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Wrestling A 5 Foot Shark Out Of The Ocean With My Bare Hands

28.65. General. Except as provided in this article, fin fish may be taken only on hook-and-line or by hand.

This is one of the weirdest, craziest, most memorable experiences I’ve ever had, while surf fishing. You know every time I go fishing, I see something I’ve never seen before. Today I saw these weird shellfish of some kind growing on the rocks, and I saw kelp reflecting an iridescent blue color, but nothing prepared me for what I was about to experience next.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m not a sportsman. I’m not even really a fisherman. I like to think of myself as a wild food forager. But I’m only really comfortable referring to myself as a human. The root word of human being is HUMA, meaning Of And For The Earth. Fun fact, it’s the same root used in the word “Hummus”, as in soil or compost. And I believe that’s our basic chemical purpose on this earth. To deal with organic matter. Moving this matter over here and that matter over there to facilitate our survival, also has a positive effect on the planet as we build natural homes, mulch natural gardens, and do our other natural human behaviors like hunting, fishing, and storytelling. I believe that our modern technologies provide us with a lot of comforts and conveniences, but they simultaneously remove us from our primitive human nature. We’re no longer doing the behaviors that our ancient ancestors did as they naturalized on this planet. As our lifestyles become less and less natural, we experience more and more stress, and illness, because we’re not getting the kind of exercise and diet that we’re supposed to engage with. Hunting your food, processing your food, cooking your food, eating your food, giving thanks for your food. This is one thing we can do to reconnect with our human nature and prevent all kinds of illnesses. Both physical and mental.

There is no healthier food, than wild food. There is no more economical food, than wild food. There is no more ecological food, than wild food. There’s a massive abundance of wild plants and animals that require zero fertilizing, zero pesticides, zero tractors, and zero people driving back and forth to work every day. No farms tilling their soil, dumping countless gallons of processed municipal water, polluting the rivers and oceans.

And nature is abundant with these foods. Nature abhors a vacuum. What does that mean? If you cut a hole out of your lawn, the grass will grow right back over that bare spot of exposed soil. Literally, anywhere life can happen, life is happening. Under practically every rock in the ocean, there's some fish looking for other smaller fish that it can eat. And every time a fish is removed from the system, another fish grows into it's position. Every year these fish spawn by the trillion and make many times more fish that have the potential to grow into mature fish. Every fish will eventually die and be eaten by other fish, crabs, birds... It is the final destination of every fish in the ocean. The only question is, how many fish will it eat before it gets eaten.

These are all some of the questions I ask myself while I’m out there fishing, pondering, meditating... As I move from rock to rock on the beach, I become like a fish. Looking for some other small fish to eat. Always watching over my back to make sure I don’t become their food.

So it’s April 29th. We had a ROUGH winter with endless monster waves and rain storms and brown water. My freezer was drying up. The fish I had caught over the fall and winter had nearly been consumed, and I was already starting to think about where I could go to start restocking the freezer for the year.

I saw the waves were predicted to be tiny, so I decided to hit the rocky beach and get some more experience fishing my TX Rigs through the rocks. After a few hours, I caught this beautiful Black and Yellow rockfish.

A couple more hours went by with no bites. So after about 5 hours of fishing the rocky beach with swimbait for rockfish, I decided to stick it out a couple more hours and cast my jerkbait on the sandy beach through sunset in hopes of finding a striped bass or at least some slab perch. I walked north to the sandy beach and started casting. I was standing on a sandbar with a trough behind me so I kept checking the depth of the tough behind me as the ride was rising just to be safe and make sure I didn’t get trapped out there on the sandbar in my waders. There was a huge rip current there in front of me and that’s the last thing I wanted to get caught in. A big wave came by and filled up the whole area with water up to my thighs so I knew it was time to retreat back to shore. I waited for just the right moment and then quickly made my way back to the sand. When I got there, I continued to fan-cast my Battlestar 115 jerkbait.

So I’m cranking along when suddenly I notice this huge black fish of some kind in the cloudy sand just a foot or two in front of me. At first, I almost jumped backward, and then just as instantaneously as I realized what it was, my right hand lunged forward and grabbed it by the tail! I was surprised to see myself reacting like that. It was pure instinct! Suddenly, I had my hand wrapped around the thick tail of a huge leopard shark! It immediately started sloshing side to side with its powerful head shakes and doing a death roll, twisting and twisting, as tho it was trying to wring my arm off like a chicken wing. I just flexed down as hard as I could, leaned back, and pulled with all of my might! It took 100% of my physical strength and energy to successfully, barely, wrangle this sea monster directly out of the ocean with my bare hands. It was the weirdest, most surreal fishing experience I’ve ever had.

I looked out into the ocean in disbelief with my hand upon my head, my eyes wide and my jaw dropped and shouted aloud at the horizon.. Holy $hit! Did that really just happen?!

I started to field dress my harvest, and as I bled and gutted this fish to preserve the quality of the meat, I noticed myself feeling so humbled. Almost to the point of embarrassment. Here I had fished for 5 long hours with a swimbait and a jerkbait. Lures I had spent years designing and I’m so proud of, and I was about to go home with just one small fish to show for all my time, energy, gas money… and I wasn’t complaining about it, I was grateful I had caught one at least… But I was just wondering if I was going to be able to get back to my wild food diet, or how long it would take for me to pick up another limit of perch or something… and then bam! The ocean literally handed me a fish. Like here, food. This is sustenance. This will feed you until the next fish comes along. And inside I heard myself chanting “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

I gotta tell you, I hesitated to tell this story. I almost allowed myself to feel embarrassed for a minute there. But then I realized I’m just feeling very humbled, and very grateful, and that a lot of people would really enjoy hearing this story. And when you hear this story, it adds a whole new dynamic of fun for me, to know that you’ve heard it.

So if you’re out there listening to this, please, leave a comment, and I want to say THANK YOU!

Cast away your fears. Chase your dreams.


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