SHARK WEEK: Not uncommon to land a shark at Rutherford Beach

Updated: Aug. 11, 2020 at 11:35 AM CDT
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CAMERON PARISH, La. (KPLC) - Fisherman Matt Touchet anticipated his next catch.

“That might be a shark,” he exclaimed, leaning back while reeling in his line at Rutherford Beach.

Sure enough, Touchet landed a shark.

“Right around the first sandbar, you cast right on top of the first sandbar - I always catch there,” Touchet said. “I think I caught three last weekend and then the weekend before, I caught about eight.”

Shark Week kicked off Sunday but for fishermen in Louisiana, they're seeing sharks up close this summer.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to a large diversity of shark species and what you catch - big or small - depends on what happens in April and May when adult sharks swim up close to the coast.

It's not uncommon to catch a shark at Rutherford Beach, but visitors may find their catch smaller in size. NOAA'S John Carlson says that's because it's pupping season.

“We have a number of our coastal shark species such as blacktip, finetooth, bull sharks, the hammerheads - will move into coastal waters and begin to give birth,” Carlson said. “The adult females generally leave the area after they give birth and what we have is the growth of these newborn sharks throughout the summer long.”

Track sharks along the coast HERE.

Sharks under 54 inches must be released according to state guidelines.

Environmental consultant Jay Gardner says the quicker you can turn them in and out of the water, the better.

"The rule of thumb is - if you hold a shark out of a water then you should be holding your breath at the same time," Gardner said.

Taking hooks out is a critical time for pups, which can be dangerous for both them and humans.

“I wouldn’t advise trying to take a hook out of a shark’s mouth by hand, I would not,” Gardner said. “Even little sharks can, you know, if you’re not careful, can bite - so we ask all our fishermen that if they do catch a shark that they don’t plan on keeping is don’t battle the shark for very long because they will stress like any normal fish that’s caught in battle for long period of time. So get the shark to the shore as soon as possible, keep the shark in the water and cut the line as close to the hook as possible.”

Carlson says pupping season doesn’t increase shark attacks.

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