Lurking in the waters around St. Simons are throngs of sharks of various varieties. There are big sharks, middle size sharks and little sharks. Since retiring on St. Simons, sharks have become our constant companions.
When we walk along the beach close to the surf, there is a good chance that a shark will appear in the shallow water nearby and swim along in close proximity to us causing us to remove to a respectable distance from the breakers.
One time, B. J. and I were wading in the waves when all of a sudden there emerged a three-foot shark in the water not more than five feet from us. We both turned on Mustang overdrive getting quickly to high ground.
The St. Simons Pier is a favorite place for shark fishers. The shark fishers come with their heavy-duty expensive fishing tackle, rig up and bait up with strong lines and huge baits that are suited for shark. They use body harnesses to secure their hefty poles when they tussle with big ones.
The shark fishers secure a balloon to their lines and cast the baits into the water around the pier. The current carries the line, floated by the balloon, as far out as the fisher wants it to go, then he gives the line a swift jerk, pops the balloon off and lets the bait sink to the bottom, then he waits for that certain strong yank that signifies that a shark is on the line. Then the struggle is on; it may last a few minutes or a half-day depending on the size and stubbornness of the shark.
Crowds usually gather on the pier to watch the show. B. J. and I watched one night while a shark fisher grappled with a big shark for over two hours before finally getting him to the pier. Although, no weigh scales were available to verify the weight, the shark fishers estimated that he probably would go 350 pounds.
Stories of much larger sharks being caught off the pier abound. The most recent big catch was reported to be an 8-foot Hammerhead--a reputed man-eater. B. J. and I did not see this one.
On one occasion when our niece Susan and two of her sons came to visit us on the island, we chartered a fishing boat and headed out to catch a fine mess of spots and whiting. As it turned out, we spent the day, reeling in sharks ranging from 2 pounds to 50 pounds. My prize catch was a four-foot bonnet. To break from the monotony of sharks, B. J. boated a stingray. Somebody caught one whiting and we used it for bait. The 50-pound shark was pulled up by one of Susan‘s sons, photographed and set free.
B. J. and I have been strolling the strand on St. Simons since 1960. We love to ramble out at low tide and collect seashells and sand dollars.
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