Photo Information

Capt. Phil Leonard holds a rod in his hand as he addresses base patrons during a shark fishing class in the Outdoor Adventures office aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 2.

Photo by Pfc. Nikki Phongsisattanak

Marines Get Hooked on Shark Fishing

10 May 2012 | Pfc. Nikki Phongsisattanak

Their species has ruled the oceans for more than 420 million years. To some, they are the sea monsters heard of in crimson tales, but to anglers, they’re just big fish with sharp teeth. One may call these bold fishermen monster hunters.

Whether they are called monsters or simply overgrown fish, sharks are the apex predators at the top of the underwater food chain, often feared by those who dare to venture into the waves.

Service members and patrons interested in hooking the jaws of this aquatic predator attended the Shark Fishing class, hosted at Marine Corps Community Services’ Outdoor Adventures Office, located at the Gottschalk Marina aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, May 3.

During the class, Phil G. Leonard, a boat captain and the instructor of the fishing clinics, shared tales of battling sharks on the end of his line.

“I’ve caught (a shark) that was around 350 pounds,” said Leonard. “He was so big that I couldn’t get him in the boat, but I was able to get him right next to us.

“Black tip sharks will give you a fight. You can have a black tip hit on one side of the boat and get on the other side before you know it,” Leonard continued. “They’re the fastest fish in the ocean, and they’re exciting because they’ll jump four to five feet out of the water.”

Leonard taught participants about the basic anatomy of sharks, covering everything from tail to fin. He also discussed about the different behaviors and feeding styles of shark species that inhabit North Carolina’s Crystal Coast waterways, all while telling his stories of thrill and adventures to classroom participants, who listened with rapt attention.

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” Leonard explained. “Sharks are strong fish. They’re mean and they’re the biggest thing you can catch close to shore.”

Black tip, lemon, mako, tiger and bull sharks are some of the species often found in North Carolina, said Leonard. However, they are certainly not the only species of sharks to feed off the Crystal Coast.

Leonard showed class participants examples of typical shark-fishing equipment. He gave tips on finding suitable types of equipment, which must be strong enough to use when fishing for an animal that’s equally equipped with sharp and tough features. Bronze hooks and steel lines are matched against razor-sharp teeth and rough sandpaper-like skin and must be strong enough to endure the unsung battle between man and fish. 

After the class came to a close, the experienced fisherman shared insight on great locations to anchor and cast, spending additional time speaking to attendees well after the class ended and solidifying his passion for the sport and his role as a teacher.

“I was prior military,” said Leonard. “And when I was in we didn’t have these programs and events available to us, so to be able to offer this to the service members is great.”

Leonard hosts fishing trips and has even offered to drive aboard the base to give rides to Marines without vehicles.

“I don’t mind helping them out,” remarked Leonard. “I love taking the guys fishing and I enjoy seeing the (service members) and their families have fun. It’s what I do for everything that they do for us.”

The shark fishing class was just one in a series of fishing classes that will be offered by Outdoor Adventures. Other fishing classes include inshore fishing and fly-fishing.

For more information on fishing classes or other events, call 451-1440 or visit For more information on Captain Phil G. Leonard, call 934-4677.