Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shocked anglers came face to face with a Great White shark

Three local anglers shared a once-in-10-lifetimes scare last week.

Captains Dave Crisp, Fred Morrow and Rick Ryals slipped out around 2 p.m. to do a quick snapper fishing trip near the Pablo Grounds on Crisp's 21-foot Sailfish.

As Ryals tells it, he was fishing one side of the boat when he heard Crisp yell. He looked around in time to see Crisp jacking a red snapper up out of the water and under it, "all I could see was white."
The blur that Ryals saw was the underside of a great white shark that had come out of the water after the snapper.

Ryals said it happened "in seconds, but it took us all 20 minutes to compose ourselves and start fishing again."

Ryals said they estimated that the shark's head was between 3 and 4 feet wide and its length was between 15 and 20 feet.

"It was nearly eye-level out of the water," Ryals said. "The three of us have, I'll bet, 125 years of experience on the water and it scared us like I've never been scared before."

The shark disappeared, but not before taking the snapper by biting cleanly through an 8/0 hook. This is the time of year that these rare encounters with great whites occur off our coasts. The big sharks follow the migration of right whales south. The whales calve here and baby whales are among the shark's favorite prey.

FWC reduces Gulf snapper limits

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission voted Dec. 4 to reduce the recreational bag limit of Gulf gag grouper and red grouper from five to two fish daily per angler. It also closed the recreational harvest of gag and red grouper from Feb. 1 to March 31.

Other new rules increased the recreational minimum size limit for amberjack from 28 to 30 inches fork length and the limit on grey triggerfish from 12 to 14 inches. These rules take effect Jan. 1. The full agenda is online at

Bird seasons open again

The second phase of waterfowl and coot season opened Dec. 6 and runs through Jan 25. In addition to a regular hunting license, hunters are required to have both a Florida waterfowl permit and a federal duck stamp. It is illegal for hunters even to possess lead shot shells when waterfowl hunting. Woodcock season opens Dec. 20 and closes Jan. 18.

FWC sets blue crab closed seasons

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has proposed six regional closed seasons to the harvest of blue crabs.

The closures would be for 10 days and allow the FWC and other conservation groups to identify and retrieve lost or abandoned crab traps in state waters. The closure in the St. Johns River will be from Jan. 16 to Jan. 25.

All other state waters from the Georgia state line through Volusia County would close Aug. 20-29.


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