Captain Joel’s Fishin’ Holes

Published on: July 29, 2015

August is Shark Month in Tampa Bay


SHARK-MONTHThe Shark Week shows and documentaries started on television right after the Fourth of July holiday weekend. It was so popular this year it turned into Shark Month!

Most people either fear sharks or are intrigued by them. Many people are highly educated about a lot of species of shark, and I take my hat off to the Discovery Channel for that and for helping us better understand sharks and the environment we share.

I’m especially impressed when kids get on my boat and they are wearing shark shirts and start rattling off facts and statistics about sharks.

In the Ana Banana Fishing Camp, we catch and harvest a few sharks, but all campers and parents understand we are not in favor of any fish meat going to waste.

If we keep a fish, we need to eat that fish — including a shark. In most fish markets around the world, black tip shark are on the top shelf. I’ve only had a handful of people tell me they didn’t care for the taste of shark, and many people tell me that, after trying shark for the first time, it was the best fish they’d ever eaten.

We eat black tip, nurse, bonnet head, reef, Atlantic sharp nose and female bull sharks. Ninety-five percent of what we eat are black tips.

Captain-JoelThe three main reasons we target black tips is because they are the best-tasting shark; they fight like a dream — jumping like a tarpon, digging like an amberjack, running like a wahoo, and behaving mean as a kingfish.

But the best of the three reasons comes from Dr. Heuter and Jack Morris of Mote Marine Laboratory for Shark Research. They have assured the Phil Pegley Black Tip Shark Shoot Out Annual Charity Tournament ( captains, anglers, tournament sponsors and tournament volunteers that black tips are heavily populated and they are not one of the species of which they would expect a population decline in the near future.

We have worked with Mote Marine Laboratory for years providing skin and fin samples, whole shark samples, fluid dynamics studies, tagging and recording programs, etc. We are proud to have Mote Marine in our backyard.

Here on the west coast of Florida, August should be Shark Month. In August, we catch a bigger variety, better quality and quantity. Since the weather warmed in late May, fish have come into shallow waters of the Bay and intercoastal waterways to feed and breed.

Tarpon, kings, cobia, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, blue fish, ladyfish, small sharks and skip jacks, to name a few, all rushed inshore during early June.

They ravished the baitfish and each other. Now, in August, it’s gotten so hot they’re all leaving for cooler waters, with a cloud of carnage in their wake.

Captain-Joel-2Where there is carnage, there are sharks.

The big sharks come in to clean up the mess and to cut off the previously mentioned fish at the pass on their way out of the shallows and into the deep.

If you don’t have any experience catching large sharks, it’s best to learn what to do and how to do it from someone who does know. It can get downright dangerous if you’re inexperienced. The main thing to remember is to keep the shark’s business end away from you and the others on the boat.

For a charter with Captain Joel Brandenburg of Ana Banana Fishing Company, visit, see him in person at Hooks Waterfront Grill at Little Harbor Resort, 611 Destiny Drive, Ruskin, or call 813-267-4401.