Up for a challenge? Try shark fishing in Cabo

Cabo San Lucas is home to a fascinating variety of marine life; from tiny creatures to giant swimmers. A diverse mixture of prey and predators like sharks roam and call these rich waters home. In Cabo, tables are turned as the apex predator of the ocean becomes man’s prey. If you want to experience the thrill, you can hire a fishing charter to fish for sharks.

January to April is the best time to target them in Cabo while May and December also deliver good catch rates. The reeling action is fair in June and November but slows down from July to October. Take note that the Fishing Daily Limit in Mexico for shark is only one. As for “catch and release”, the Mexican Law states that there is no limit to this practice as “long as the fish that exceed the bag limit be returned to their environment in good survival condition.”

Sharks in Cabo waters

Below are just some of the species you can catch along the Gulf of Mexico.

Mako shark

source: http://www.sciencemag.org/

The mako, a.k.a. “blue pointer” and “bonito shark,” is one of the species that you may hook during your angling trip.  There are two kinds of mako, the longfin and the shortfin. The longfin is larger than its counterpart; with some fully grown adults weighing around 170 kg while a shortfin is only half this size and weight. The mako is easily identified by its metallic cobalt blue skin with white belly or underside and protruding teeth similar to that of the Great White. When it comes to food preference, it likes to feed on billfish, pelagic fish and other sharks.

Noted for its incredible speed in the water, it has been referred to as “the peregrine falcon of the sharks” with reference to the fastest bird on earth. Makos are sprinters and can reach speeds of up to 32 kph and travel up to 55 km in a day. The mako is even capable of acrobatic feats reaching up to 20 meters out of the water.

Deep sea fishing tackle within the 30 to 80-pound line class work well with the mako. The rule of thumb is, the bigger the fish, the heavier the tackle. You can use 11/0 or 8/0 hooks and 10-12 feet of steel leader on a heavy tackle.

Chumming is a good way to attract these ocean predators and you can coordinate with your charter’s crew to prepare this for your fishing trip. Throw the chum off of the back of the boat and place your bait, preferably mackerel or tuna within the slick, around 30-50 feet beneath the surface. If the mako strikes, use a steady strong pull on the rod as you reel to help set the hook. The boat should be kept at a comfortable distance while fighting the creature because these nimble swimmers have been known to jump into the fishing vessel. Only when it is completely played enough to cut the hook, should you bring the creature alongside the vessel.

If you’re wondering if the meat of the mako is edible, yes it is and the taste and texture resemble that of a swordfish. If you plan to catch-and-release, it’s best if you don’t bring the mako into the boat to avoid injuring the creature. You can take a photo while it’s in the water and release it as soon as possible to prevent adding more stress to the animal.

Bull shark

source: National Geographic

The bull shark, fondly called “bully” is another species that inhabit these tropical shores. Mature bullies have grayish to light brown color on top and white below while young ones have fins with dark tips. A fully grown adult has an average size of 7 to 11.5 ft and weighs anywhere from 200 to 500 lb.

Due to their high levels of testosterone, bull sharks are aggressive in nature and are considered as one of the dangerous sharks in the world.  These fast and agile predators like to eat fish, dolphins, and even fellow sharks. It is known as a strong fighter and it will give an angler a heck of a battle.

This species is matched to medium lever drag stand up outfits and large line capacity and high-quality drag systems. Bullies are not picky eaters and would take a variety of dead fish as bait such as mullet, mackerel, tuna, and especially barracuda. Fish bait can be chummed to lure them out and set the mood for hitting artificial baits such as large flies and topwater plugs. It’s best if all rigs are made of wire to avoid bite offs especially if the fight is extended.

When landing a bully, do not grab it by the tail because it leaves the head swinging free and its sharp teeth ready to snap. The last thing you want to happen is to end up with a big chomp on your body.  

If you intend to practice catch-and-release, do not bring the catch into the boat as it can thrash around and injure you. Instead, you can bring it near the side of the vessel and remove the hook from its mouth using long-nosed pliers. You can take a quick snapshot then release it as quickly as possible to avoid further stress on the animal.

Lemon shark

The lemon, known for its thin and elongated body with small fins, is most frequent in the Gulf of Mexico. It is named after its bright yellow-brown body coloring similar to that of a lemon. Also known as the Negaprion Brevirostris and fondly nicknamed after its namesake citrus, this species has an average size of about 11 ft and weigh around 420 lb. This night-feeder has a penchant for catfish, salmon, crustaceans, and some mollusks. It usually stays in moderately shallow areas near coasts and islands, not deeper than 80 meters which is why humans often encounter them. Unlike other species, lemons are generally not aggressive towards people.

Although lemons are not rugged fighters like other species, it is still recommended to use a medium to heavy tackle to minimize fight time and land the lemon quickly. Take note that a short-lived battle can help reduce the creature’s exhaustion. For catch-and-release, use non-offset, non-stainless, single barbless steel circle hooks when fishing with natural bait to prevent gut-damaging injuries to the predator. If your hooks are not barbless, flatten the barb with pliers and use a de-hooking tool to remove them safely.

As with other species, it is not recommended to bring the catch onboard because removing it from the water can increase the likelihood of injuries. Keep the lemon, especially the gills, in the water until you’re ready to let it go.  

When releasing the lemon, make sure that it’s in good condition before returning it to the water gently, head first. If it’s not strong enough, you might have to continue holding the creature with the help of the charter crew until it swims away strongly.

If you want to chase these apex predators on your next fishing trip to Cabo, make sure you choose a charter with an experienced captain and crew to teach you the best techniques to catch, land and release shark. If you want a replica of your catch, you can coordinate with your charter to take measurements of your catch before releasing the creature.

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