Bundaberg fisherman Jesse Spence is skilfully catching sharks in the Burnett River to help with scientific research.
Jesse has loved fishing for as long as he can remember, and thanks to sponsorship from Predator Tackle, has developed a unique talent for catching sharks from shore and kayaks.
“Sharking in Bundaberg is a fairly new side of fishing for me but very welcomed,” Jesse said.
“My biggest local shark would be a couple of lemon sharks in the mid to high 9ft range and the majority of the bull sharks are around the 5ft to 7ft mark.”
Jesse’s latest big catch was a 7.5ft bull shark from the Burnett River last week.
“I was going for a quick run down the Burnett for an afternoon shark session,” he said.
“I didn’t have to wait long at all with this nice bull shark taking a liking to my offerings.
“She is still a long way off being that monster she can grow into but she is my biggest Burnett River bull shark to date coming in at a healthy 7.5ft.”
Shark fishing done safely
Jesse said his shark fishing endeavours were strictly catch and release and each fish was always handled with care.
“I use fishing tackle strong enough to get them in quickly without them being too exhausted and stressed along with the shark traces and circle hooks supplied by my sponsor,” he said.
“They get great hook in the jaw rate opposed to using other hooks where you could damage the sharks further.”
Jesse said legally, any shark over 1.5 metres was protected by law, and needed to be treated as such and returned to the water healthy and strong.
He said while bull and lemon shark fishing was a thrill, his main purpose was catching for research.
“I tag my sharks for the NSW Fisheries shark program to help them with research on the sharks, like how far they travel, their growth rates etc,” he said.
Jesse explains shark fishing
Jesse said due to his large and heavy-duty set-ups, reeling in Burnett River sharks could take him as little as 10 minutes.
“The skill set involved is much like any other fishing; you need to work out where they will be feeding at certain times and tides and what baits they are attracted to,” he said.
“The fight is very much a tug-of-war match between you and the shark.
“You put as much pressure on it as you can; it’s a lot of foot work making sure you’re nice and stable so it doesn’t drag you off your feet.
“Then it takes a good mate to help you out when you have it to the shore for safety and to help remove the hook, get the tag in and get some measurements and photos.”
Jesse said after that, the bull or lemon shark was released back to the water to swim freely away.
“To see them off swimming back into the night is a truly amazing thing in itself, to see them disappear into the river like they were never there,” he said.
Shark fishing from kayak and land
Jesse Spence said if there was one tip he could give those looking to take up fishing it would be not to overlook fishing from the banks.
“I have caught some trophy-class fish and I am land based and kayak fishing for the majority of the time,” he said.
“All you need is a cheap kayak and to put in the time and effort you will catch just as much and in some cases more than a lot of people in expensive boats.
“Fishing can be a very expensive hobby but it can also be very rewarding with very basic gear. It’s all about the time and effort you put in.”