As we cruise along about 100 yards off the beach, I turn to guide Scott Hamilton and ask, "How will we know when we've found them?"
"Oh, you'll know," he says assuredly. "When they're around, they show themselves." A little while later, we see several mean-looking creatures leap out of the water, conduct some spectacular aerial maneuvers, then crash back down. We'd found them, all right-spinner sharks.
Looking for adventure? These fish, which run about five feet in length and weigh 50 to 60 pounds, bend your rod and make your knees knock. In the spring they congregate along Florida's east coast. Once located, the best way to fish for them is to drop anchor in 10 to 20 feet of water. Cut the side of a bloody fish, like a jack crevalle, false albacore, or barracuda, and tie it to the transom. If the sharks are interested in feeding, they'll show up within minutes. We targeted them with 12-weight fly gear and large orange chicken-feather flies tied to a foot-long wire tippet and 50-pound leader. Conventional gear will also work, with either chunk baits or plugs.
When spinners come barreling down the bloodline, they're all business. As they approach, cast your bait or lure 20 to 25 feet behind the boat and retrieve it with short, erratic jerks. When sharks eat, all hell breaks loose. "Combine an albie with a tarpon and paint it brown," says Hamilton. "You'll learn how a spinner fights."
When I hooked up, the sharks started with a blistering run, ripping off 200 yards of line before giving me a pyrotechnic display, leaping into the air two or three times, spinning in flight, and causing general mayhem. As a result, we landed just three of the nine we hooked-and they each took 20 to 25 minutes of unrelenting pressure to subdue. But for a fight like this, the exhaustion is well worth it. To try it out, contact Hamilton at 561/439-8592.