December 5, 2023

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How to Go Shark Fishing – An Anglers’ Guide

Reading Time: 9 minutes

If you’re looking for the ultimate thrill of being eye-to-eye with an apex predator, then it’s time you learned how to fish for Sharks! There are well over 500 species of Sharks that inhabit the earth’s seas, which means there are plenty out there to help you make some unforgettable fishing memories.

Photo courtesy of Gulf Coast Yaker’s Land Based (M)

There’s a lot that goes into fishing for Sharks, such as bait, reliable gear, specific time periods, areas, and more. If you want to be a pro at wrestling with these beasts then you need to be an expert on the topic. And that’s why I’m here. In this guide, I’ll give you all the information you need on how to go Shark fishing. Let’s get started!

All About Sharks: The Basics

With hundreds of Shark species roaming the oceans, there are so many interactions an angler can have. The species you encounter greatly depends on the location you’re in, but some areas have a large variety of Shark species present too. Listed below are just a few well-known Shark species you’ve probably heard of:

Bull Shark

Bull Sharks are among the most aggressive Shark species around. They’re tough as nails and have a dangerous look to them, too. They can reach upwards of 12 feet, which attracts anglers looking for an extra tough fight. You can even find these brutes in freshwater lakes and rivers too!

Tiger Shark

A man crouching down in the surf on a clear day on a Texas beach, posing with a large Bull Shark caught while fishing
Photo courtesy of Padre Island Expeditions, LLC

Next up, the Tiger Shark. This species gets its name from its striped appearance, similar to the stripes on a Tiger. They reach comparable lengths to Bull Sharks, and the large ones can weigh around 2,000 pounds. Fishing off the beach or in deep waters gives anglers the fight of their lives when targeting Tiger Sharks.

Blacktip Shark

In the area where I fish most often (southwest Florida), Blacktip Shark is the most common species to catch. In fact, we almost always see one – if not catch one – on every trip we take out. Their name comes from the black tips they have on their fins. These Sharks are on the smaller side, only reaching maximum lengths of 8 feet, which is still impressive.

Hammerhead Shark

Two anglers aboard a center console fishing charter at sunset, pose either side of a Hammerhead Shark they caught
Photo courtesy of Killin Time Charters

This species is intense and unique! Their eyes are located on the sides of their hammer-shaped heads, giving them a 360-degree view. Big Hammerheads grow to be 20 feet long and can weigh over 1,500 pounds. Now imagine fighting one of these guys… that sure is an insane battle.

Nurse Shark

Nurse Sharks are a little more unique looking. They don’t have the typical Shark appearance, they actually look more like Suckerfish! Their brown exterior has a very sandpaper-like feel, and their body has two dorsal fins for extra movement.

Lemon Shark

This species has a very intimidating look to it, especially when its teeth are out. Lemon Sharks have an ability to camouflage well in the sand and can be often seen roaming around sandy bottoms.

Mako Shark

A charter fishing captain posing with a huge Mako Shark back at the dock in Ocean City
Photo courtesy of Fish Finder Adventures 2

This dangerous animal has made its name by being one of the fastest species on earth. Mako Sharks swim at intense speeds to lunge out of the water as they bite into their prey – and that can include humans!

Okay, that may have been more than a few, but there are just so many cool Shark species out there. But now onto the good stuff – how to get your hands on them!

Best Bait for Sharks

A closeup of a box full of fresh ballyhoo bait, some of which are headed with trolling lures

When a Shark is hungry, there’s a good chance it will eat anything available. These predators bite a range of baits from live to dead and cut bait, to artificials, as well. Let’s find out what really makes them tick, though.

Live bait is a great option for Shark fishing, and there are plenty of prey available. A few examples include ladyfish, mullet, threadfin, bonito, mackerel, jack, bluefish, ballyhoo, squid, and more. You can catch a lot of these by cast netting around beaches and bait piles. Bait shops also have a large variety for sale.

Sharks will eat dead bait or cut bait, too. It could be frozen from a grocery store package or it could be freshly dead. But ideally, anything that has a strong odor and may be leaking or has chunks of meat hanging out will work well.

For artificial lures, there are a few that can easily capture a Shark’s attention. Topwater, paddle tails, bucktails, spoons, and jerk baits are all good examples of lures for Shark fishing. The flashy movements and sound entice these beasts to eat.

