Howdy ya'lls, well, I finally bought a boat this year (24ft Pacific Skiff with the cabin) and will be working in Cordova this summer two weeks on, two weeks off and am pretty pumped about doing some salmon shark fishing and for those of you that do it, let me just see if I'm ready for this.
First a little background, I'm originally from Southern California (don't hold that against me) with many years of working on the party boats with several years of long range fishing out of San Diego taking part in fishing those cow yellowfin. I have caught a fair amount of mako sharks in SoCal waters too, mostly released except for 2 in 9 years.
As for gear, I have two Penn International 50's and a 70 (big two speeds) loaded with 130# spectra and several rods Calstar and Seeker that are 5-6 and 6-00 with good backbone. I also have a harness to strap the rod to the angler so that all the work is not done with just the arms rather the whole body is used. I think since the gunnels are a little low on the boat, that I should maybe secure harness to the boat in case the angler gets pulled into the water and I can easily retrieve him/her without the person being dragged around to the bottom attached to the shark. (Hopefully if this does happen that the person will think enough to back off on the drag, but not so much to it will backlash and create a giant knot where the line will most likely snap...I hope.) Other gear on the boat will be (600# to 800# wire with crimps for making new leaders, 10/0 to 12/0 hooks, bait-o-matics (16oz weighted head with a marlin skirt rigged with the wire and hooks with a pink salmon hooked twice, vertically through the bottom jaw and through the nose, and one up through the back end) two down riggers (if I don't use the bait-o-matics), a flying gaff with a 6inch gap, .410 halibut sleeper, bolt cutters (for the releases) and good gloves for angler and myself, and some rope for securing the fish to the outside boat if whoever is with me decides to stock up the freezer. (I intend to release all mine, but don't having anything against harvesting one 'once in a while')
As for technique, I imagine the bait-o-matics would work good rigged with the heavy wire (they come rigged with 250# wire and 7/0 siwash hooks) and bigger hooks for the bigger baits. Then I would just troll around eastern Prince William Sound at about 6 - 8 knots looking for finners and jumpers. The reels will probably have about 30 pounds of drag (commonly used for long range big tuna) for at least the hookset and will adjust it to whoever is fighting the fish can handle. Or maybe I should use the two downriggers and no bait-o-matic and just have a rigged pink, which would slow me down a lot more where I wouldn't cover as much water? (I don't know exactly where to go just yet, but I have a pretty good idea on where to start.)
For finishing touches after the catch, If the shark is to be harvested I would use the flying gaff to stick the fish in the foward quarter of the body and bring him up again and then shoot, once dead, tie off the flying gaff rope to the cleat forward of the house as tight as I could with keeping the head just at the waters edge and then gaff the tail and have a line ready to loop around and make fast to the aft cleat stretching the shark out then sever the spine and bleed out. I would not want a big shark in the boat even dead (I have seen and tested it out on other sharks that even while decapitated there is a trigger response that if there mouth is open it will clamp on whatever with crushing strength and knarly teeth.) Now with the release and not wanting to get my hands near the mouth, I get the bolt cutters (with the 3ft handles and try to cut the hook or at least the wire as close as possible to the critter. After a fight like what I hear and my respect for those animals, they can have a $3 hook.) The bait-o-matic, if you're wondering if that would fall in the water, it may, but it is free to slide up and down the wire leader and may need some finessing with a gaff to grab it before the shark is cut free. Hopefully the shark is on the second hook back, then I still have the first hook and crimps to hold the lure on.
All sharks I've met like to twist themselves on the line, that is if they are given the chance to, as long as the line is leading forward of the shark (angler should know or at least I will know) the angle of the the line and be ready to move to keep the shark's body from getting wrapped up in the line. With luck and a planned release, the shark will be tangle free. If the shark resembles a yo-yo with the amount of thread wrapped around it, it will most likely be harvested.
Soooooo, my plan sound alright to you guys? Any qualms or how I might improve this game plan? Anything to add to gear or something to look out for that I haven't covered? I've heard that they are caught mostly incidently while halibut fishing. Some suggest drifting or just go halibut fishing and I might get lucky. That's like saying, "Go dolly fishing and you might get lucky and catch a salmon." As a late disclaimer, I am not doing any kind of charter operation, it is just me and friends and I think this will break up the monotony of fishing salmon and halibut and rockfish. Even though I will be working in Cordova, I will be fishing the Homer area too, there must be some sharks that aren't as known in Lower Cook Inlet but in good numbers like the Prince William Sound sharks.
Thanks for any advice in advance.