This prairie angler tangled with giant sharks—in the dark!

Sharks after dark

Fishing for these apex predators is tricky. Now imagine doing it at night

A feisty Galapagos shark emerges from the inky depths

From Waikiki, we headed out farther into the ocean to near where the coastal shelf drops off into very deep water. Now in total darkness, our huge 65-foot vessel started to feel both tiny and very alone. And although I couldn’t actually see the ocean rollers, I could tell the seas were getting a little higher as we bounced along.

Once we were anchored and fishing again, I could feel the effects of the trade winds that slip over the island of Oahu and stir up the ocean. It wasn’t overly rough, but there was a definite sway that forced me to be careful of how I stood and moved. And when I looked at the dimly lit deck, I could see how much the ship was lifting and falling—a definite recipe for seasickness. So instead, I focused on the horizon, occasionally spotting the distant navigation lights of other ships.

Kyle startled me out of my trance when he grabbed my arm and pointed into the water in front of us. You could only see a few feet below the surface, but then I caught a glimpse of movement in the water. At first it appeared only as a shadow, but then ever so slowly turned into the body of a huge shark, at least seven feet long.“Tiger shark! Port side! Surface!” the captain barked as the shark glided by, just inches from the side of the boat. Almost immediately, the mate tossed out a baited hook attached to a float to keep it suspended. Ignoring the splash and clearly not spooked by us or the boat, the massive shark swirled around a couple of times before slowly disappearing back into the darkness.

Although we didn’t hook that tiger, it was incredible to get such a close-up view of this apex predator. Besides, just minutes later we were back in action, reeling in and releasing another big Galapagos shark after a spirited fight. Then, before we knew it, it was time to head back to port. The plan was to get a few hours of shut-eye before joining the rest of our group for another day of fun in the sun, but sleep seemed pretty unlikely with the adrenaline still flowing from our night of adventure.

Frequent contributor Mike Hungle is currently planning his next vacation fishing adventure.

 

Pro tip: Add some fishing to your tropical vacation

On your next family vacation to an exotic locale, consider working in a fishing excursion. Many charter companies and outfitters offer half- and full-day outings for exciting fish you never see at home. If you’re on a tight budget, you can cut costs by sharing a boat with other anglers.

One of my favourite tropical excursions is offshore bottom fishing. Generally, these trips are family friendly, with lots of action. The fish aren’t always big, but they make up for it in quantity and the variety of species.

Not that all vacation fishing excursions are limited to saltwater. Where I live in Saskatchewan, we don’t have much bass fishing, so one time I fished for largemouths at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida, and I practically had the lake to myself.

Facebook and other websites are great places to start looking for a charter. Your hotel’s concierge and resort employees may be able to suggest reputable fishing guides. Always read reviews, check references and look for outfitters that provide all the equipment—that way, all you have to do is show up. Also find out what happens to the fish you catch. Some boats are all catch-and-release, while others may keep and sell all the fish to help defray expenses. If you want to keep some fish, find a captain who will share some of the bounty with you to cook at your lodgings, or even to take to a restaurant.

 

Pro tip: Seasickness stoppers

If you’re prone to motion sickness, make sure to take some preventive steps before heading out onto the ocean—it’s always better to prevent motion sickness than try to cure it. This is especially important at night, since a boat’s motion feels more pronounced in the dark. Be sure to take any medicine or put on acupressure wristbands or anti-nausea patches well before leaving the dock.

If you do start to feel queasy while on the water, move to the centre of the boat, where there is less motion. And don’t go inside or below deck. Instead, stay in the fresh air and breathe deeply. Focus on your fishing, and look out at the horizon as much as possible. Also, sip on a soft drink, as the sugar and carbonation can help combat the effects of motion sickness.

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