Back in the mid 1990â€™s I made a video (remember those?) with my friend Jon Perette. The topic was catching blue sharks on a fly. For the better part of a month we made a number of long runs from the South Shore of Massachusetts to Stellwagon Bank to gather the footage. Fishing for blue sharks was a tremendous amount of fun, but as time went on I pursued other species of fish. My memories were recently awakened by my fishing fanatic and writer friend, Angelo Peluso. Heâ€™s been putting the hammer on blue sharks big time.
Angelo is based on Long Island, New York which, simply put, means that heâ€™s surrounded by great fishing. In between early season striped bass, mid-season bluefish, and late season bonito and False albacore, Angelo heads offshore to tangle with some monsters. This yearâ€™s incredibly warm water temperatures has brought a number of pelagic species in earlier than ever, and heâ€™s been offshoreâ€¦.waiting.
Fishing with heavy standup gear is customary for hard-fighting fish, but Angelo is using an 8 Â˝ foot 13-15 weight fly rod. After identifying an appropriate thermocline heâ€™ll set a chum slick of ground fish soaked in menhaden oil. After the slick spreads out heâ€™ll start looking for blue sharks coming up for a meal. Sometimes Angelo might wait for an hour while other times he doesnâ€™t wait long at all.
The sharks heâ€™s been catching have been anywhere from 75-150 pounds, which is not necessarily big for an offshore species but tremendous on a fly rod. Once hooked the blue sharks can strip off half a reelâ€™s worth of line and backing and the fight is on! After a half hour fight the sharks are close to the boat, but itâ€™s not over. Theyâ€™ll make another long run and the fight heads to round two and sometimes to rounds three and four.
â€śGetting a good hook set is critical to landing these fish,â€ť Peluso noted. â€śWith their tough mouths and rough skin youâ€™ll really have to drive the hook home with a combination of a series of strip strikes and tip strikes. Weâ€™re using heavy mono tippets to stay connected with the sharks. And after catching a few of them you wonâ€™t need to work out in the gym. Weâ€™ve been fishing with Captain Rick Gulia of Perfect Catch Fishing and all sharks are released. I encourage any inshore fly rodder to give shark fishing a try.â€ť
Angelo is using a wide variety of fly patterns, some of which are attractors while others are imitators. â€śOnce the sharks key in on the fly they donâ€™t turn off. The scent coming from the chum lights them up. The offshore water is typically very clear, and I always try to set the hook in the corner of their mouth. The casting motion with a 14-weight isnâ€™t as elegant as it is with a five weight, but the stout rods are necessary to land these incredibly strong sharks.â€ť
For more information on fly patterns check out Angeloâ€™s outstanding book, Saltwater Flies of the Northeast at http://www.angelopeluso.com/.