Some species of
sharks like catfish. In fact, sharks are probably the only predators in the
ocean that can consume them with impunity. There was once a shark-fishing
tournament in Apalachicola, and large numbers of them were brought in and cut
open by people ghoulishly looking for human remains, but they didn't find any.
What they did find inside the 12-foot tiger sharks and 10-foot lemons were
hundreds of partially digested spiny catfish.
My thoughts were
suddenly interrupted by a large black fin popping up a few feet from the boat,
and I shouted, "Shark!"
no shark. That's a porpoise," said Edward, laughing. I felt foolish. Sure
enough, the fin came up and the black back rolled and I could plainly see that
it was a porpoise. Very likely it was eating some of the mullet heads, because
bottle-nosed dolphins, as they are properly called, are very fond of mullet.
Another porpoise surfaced, blew a loud phoof and went below.
We sat drifting
for almost an hour. Once we went over and checked the bait and threw out more
chum, but there was no activity. It was beginning to look like another wasted
day; obviously the tide had changed, and it appeared that the sharks had headed
out to sea.
shouted, "We got one! We got one!" and pointed at our farthest jug.
"Look at that son of a gun fight!"
waters were seething. The big white jug shot under the surface and in an
instant came exploding back up. Even from that distance we could see the big
gray tail fins lash out of the water. "Let's get him! Let's get him before
he gets away!" cried Leon as he jerked the starter cord. The motor
responded with a roar, and we were whizzing toward the rapidly moving jug,
gaining on it.
The tunnel boat
was the best kind for shark fishing, because its motor was mounted in an open
box—the tunnel—in the bow, not on the stern. Leon could get right up on top of
the jug no matter how fast the shark swam, dragging its concrete block behind
it. If the shark veered off when it heard the motor approaching, Leon could
turn equally fast. "Jack, get ready to shoot him," he said. "You
may not have but one chance."
I stood waiting
tensely with my arm outstretched and my .22 pistol pointing at the water. Leon
reached down and grabbed the jug after it surfaced and braced himself. The
shark sounded, almost wrenching Leon out of the boat, but he held on and yanked
backward. For an instant I saw a gray spotted form appear beside the boat and I
squeezed the trigger. Down went the shark, this time jerking the jug out of
all right," he said irritably, "I'll get you this time. Jack, wait
until I get him to break water, then let him have it."
Leon stepped back
into the stern where Edward was able to help him grab the jug. "Now for
God's sake don't let that rope wrap around your hand," he warned. "That
son of a gun will pull you overboard. If you think you can't hold him, let him