Seemingly, one of the most extreme and daring types of fishing is shark fishing. Although it really isn’t as dangerous as many people may think, there are some ways it can go wrong. It all comes down to being prepared and knowing what you are doing while you are out there.
Without the proper knowledge, shark fishing can be both dangerous and unfruitful. Thankfully, there are a number of focal points that if you have a baseline knowledge of them, you can turn your next trip around for the better.
Here is the ultimate guide to shark fishing!
Find a great spot
Like many other areas of fishing, there are a number of spots and styles when it comes to targeting sharks. Without a good spot to target shark, all of the other tips on this list are practically pointless.
The most common way to fish for shark is from a boat. This is how a majority of saltwater fishing is done. Obviously, boats can cover water very quickly and you can move form spot to spot easily. If one place doesn’t have any action, you simply bust on over to the next spot.
Fishing from a boat also gives you a safe space to be. The boat inherently creates space between you and the shark. This will vary based on the size of your boat, but the idea stays the same.
Although many excursions happen on a boat, shark fishing from the shore has become increasingly popular. Especially since shark have been moving closer and closer to the shore in recent years, the opportunity is there. Setting up rigs on the beach and champing out all night has become an awesome way to target shark.
Overall, it all comes down to having a knowledge base that allows you to target hotspots. This will probably take a bit of outside research, but the very important first step is to find a spot to try.
Get a quality setup
Along with your terminal tackle and bait, your rod and reel setup is one of the most important physical aspects of shark fishing. Without the proper tools being used, you stand no chance against a big shark.
Early on, you need to decide if you want to use deep sea baitcasting equipment or spinning gear. In reality, you can have both if you can afford it. You also don’t want to be really stingy. Cheap equipment will break or fail quicker, so investing in quality is important when possible.
If you are offshore on a boat, the type of rid vastly changes from ones that are used on the shore. For offshore excursions, it is good to keep the rod between 5-6-feet long. These will be really beefy, so the rod should be rated for a big shark.
When you are on the shore, it is flip flopped in a way. The rod will be a bit flimsier, but you are also looking 10-12 feet in length. Although length is important, you need to understand the weight rating. Every rod has a rating to what it can handle. Some rods can only control 10-20 pound sharks. Others are rated for over 200 pounds, it all depends.
Depending on the type of rod you have, your reel will follow course. For spinning rods, you need a spinning reel, and vice versa. As a general rule, you should stick to the bigger brands pike Penn, Daiwa, and Shimano. These are tried and true brands that know what they are doing.
Spinning reels should usually be between 5000 and 10,000 on the size scale. This also depends on your line, so this will vary.
For bait casters or conventional reels, you are looking for a reel that is built well and has the capability to hold a lot of line. Sharks can go on long runs, so you have to have a spool big enough to allow for that.
Assemble your tackle
Once you have a good rod and reel that you can depend on, the next bit of gear needed is tackle. This includes line, baits, and hooks. Here is a breakdown of some of the tackle required for shark fishing!
Obviously, shark can get very big and very strong. So, your line is your first step toward controlling these fish. Without the correct line, things can go wrong very quickly.
Simply put, the most common line used for shark fishing is braid. Braided line has a number of perks that are quite appealing to shark fishermen. One of these perks is its strength. Braided line is super strong and stronger than both monofilament and fluorocarbon. So, having 80-100-pound braid is perfect for most shark fishing.
The second big perk of braid is its diameter. 100-pound braid is about the same size as 25-pound monofilament. This allows you to really stack on line and get a lot of length on the reel. Shark run and can be super powerful, so having extra yards can be a gamechanger.
Monofilament is also great for shark fishing, but you have to have the right reel for it. Because way more braid can be packed into a reel, you can’t fit as much monofilament, so you have to use a beefer reel that can hold a good amount of line.
These lines are paired with a super strong leader that ensures the shark won’t break you off. Normally, these leaders are 400+ pound metal cables, so the shark’s teeth won’t just cut right through it.
Another huge variable is the hook. Hooks come in all sizes and strengths, so gearing up with the right options is huge. Obviously, a hammerhead and a blacktip are very different sharks that have differing strengths. So, different hooks should be used. The size of the bait also makes a difference, because it must stay on the hook long enough for a shark to bite.
For smaller baits, you may want to stick with 6/0-10/0 hooks. This will help you target sharks under 6-feet-long. These are great for small blacktips and reef sharks. When fishing from a beach, these are usually the sizes warranted. You don’t want to overdo it, because a hook that is too big for the hark could affect the quality of your hookset.
When you are targeting some larger sharks, you will probably use a hook varying from 10/0 to 20/0. These will be for sharks like hammerheads and bulls. They have a ton of power and are some of the biggest in the ocean. You probably will only use these when specifically targeting the big ones from a boat.
The bait you use to catch sharks really isn’t a complex part of the process and does not require a ton of thought. Unlike many other areas of fishing, artificial baits and lures are almost never used. Sharks are very scent driven, so blood and natural oils from real bait do the trick.
Although it usually isn’t considered live bait, the best bait you can use for shark fishing is fresh fish caught in that specific area. There are frozen options, but the fresher the better. You want the bait to be as close to what the shark would naturally eat as possible.
This probably includes mullet, jackets, mackerel, bonito, and bluefish, to name a few. This list goes on and on, but the key is to catch or buy fish that are local.
You also want the fish you use as bait to be both oily and bloody. Because sharks can smell these aspects from miles away, it is important to not use neutral bait. The richer, the better. There is nothing less productive than bait that has no appeal to the shark.
Plus, a big perk of using fresh-caught bait is that you can usually catch it yourself. Not only are you fishing for shark, but if you have the right equipment on deck, you can also fish for the bait!
Chumming the water is really important when shark fishing, especially from a boat. There aren’t many areas of fishing that chum is used, so if you are a beginner, this idea may seem a bit foreign. Knowing how to properly chum the water will make your odds of hooking up much better.
Chum is chopped up fish and their guts. Dumping this into the water fires up the shark and gets them in the headspace to feed. Without this primer, sharks are both less aggressive and more likely to not even look at your bait.
You have to be careful to not over chum the water, though. If you feed the sharks too much, why would they be interested in your bait? The key is to find the perfect balance. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to the amount of chum being used, but you can definitely overdo it if you aren’t careful.