Here we go; strapped up and hooked into a great hammerhead on a new Ozmosis rod.

I came onto the sharking scene with great enthusiasm and quickly developed an addiction. When I first became obsessed with fishing from the beach, my heart and soul seemed connected with the mystical waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Over the last two and a half decades, I've spent more time on the sandy beaches of Padre Island chasing predatory sharks than anyone else. I feel blessed and grateful for the accolades and achievements credited to me. And I've come full circle, focused for the last decade on providing others with opportunities to battle our awe-inspiring toothy critters.

When I was first introduced into the shark fishing world in the late 1990s, the internet was in its infancy. From the emerging technology, on sites like the one headed by David Williams, most of us learned our sharking fundamentals. Back then, most avid sharkers used tackle which now seems archaic. Penn Senator reels, mostly the wide versions of their 4/0 and 6/0 models, dominated the creels of most anglers. While a dedicated few did target the larger sharks with 9/0, 12/0, or even 16/0 reels, most started out slightly smaller, properly learning the basics before diving in full-throttle.

On their relatively light tackle, most budding sharkers fished with much smaller baits back then. Kayaking these diminutive baits beyond the breakers in both calm AND rough conditions generally yielded a wide variety of medium-sized sharks, satisfying most of the people. But as technologies enhanced the equipment used in the game, methods improved as well. About 15 years ago, workhorse lever-drag reels became more common, in particular the larger models. Combined with strong braided line, this allowed us to successfully target the biggest sharks in our waters.

These days, it sometimes seems most of the hard work in the sharking game has been eliminated. Entry-level sharkers who have never held a fishing rod in their hands can buy all the top-of-the-line gear, even a drone, and have a chance at doing battle with giants, sometimes without even getting wet. While I have mixed feeling regarding this, we've undeniably entered a new, better era in Texas sharking. The old days of putting in so much effort just to deploy baits are over.

Adding to the positive trends in the sport, photos have become the most revered trophies sought by most of today's anglers. Thirty years ago, large sharks landed on Texas beaches were rarely returned to the water. Sadly, people considered them disposable. The jaws of giants were often extracted, the rest of their remains discarded like trash. It's pleasantly amazing how changes in attitudes can affect a sport, its methods and the fishery itself, all in one generation. On many of my recent charters, entire families arrive to fish, including young children. I take seriously the responsibility of trying my best to educate the kids about the ocean and the amazing life forms it supports. I enjoy seeing the reactions of both the young and the old when they look a shark in the eyes and show respect to nature and the creature.

These kinds of joys are relatively new to me; I started at the ground level while building a life in this sport, making my own weights, leaders and fishing rods. Now, my hard work has paid off handsomely. About two years ago, Greg Ray, one of my clients and friends called and we started talking about rods. He reflected on when he had battled a big tiger shark with me on a charter one summer night, then asked, "If there were anything you could change about the blanks in the rods you use, what would it be?"

I had to think before I responded. I told him I liked the fantastic rods (mainly Jawbones) I use, and would make just minor tweaks to their action and balance.

Surprisingly, he asked, "What if I could make that happen? What if you could design your own shark rod?"

Once again I had to think before I responded; this time I took a couple days to ponder the possibilities. Several days later, Greg called again and said he had succeeded in convincing one of the most reputable rod blank companies in the world to help us create my personal vision of a perfect, heavy, land-based shark blank. I felt honored to commit to the plan. From that point on, Greg and I worked with an amazing team. After a little more than a year of effort, thought and consideration of parabolic strengths and stress-testing, I approved the final design of the blanks, hoping to create a sturdy, balanced rod capable of withstanding the rigors to which we subject it. These blanks, in Standard Heavy and Extra Heavy power, have now been dubbed and branded as Ozmosis rod blanks.

These blanks rely on an unorthodox hybrid composition utilizing innovative modern technologies to serve as the spines for supremely effective 10' shark rods. In essence, a lower portion of the blank is a heavy dense-wall graphite which merges precisely into a heavy glass section comprising the majority of the blank. Where and how these two materials merge becomes integral in the manufacturing process. The lower section provides less flex near the butt than conventional all-glass rods, but the blanks remain incredibly strong and sturdy. The design also frees the rear of the blank of a small amount of weight to help counterbalance the reel. After personally testing these rods for the past few months, I'm thrilled with the results. The first decent shark of the season battled on an Ozmosis rod was a respectable and healthy 10' hammerhead, and the blank handled the fight flawlessly.

The Ozmosis rods were first released for sale to the public in May, at Breakaway Tackle in Corpus Christi. Nick Meyer was eager to get them in the shop, and his team builds them to their customers' preferred specs. The series is also being introduced at Roy's Bait and Tackle, another of Corpus Christi's great tackle stores, one of the largest land-based shark fishing suppliers in Texas. They will soon have some of the blanks and a plethora of rod-building supplies to customize builds for people with the skills to wrap their own rods. People who don't live near Corpus Christi can contact Mr. Ray of Salty Rods Enterprise at [email protected]. Greg offers rod-building kits and build sheets for sale and pick-up in the Houston area. Folks seeking a timely emergency purchase during after-business hours in the Corpus area can contact me directly to obtain a blank or two.

This is all fun for me. I've been blessed over the years with many great friends in the sport. They've made what I've done possible. I've generally been an experimental, self-taught, innovative angler. From my Catch Sharks leaders with one-of-a-kind Tru-Sand technology to the evolution of a modern brand of fishing rods, I'm always trying to keep up with the times, optimize the old, improve on the new and give something back to the fishing community. The fruition of the Ozmosis rods has been like a dream come true. They've already earned a regular place in my arsenal. Many thanks to Greg for making this all possible. I designed these rods from personal preference, and I'm not claiming they're better than everything out there. But, I can attest these impressive tools are comfortable to use and fully capable of helping people win big battles.

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