Sharkathon 2022 - A Tradition Continues
~ Sharkathon 2022 was another excellent weekend for the books. It is something we look forward to every year! It is a fantastic conservation awareness effort and an opportunity to spend an entire weekend camping with family and friends on the beach! I am a professional spectator of the event. Meaning I like to go and camp, hang out with friends, play games and cook food on the beach, but I don’t actually do any sort of fishing. Rob, the other half of Coastal Ed’s Coastal Carts, does participate in the shark fishing division as well as the weekend-long beach party, fun, food, and shenanigans. It is such an extraordinarily good time and is just as much fun as it is exhausting, and needs the same amount of days to recover as participating.
Rob (left) and Terry prepping shark bait!
About SharkathonSharkathon is a catch-and-release educational awareness tournament held once a year in October. The idea was born in 2004 by local fishermen Curtis Mai, Ron Ward, Trevor Lovett, and Russell Weir. After a full day of surf fishing down Padre Island Nation Seashore and discussing the dwindling shark population, they decided to create the tournament to promote conservation awareness and preserve their way of life. Not just sharks, either. This tournament is for Redfish and Trout as well. The first tournament had a modest 50 surf fishermen and has since grown its loyal following with over 500 entries to the tournament each year. It is strictly a catch, photograph, and release contest. Each contestant must follow the tournament rules; the most significant rule is no cheating! You would think that wouldn’t need to be addressed, but in a world of shady people adding weights to fish, you need to lay out a very clear list of rules, so be sure to read them. The basic rule is everything from dragging bates to reeling in must be done manually. No help getting your baits out with anything other than a kayak and sheer will. And this year was no joke; the waves were huge, and fishermen were in for a fight.
Fisherman James Everhart and son Jackson - Sharkathon 2022 Tradition Continues
Battling the waves at Sharkathon 2022A couple of the shark fishermen in our group were rolled on their kayaks while paddling bait out, and getting back onto a rolled kayak is tough. You are battling the same waves that knocked you over, and the current wants to pull you down the beach, all while you are still trying to to upright the kayak and hold onto the bait hooks. Our guys all survived, but there was a stranger down the coast that almost didn’t. He was a shark fisherman there for Sharkathon with his family and friends. Saturday early afternoon, the sun was blazing, and the waves were high. He and his kayak launched with a bit of help from his crew, and off he paddled, baits in tow. He made it just after the 2nd sandbar when the rolling waves turned and flipped his kayak. It was a great-looking Hobie kayak, but man, are those kayaks heavy, especially when you can’t touch the bottom and rolling gulf coast waves crash over you while you try to flip it back over and climb on. The man had flipped his kayak about a half mile south down the beach from us. We didn’t see it happen, but we saw the kayak as the current took it north in the strong 2nd cut. As it floated past, succumbing to the current, it appeared that the man was chasing his kayak, and someone hollered out, “Don’t chase it in the water, just follow it down the beach, and it will wash in closer!” That's when we realized the kayaker was still with the kayak, desperately holding onto it, dragged with the current and chased by another person trying to help.
The SaveOur friend and Sharkathon Fishman Terry Flowers was paddling his bait out when he saw what was happening. He immediately went to the flipped-over kayak to help. Even with a lifejacket, the man was struggling. He couldn’t flip his kayak back over and had lost his paddle in the rough water. He was panicking and taking in water. As Terry was there to help, the wild waves rolled him off his kayak. Terry’s kayak was smaller, lighter, and easier to manage and flip back over. Terry was able to help the man onto the smaller kayak and gave him his paddle. He straightened the kayak and, with a push, directed him toward shore, where the man’s family was desperately watching. I watched from a distance as the man came to shore dragging Terry’s kayak with him. His knees hit the ground, and he crouched low with his hands to his face, shaken by what had happened. As the rest of our Sharkathon crew assisted Terry with bringing the man’s kayak to shore, the man’s family rushed to Terry and hugged, kissed, and thanked him for saving his life. After a much-needed rest and Beach Rescue checked and cleared him, the man returned to our camp and profusely thanked Terry for his help. He even found his lost paddle and was back to fishing that afternoon. The man said it was the most scared he had ever been in his entire life. He is a Police officer for the San Antonio Police Department. Thank you Terry!
Beach Rescue on the scene after rollover kayak leaves man struggling in harsh waters
Terry Flowers (right) saves drowning Kayaker at Sharkathon 2022
The Reel UpOur Sharkathon 2022 crew (official team name still undecided) had lots of bites and taken bait but no trophy in site. However the biggest shark was caught down the beach by COREY WAKEFIELD with a 118" Hammerhead! His prizes were $20,000.00, Custom Rod built by Roy’s Bait and Tackle, Avet 80W and a Custom RTIC Sharkathon trophy cup from Hog River Hydrographics. To see the rest of the 2022 winners visit www.Sharkathon.com/winners.
So get to the beach, enjoy your time with family and friends and be careful out there. Oh and be sure to follow our blog.See you around the Island- Jen
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