Tuesday, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announces that there will be special shark fishing days at the state’s Gulf State Fishing Pier.
The following dates have been selected for managed shark fishing at the Gulf State Park Saltwater Fishing Pier: August 12, 14, 19, 21, 26 and 28.
The shark fishing will take place on the south end of the pier, called the octagon, from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next morning on the selected Sundays and Tuesdays.
The octagon will close to routine use 30 minutes prior to these events, and will reopen to routine use 30 minutes after the shark fishing. During the events, the octagon area of the pier will be designated for the exclusive use of participating anglers and their designated assistants. The remainder of the pier will be open to anglers and other pier guests as normal.
The August managed shark-fishing events will allow for 15 anglers per occasion, with no more than one rod and reel per angler in use. Each angler may have one additional assistant, and anglers are encouraged to assist one another while fishing. This allows for a maximum of 30 individuals on the octagon area during each event.
Angler gear shall allow for larger reel sizes, but otherwise remain the same as provided for under existing pier rules, and anglers are required to provide their own gear.
Numerous people have come to the pier to observe the shark fishing in July.
Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein said he’s not really surprised by the interest in shark fishing, which is normally prohibited on the pier.
“We’ve been hearing for a while that people wanted the opportunity to catch sharks out here,” Lein said. “What has surprised me is the diversity of interest. There are some people who want to catch sharks to eat them. There are some people who just want to hook one for the sport of having a shark on the line. Others want to catch sharks to remove them because they think there are too many sharks around the pier.”
There have been complaints from some anglers who hook a fish, only to have it eaten by one of the many resident sharks.
Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship said, “The number of spectators crowding the pier to watch these events has been interesting. On both nights we had hundreds of people who came out to the pier to see what would be caught. At one point on Fox 10 Facebook Live there were over 880 people watching the first night. Sharks are fascinating creatures, as evidenced by the participation and the crowds. That is why the Discovery Channel has a whole week of programming dedicated to sharks every July.”
Several shark species in the Gulf are protected from fishing. There will be biologists on hand to identify the species of shark hooked.
Registration for the shark-fishing events is ongoing and anglers will continue to be selected in the order in which applications are received.
To register for participation, visit www.alapark.com/shark-fishing.
Applicants will need to provide contact information for notification of selection and will be notified a week or more in advance of the date for which they have been selected.
For the most current information on shark-fishing and other pier events, visit http://alapark.com/Gulf-State-Park-Fishing-and-Education-Pier.
Gulf State Park is one of the most popular of the Alabama State Parks. The State Park System is currently in the process of building the Gulf State Park Lodge and Conference Center near the state fishing pier.
Hunting and fishing are major industries in Alabama and contribute substantially to the state’s economy.
The Alabama State Parks are a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The division relies on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations.
Original reporting by Outdoor Alabama’s David Rainer contributed to this report.