When traveling to Okaloosa Island, Florida, it is imperative to hit the beach, soak up some sun on the stunning white sand, and swim in the beautiful emerald waters of the Gulf Coast. Imagine the peace and serenity as you relax on your giant flamingo float while listening to the sound of crashing waves… but then, you see a fin! Is it just your friendly neighborhood dolphin or “some-fin” a little more sinister? While the chance of having a deadly encounter with “Jaws” is one in millions, it’s still always a good idea to know your surroundings, the marine life, and the different types of sharks that call Okaloosa Island home.
Different Types of Sharks at Okaloosa Island, Florida
There are over 400 known species of sharks, and the Gulf of Mexico is home to almost 50 of them! The Gulf is such a unique body of water, in that it has a vast and complex ecosystem, making it the perfect host for a variety of sharks. Below are some of the most common sharks you may see at Okaloosa Island:
1. Hammerhead Shark
The Hammerhead Shark is probably the easiest to identify, with their flattened heads resembling a hammer and wide-set eyes. When Hammerheads are born, they are about 2 feet in length, and can grow to almost 20 feet in length! While there are different species of Hammerhead Sharks, most still prefer the warmer, shallow coastal waters.
Image by Kris-Mikael Krister via Flickr
2. Bull Shark
Bull Sharks are typically found in brackish waters, similar to the bays and bayous of Okaloosa Island, and can grow close to 10 feet in length. Since over 30 river systems flow into the Gulf, it makes an ideal home for these marine hunters.
3. Lemon Shark
Lemon Sharks are one of the more social species of sharks, and tend to travel in groups. They can grow to about 10 feet in length, and are estimated to live around 30 years. Since they like to hunt close to shore, keep an eye-out for these majestic golden creatures!
Image from Wikimedia
4. Tiger Shark
Common in the Gulf of Mexico, Tiger Sharks are also easy to identify, as they have beautiful striations similar to that of a tiger. These not-so-gentle giants can reach close to 20 feet in length and a weight of 2,000 pounds!
Image from Wikimedia
5. Nurse Shark
Nurse Sharks are definitely one of the gentle giants of the shark world. They are known for their expensive habits such as relaxing on ocean floors and dining on crabs and lobsters.
Image by Tchami via Flickr
6. Black Tip Shark
Black Tip Sharks are very common sharks that are often seen swimming close to the surface. Fast and agile, these sharks have a maximum length of 6 feet, and are known for a distinct black mark on their fins.
Image by Geoff Shuetrim via Flickr
How to Catch a Shark at Okaloosa Island
If the possible shark sighting at the beach isn’t enough for your adventurous side, maybe catching one is! Shark Fishing on Okaloosa Island is as adrenaline pumping as it gets! Sharks can be caught inshore or offshore, depending on which species is being targeted, but the equipment needed is generally the same. What every angler needs is a rod and reel that can hold up to the pull of a shark’s super strength, lots of very strong or braided line, bait and chum, circle hooks, some upper body strength, and stamina.
Typically when trying to catch a shark, anglers will use chum to bring these prehistoric predators near the boat, wait for a bite, and reel in their very own “Jaws!” These muscular creatures can put up a fight, so be prepared to maneuver and adjust as necessary. Once you’ve reeled in your catch and admired the beast in front of you, the last step is to release it back into the deep blue. Practicing catch and release in shark fishing is important to preserving certain species of shark. If you plan on harvesting your catch, please follow all rules, regulations, and restrictions set in place by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Best Places at Okaloosa Island to Catch a Shark
Going fishing on the Emerald Coast is a no-brainer, especially when visiting the, “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” The only thing left to choose is where you want to reel in the big one! Below are the best places at Okaloosa Island to catch a shark:
1. From Shore
This is recommended for more experienced anglers with their own equipment. This is also a great way to catch a shark in solitude. With so much area, it is easy to find a quiet place to land a Lemon Shark! Click here for more information about obtaining a fishing license, rules, and regulations.
Image from Wikimedia
2. From a Pier or a Bridge
Some of the best places to fish on Okaloosa Island are from a pier or a bridge. The Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, for example, is a popular fishing destination for experienced and novice anglers alike.
Image from Pensacolafishingforum.com
3. From a Fishing Charter
One of the best and most efficient ways to catch a shark, however, is with a Private Fishing Charter. With an experienced, friendly, and helpful crew, catching a shark is easier, fun, exciting, and unforgettable!
Destin Fishing Rodeo Shark Saturday
Right up the road from Okaloosa Island is Destin, Florida, the home of the Destin Fishing Rodeo and Shark Saturday. Each Saturday during the Destin Fishing Rodeo, held October 1st – October 31st, anglers will hit the water with the intention of bringing home the biggest and baddest shark in the sea! Hop on one of these Destin Shark Fishing Charters and see the action for yourself, or hang out at HarborWalk Village and wait for the boats to bring in their haul for weigh-ins!
Image Courtesy of Destin Fishing Rodeo
Click here for more information about the Destin Fishing Rodeo and 2019 Destin Fishing Rodeo Vacation Deals!