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Hefty Sharks are the only really big fish that are available for the hooking by virtually any fisherman, anywhere in salt water, from boat or shore. In the past, Sharks were ignored or maligned by the majority of anglers, with only a few of the largest kinds being grudgingly granted the accolade of “gamefish.” Finally, however, they seem to have gained widespread acceptance as worthy sporting adversaries, and also—the smaller specimens, anyway—as food. Not that large Sharks can’t be eaten too, but it’s a rare angler who wishes to wrestle a big one into the boat simply for culinary purposes. It goes without saying that Sharks of any species can be dangerous unless handled with the greatest care, and the larger the Shark, the greater the danger.
There are three main groups of sharks we will deal with here in Florida. The first is the Hammerheads. They look like creatures from outer space with their eyes located at either end of broad, flat heads. Three of these are common throughout warm waters, but the Smooth Hammerhead likes cooler temperatures and is only a seasonal visitor to Florida. The second group, known as Requiem Sharks, includes most of the species regularly encountered by anglers in our coverage area. Some are popular sporting targets and easily recognized, but sorting out the identity of others can be difficult for many fishermen. Our third group is made up of ocean-roaming Sharks that are often talked about, but not often seen by anglers, especially the Threshers, which comprise a separate family, while the Makos and Great White are in a family that’s referred to as Mackerel Sharks, probably because of their fast-swimming capabilities. In our part of the world, the Shortfin Mako, although by no means common itself, is encountered far more often than any of the others in this bunch.