One of the most elegant creatures in the sea makes for one of the most thrilling fishing experiences someone can be a part of. Catching a shark is no simple task and shouldn’t be enacted by just anyone. If you’re going out to catch a shark, it’s pivotal that you come equipped with the right gear, tools, and knowledge of how to go about doing so. Don’t find yourself on the open ocean with a Great White on your line without the ability to reel her in.
For your safety and the safety of the sharks, the best shark catching practices include experience and skill – no amateur angler who simply wants the thrill should be out searching for sharks to catch. So how does one properly prepare for shark fishing? One of the most important bits of information to come prepared with is what type of bait you should be using. Finding their location is simple and preparing your line should be engraved in your mind. The bait, however, is where many falter.
Finding the Best Spot for Shark Fishing
Before we address the bait, it’s useful to note the best spots for shark fishing. The types of sharks you’re looking for will determine where you find yourself fishing. It should make sense that the larger sharks will be found in deeper water whereas smaller species can be spotted by piers and in the surf. Noting the location should be your first step in preparing for shark fishing and it won’t be difficult if you know the species and what they prefer in terms of surroundings.
Piers and Surf
The great thing about shark fishing in the surf is the accessibility. You won’t need to rent a boat and begin a week-long expedition out on the open ocean, searching for a Great White. Simply head out to the pier or beach, set up your line, and get going. Most of the sharks you’re going to catch in the surf will be anywhere from 40-80lbs, so set up your line accordingly. During the spring, some Makos might be spotted feeding which can net you upwards of 800lbs.
Surf fishing is a year round experience, especially in warmer climates as the sharks have plenty to feed on as they get closer to shore. The smaller fish that tend to reside in the surf and around piers make for a great attraction for sharks and will make luring them in easier for you. You’ll still need to put in the work of attracting them to your line and reeling them in, but the options are there and the fishing will be fantastic if timed right.
Your line setup will be the most important part of surf fishing. You’ll be in shallow waters so it won’t be necessary to find the longest line you have, just a strong one. It won’t pay to be caught fishing the surf with a weak line and you’ll find yourself restringing it quite often with sharks. A 50-80lb weighted line with a 10-foot spinner should work nicely for surf fishing. If you’re going for the spring Mako, you’re going to need a bigger line.
The open water can be a bit more difficult to locate the sharks as there is simply more water to wade through. Your best bet will be to locate underwater structures as sharks tend to reside around a marker where other fish are known to swim. This means you’ll need to search for reefs, holes, rocky regions, and underwater wrecks. If you’ve found a ship at the bottom of the ocean, chances are there are some sharks sneaking around protecting that treasure. Perfect for shark fishing.
Once you’ve found the perfect spot for the open water fishing, you’re ready to start chumming. If you’re out on the open water, you’re probably looking for the big sharks that make for a great picture and memory. A small line that works wonders for surf shark fishing will be useless out here. You’ll want a line that can go deep and withstand the underwater currents. Come prepared with a line that reaches far down below you and can withstand hundreds of pounds of shark. Certain lines are specifically designed for shark fishing.
Best Bait or Chum for Sharks
Now that you’ve found the sharks and know where they are most active, it’s time to lure them into your line. You’ll need to give them a reason to come to you rather than stay by the wrecks and structures they feel most safe around and the best way to achieve this is by tossing out some buckets of chum. Be sure to come prepared with plenty of chum as you’ll be going through a lot in the span of a day. Once the sharks catch wind of your chummy endeavours, they’re sure to want plenty and you’ll find yourself tossing out buckets that are swallowed up in seconds.
Be smart about how much chum you put out, your goal is to attract the sharks and bring them in to your chum slick, not to feed them for the day. Once the sharks are near, it’s time to drop your line in the water and bring them in with the best bait. Many anglers prefer to use bluefish and mackerel as their oily skins tend to attract the sharks better. Filleting these fish will help attract the sharks to your line rather than the other chum you’re using. Keep them fresh too as this will help the pull.
When you cast your line into your chum slick, be careful what you use as sometimes these larger fish will get wind of your bait and you’ll attract undesired fish, not sharks. These undesired fish will most likely be bluefish which is why we recommend using them as the bait. Make sure your line setup is able to withstand the weight and fight of the shark as these might be some of the toughest fish you’re going to encounter as an angler.
Reeling The Shark In
Wait a little bit before you set the hook as you don’t want to scare the shark away. If you let the shark get the bait in its mouth, you’ll increase your chances of a successful set. Now is the most pivotal part of the reel, stick close to the shark the whole time so that the line has plenty of room to work. You don’t want the shark to get through the whole line leaving it tugging tight on the spool. Keep the boat in motion, but only once you have the shark hooked on. The motors could prevent any sharks from coming to the boat in the first place.
Be ready to play a game of tag with the shark as many of them might make a move for the engines out of desperation. You do not want the shark to hit the engines as you’ll be left dead in the water and the shark will too. For the safety of both parties, stay close to the shark but keep the shark out of range of the engines. Let the shark tire itself out before bringing it close to the side, and get ready to pull her up. Make sure everyone knows their jobs and stays out of everyone else’s way. Bringing the shark in is a team effort and should be enacted and led by someone with shark fishing experience.
Releasing a Shark
We advocate for the release of sharks after a successful catch. Most sharks do not make good table fare and it’s disrespectful to these incredible fish to keep them mounted on a wall. Many sharks are protected by legislation to keep endangered species swimming, so a catch and release is heavily recommended and practiced by most anglers.
Continue reading: How to Catch a Sand Trout