Outdoors column | Certain shark species can be bully to fishermen

A few years ago in the middle of the summer, I was fishing with Capt. Mike McDonald in the Winyah Bay vicinity. After catching and releasing a red drum, I slipped my hands in the murky water over the side of the boat to rinse the fish’s slime off.

McDonald, always to the point with his comments, said something to the effect of “I’d be careful with that.”

“Why’s that?” I asked McDonald, the owner/operator of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown.

“Bull sharks,” he said.

On July 10, a video of a bull shark violently snatching a red drum off an angler’s line just as it was about to be netted from a dock in Cherry Grove Inlet went, as they say these days, viral. The video has generated thousands upon thousands of views on YouTube and angler Sarah Brame, who lost the estimated 16 to 18-inch redfish to the sizable bull shark, was later interviewed by ABC News.

That video and that McDonald comment, raised the question – was the bull shark stealing Brame’s redfish in a local estuary, or inlet, as unlikely an occurrence as many in the unknowing public may think?

“I think it’s much more common than everybody believes,” said Capt. Mark Dickson of Shallow-Minded Inshore Charters, who calls the Little River, Cherry Grove Inlet and the surrounding area his home waters. “There are no boundaries for those sharks.”

Bull sharks, regarded as the most aggressive of the sharks that frequent S.C. waters, show up in local waters in late spring. The species is also known to frequent estuaries and has been found well up rivers in freshwater around the world.

“You start seeing them in late May and right on through until the water temperature gets too cold for them in the fall,” McDonald said. “You see them on the beaches, in the creeks, anywhere bait or fish are at.”

Encounters where a bull shark takes a red drum, trout or another species of fish off the line as it nears the boat, dock or pier is something the 66-year-old McDonald has often experienced firsthand.

“I lose fish to sharks probably a dozen, maybe two dozen times a year,” said McDonald, who has been fishing the waters of the Georgetown/Winyah Bay vicinity his whole life. “I’ve had redfish on that would be about 30 inches or better, and have a bull shark come up and swallow the fish whole right up to the leader. I’ve got pictures of fish that have been cut off by bull sharks, cut in half. They come up and take them right when you’re about to net the fish.”

Now, back to the washing of the hands in the water. McDonald uses a hand towel to get fish slime off his hands.

“Any splashing in the water emulates a fish and (a shark doesn’t have) to be 10-feet long to do some damage,” McDonald said. “They usually come right from under the boat when they get a fish.”

Considering the speed with which the bull shark swiped Brame’s redfish seemingly from out of nowhere, I think I’ll take McDonald’s hand-washing advice to heart from this day forward.

Governor’s Cup

Micabe released two blue marlin and three sailfish for 1,800 points to win the MegaDock Billfishing Tournament out of Charleston City Marina Saturday, the fourth of five events in the 2012 South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series.

Micabe, owned by Michael Larrow of Ridgeland, won the MegaDock tournament and the Governor’s Cup series in 2009.

Reel Passion, the defending series champion and fresh off a victory in the Carolina Billfish Classic, took second place after releasing two blue marlin and one sailfish for 1,400 points. Caramba finished third, also with 1,400 points, after releasing two blue marlin and a sailfish.

With one tournament left in the series, the Edisto Marina Billfish Tournament July 25-28, Caramba leads the points standings with 4,175 points. Home Run is second with 3,775 points followed by Sadie Beth (3,775), Syked Out (3,475) and Reel Passion (3,375).

The 38-boat field released a total of 71 billfish including 49 sailfish, 20 blue marlin and two white marlin.

Little River entry Russellhatt landed a 45-pound wahoo that won the daily meatfish prize last Friday in the tournament, earning the crew $8,100. The crew included angler Kirkley Russell of Davidson, N.C., and Capt. Robert Mintz of Little River.

Tailwalker Offshore Challenge

The Tailwalker Marine Offshore Challenge, originally scheduled for this weekend out of Georgetown Landing Marina, has been postponed until August 10-11.

Expected high winds and rough seas caused the tournament to be postponed.

Registration for the tournament will remain open with the early entry fee extended until Aug. 1. For more information, call Tailwalker Marine at 527-2495 or Georgetown Landing Marina at 546-1776.

Wild Turkey Banquet

The Murrells Inlet Longbeard Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will stage its annual conservation banquet Aug. 3 at The Beaver Bar Pavilion in Murrells Inlet.

Proceeds of the event go to the conservation of the wild turkey and to benefit South Carolina’s hunting heritage.

Tickets are $55 per person or $90 per couple, which includes a BBQ dinner with all the fixings, drinks and numerous auction and raffle items. Sponsorships are also available and include gifts such as custom oyster knives. Call Chris Hawley at 455-0371 for more information.