled with the bloody fish frame thrashing in the glowing light.

Some sharks rise halfway out of the water before they finally let go of the frame.  Peter swings the line back into the water.  He’s a big man; “a hundred and thirty kilos,” I’ve heard him claim.  I imagine it’s a little like roping a young steer:  There’s a sudden, brief wrestling match between man and beast.  Only in this case the line finally goes slack, the water grows still once more.        

But is this really sport?