The first place to look for a shark attack here is Beaufort Inlet. Drop a chum bag along the buoy chain heading out to the Sea Buoy. If you don't get any results, try farther out the chain. It's good to have some live or fresh menhaden for extra spice in the slick, as well as a couple of rods - one with an intermediate line and the other with a sinker. Many anglers prefer integrated heads, like Scientific Anglers' Streamer Express or Rio's Density Compensated Lines. Both of these have a 25- to 30-foot sinking or intermediate tip with an intermediate running line. Keep an eye out for the occasional king mackerel as you watch the slick for sharp-nose, blacktips and possibly sandbar and hammerhead sharks.
Late in summer a real shark bonanza takes place around Beaufort Inlet when shrimp boats start fishing the ocean at night and culling their catch in the mornings.
The cull consists of small croakers, spots, pinfish and other bottom dwellers. This stream of fish drifting back in the current attracts quite the crowd. Last August, Capt. Joe Shute and I fished over some wrecks and live bottom out of Beaufort Inlet and were totally shut out. He mentioned the shrimpers, so the next morning we followed our backup plan and found that it wasn't just good, it was off the charts! We pulled up to the first shrimp boat, and I cast at the back of it, just missing a nice jack crevalle. The cull was drifting toward the bow of the boat, so we motored around and found a long chum line with literally a hundred sharks of all sizes happily feeding. They were eating little croakers off the surface and just under it - they were everywhere! There were just too many targets! This carnage turned two seasoned anglers into little kids squealing with excitement as if they were on their first fishing trip.
This kind of fishing is nothing new in the Gulf where anglers routinely trail commercial vessels to target the variety of species noshing on the boat's wash and bycatch. Prepared fly-fishermen also know that a couple of six-packs negotiated with a thirsty crew can translate into more chum than you know what to do with.
In these situations, you will find some bruisers in the mix, so 9- to 12-weight rods are the ticket. We tried all the standard-color shark flies, but red/orange/yellow Deceivers with gold flash drew the most interest. Sometimes slow strips that kept the fly in front of the shark worked best, while other fish preferred the dead drift-back with the cull. You can also get their attention by slowly twitching poppers or other surface flies.
Another sharky mid-Atlantic place is Cape Point. The day Shute and I scouted the area, the water was gin-clear with lots of current running out to the tip of the shoals. We saw the dark shapes from 200 feet off the beach to within 3 feet of the shore. At one time we counted 30 fish milling about, and some of these sharks were big "Moes" that would have required 12-weights and up. If we'd had time and chum, it would have been a lot of fun to let these big fish work us over. The most important thing was that we knew where to look and how to spot them.
So in the future, don't paint yourself into a corner when planning fishing trips. While there's always a first species of choice, you should never hit the water without a plan B - or even plans C to Z in your back pocket. Who knows, one of the backups may turn out to be so much fun that it moves to the top of your A-list.