Catch and Release Tips for Sharks

Don’t put yourself in harm’s way. Texas Shark Rodeo is not responsible for any injuries while participating in the tournament, it is the responsibility of the participant to know how to handle sharks. These tips are merely suggestions to help the release be as efficient as possible. Some of these steps may not be suitable for larger sharks.  You will definitely need help with a shark over 7 feet.   Remember, safety first. 

Successfully catching, tagging and releasing sharks takes practice, teamwork, and swift actions to ensure the safety of yourself and the shark.  Being prepared is one of the biggest factors in this process.  

Suggested supplies you will need to release a shark: Towel, big pliers, hook-out tool, knife, gloves, tape measure, tag stick, shark tags, camera, tripod, flashlight, headlamp, tail rope, bolt cutters or heavy duty cutting pliers, pencil, and something to write on.

It is a very good idea to keep all of your shark landing gear organized together as a kit and stored in something like a backpack. Backpacks can be carried easily with all the gear needed if a shark pulls you away from your camp. Having that kit readily available, easily carried keeping you prepared, and will let you get the shark released as quickly as possible.  

Play the fish as quickly as possible. The longer the fight, the less likely the fish will survive after release.

If the shark is large, tail rope it and use the rope to take it toward the beach.  This will reduce the chance of the fishing line breaking during the landing process, again increasing the chance of survival.

Keep the shark pointed into the waves to allow oxygenated water to circulate through the gills. Keeping the gills 2/3 the way submerged greatly increases the chance of survival and decreases stress on the shark.

Determine the sex of the shark.  Males have claspers near the anal fin, females don’t.

Use a small towel or something similar to place over the sharks head and eyes to keep them calm and offer some protection from the teeth. Be very careful in all stages of handling a shark. 

Attempt to remove the hook with pliers or hook removal device.  If you are unsuccessful in a couple of minutes, cut the hook (if possible) and remove the pieces with pliers.  If unable to cut the hook, cut the cable or mono leader as close as possible to the hook. Insert a tag just behind the dorsal fin if you or someone in your camp has tags. Please refer to the tagging information page for additional info on using the Texas Shark Rodeo tags.

Get all of the measurements required by TSR. Refer to the Photo Rules & Measurement Requirements  for the proper way to get the measurements Texas Shark Rodeo requires. The measurements you submit must match the measurements in the pictures, make sure they are accurate.

Take photographs of your catch as per Texas Shark Rodeo requirements. Make certain you are completely aware and knowledgeable in what the requirements are for the photos to qualify. Refer to the Photo Rules & Measurement Requirements and follow the guidelines and study the example photos. Failure to supply the required photos will result in disqualification of your catch.    

Walk the shark into the water headfirst when possible.  Don’t drag the shark backwards into the surf.  While walking the shark forward, position yourself behind the pectoral fin while holding the dorsal fin.  This will only work if the water is sufficiently deep to support the fish.   Don’t hesitate to ask people to help get the shark back into the water. 

When the shark shows signs of reviving, move backwards toward the beach sliding your hands backward along the body of the fish until you reach the tail with your hands. Give the tail a swat, and the shark should take off into the waves. 

Make sure you never take your eyes off the shark after it has been released.  Sometimes they will turn around or become disoriented and you might need to attempt the release again.