If you’ve done much saltwater fishing, chances are you’ve caught your share of sharks, whether on purpose or accidentally while angling for other species. Either way, once you haul in the toothy fish, you must decide what to do with your catch and how to accomplish the task.
Unless you plan to eat your shark, it should be released quickly. Even though sharks are much feared and often viewed as mindless killing machines, just waiting to sink their teeth into unsuspecting swimmers, nothing could be further from the truth.
Of the many species of sharks around the globe, only a handful are implicated in attacks on humans. Considering the number of people entering the oceans each year, shark attacks are infrequent.
Sharks are an essential part of the ecosystem, serving as garbage disposals. They also help keep other species in check, ensuring healthy fish populations. The sleek, sturdy creatures usually live in harmony with man, with attacks being a case of mistaken identity. You’d be amazed by aerial views of many crowded beaches. Large numbers of sharks are frequently seen swimming among the bathers, and the humans are almost always blissfully unaware of their presence.
To release a hooked shark, wrap a towel tightly around its head. Have one person hold the shark firmly while you clip the hook’s shaft with a pair of cutting pliers. Then, if possible, retrieve the hook’s point, using a pair of long-handled pliers or a unique hook-releasing tool. Return the shark to the water as soon as possible.
If you have a taste for some fresh shark meat, kill the animal quickly. Stun it with a sharp blow to the head, then cut through the spinal cord with a sharp fillet knife. Not only will this immobilize the fish, but it will also make it impossible for the shark to feel any pain before it dies.
Most anglers prefer to slice the shark crossways to make steaks, but I like to slice fillets lengthwise down the shark’s body. No matter which method you use, you’ll have to remove the tough, sandpaper-like skin. Make the pieces of meat about one-inch thick.
Once you have your steaks or fillets, rinse them thoroughly and keep them chilled until cooking. You might want to place them in Italian dressing or your favorite marinade for a couple of hours.
Unless you tenderize the cuts, they will most likely have the consistency or rubber. Shark flesh contains tough fibers that need to be broken down before cooking. Using a heavy metal meat mallet, pound the steaks or chops on both sides, then add your favorite seasoning. Dredge the meat in flour, then fry in hot oil. You can also grill the meat, basting it with olive oil.
When cooked properly, a shark is tender and delicious. It doesn’t have a “fishy” taste. In fact, it’s more like a combination of mild fish, pork chop, and chicken. Because sharks caught in some areas contain dangerous levels of mercury, you need to check with the local game and fish before consuming any shark meat.