How About Shocks, Mate?


Bob Seddon, from Coeur d’Alene, doesn’t think so.  At 80, plus or minus a year or two, with a pair of metal knees to balance upon, he’s devised his own shark fishing protocol, one he’s practiced at fishing destinations around the world.  A dedicated fly angler, Bob’s the first to admit he’s not exactly following the rules.  Most everywhere he travels he carries a stiff fifteen-weight fly rod and a fly reel, the size of a brake drum, loaded with gel-spun braid with a breaking strength to stop a torpedo.  Besides the absence of an actual fly line in his rig, he also uses bait, a portion of a fresh fish frame, or at least an entire head, laced onto a hook that I could substitute for a back-up anchor for any of the small sailboats I’ve built over the years. 

Like Peter, off the end of the dock on Albany Island Bob doesn’t have to wait long before a shark finds his short, underhand cast.  But unlike our host, Bob is now committed to a longer, more troublesome fight.  The stiff rod bends.  The big reel groans.  Taut line melts dangerously from the spool.

Bob grins like a man in his happy place—a grievously impotent phrase I once swore I’d never use.  But there you have it.  I’ll add, as well, Bob also looks a wee bit possessed.

The Peanut Gallery

Fortunately for all involved, the fight ends soon enough. While Bob scuttles toward the far end of the dock, Gil Greenberg, from the peanut gallery, manages both rod and shark, making his way over the rocks and down to the adjacent beach.  Bob meets him there.  Then the shark is writhing in the shallows, still looking dangerous enough to remove a limb, or at least a couple of errant fingers, while photos are snapped, high-fives shared, and everyone pitches in with suggestions, if not acts of bravado, on how to free the over-sized hook from the shark’s fearsome maw.

Back up on the dock, Michael Ackerman, a Honduran now living in Toronto, takes rod in hand and swings another chunk of fish into the shallows.  When he hooks up, and the shark begins running, Gil hands a shot of tequila Mikey’s way.

Not exactly sport, maybe.  But in tough conditions, anglers are known to expand all notions of fun. 

Gray’s angling editor still recalls catching a shovelnose shark, with bait, off a Baja beach at the age of five or six, the only part of a story he’s long forgotten.