Shark Fishing Rods and Reels

A view of three fishing rods set up in rod holders on a beach, ready for Shark fishing on a clear day in the Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of Gulf Coast Yaker’s Land Based (M)

Now you need something to put your bait on! To begin, you need your rod and reel. Shark fishing can be done with a variety of equipment, such as spinning, conventional, bait casing, electric, etc. As Sharks can range from two-digit weights to upwards of 2,000 lbs, the type of equipment you need will depend on what kind of Sharks you target.

For smaller Sharks, a medium-heavy action rod with a 5000 reel is a good start. If you’re going after larger Sharks, you should have extra-heavy rods with reels around the 10000 size. For braid, smaller setups do good with 20+ pounds, while larger ones require hundreds of yards of over 50 pounds.

Other Good Gear for Shark Fishing

Your leader is your best friend when it comes to gear for Shark fishing. The wrong leader will result in a quick and easy slice from the razor-sharp teeth of a Shark. You should have a fluorocarbon leader upwards of 60 pounds when fishing for smaller guys. For the larger ones, you’ll need a 200 lb leader. A lot of anglers also recommend using wire leaders to prevent the risk of the fish cutting the line.

Hooks are also important when it comes to your gear for Shark fishing because the incredible strength of these species allows them to easily bend hooks. It’s essential to have large, sturdy hooks, such as ones 8/0 and higher, to ensure a good hookset that won’t be bent out of shape.

One more thing to add… A dehooker is really beneficial when it comes to Shark fishing because it’s too dangerous to get your hands near a Shark’s mouth. With a dehooker, you can remove the hook from the Shark’s mouth at a distance. You can purchase them online or in person at plenty of outdoor and fishing stores.

When to Go Shark Fishing

One shirtless angler wearing a headlamp and one friend next to him, crouching in the surf on a Texas beach at night, posing behind a large Shark with the waters crashing in behind them
Photo courtesy of Just Doin It Shark Fishing Charter

Like most species, there are certain seasons and time periods that will produce better fishing results. Let’s take a look at some of the best times to go Shark fishing.

While water temperature varies depending on the Shark species you’re going after, most of them prefer warm temperatures. Therefore, summer is generally the most productive season for Shark fishing. You can find them sticking close to beaches, mangrove lines, offshore structures, and more.

They can bite throughout the day, but some of the most memorable times for Shark fishing are dawn, dusk, and late night. In fact, tons of anglers hang around the beaches in the wee hours, waiting for that monstrous Shark to bite.

As for the tide, high tide will be the best option. With higher water, Sharks can make their way closer inshore where all the bait hangs around. The flowing current ups your chance of locating and hooking up to some Sharks, as bait is flushed around and gets the Sharks fired up.

Best Shark Fishing Techniques

A man fishing from a beach in southern Texas on a a blustery day, with a long fishing rod bent as he casts out into the surf

So you know which gear you need, but how about utilizing it to land that dream Shark. Well, I’ll run you through some of the most popular methods to get your hands on some of the ocean’s toughest species…

  • Surf fishing for Sharks is quite the adventure. Typically, anglers use a kayak to pass sandbars and drop their line into the deeper waters. After heading back to shore, you sit around and wait until your line starts to take off. Once a Shark takes the bait – usually a large chunk of cut bait or a live one – a lengthy battle begins, in some cases even taking longer than an hour.
  • Freelining live bait is similar to surf fishing but from a boat. The depths can vary, as this technique is not limited to any specific area. All you really need to do is add a live bait to a circle hook and throw it out into the water. You can always add a sinker if you’d like but Sharks will bite whether it’s on the bottom or floating around in the middle. It’s the same process as surf fishing, as you sit and wait for the predator to come to you.
  • Trolling is commonly used in deep offshore waters. This method involves dragging bait behind a boat at a steady speed. The Sharks that are interested will chase the bait until they can lunge on it. Mako Sharks make quite the approach when they speed behind a bait and stretch their jaws to engulf their prey.

Where to Go Shark Fishing

A view from the beach towards the amusement park at Galveston at sunset, with the ferris wheel on the far left

The next step in learning how to fish for Sharks is identifying some hotspots. You can fish for Sharks both from shore and deep out in the ocean. They swim everywhere, including wrecks, reefs, beaches, piers, mangrove islands, estuaries, and even rivers for species like the Bull Shark.

However, here are some world-class fisheries for you to check out:

  • Florida Keys. The Keys are among the most impressive locations in the world for all things fishing. There are plenty of species of Sharks present here, both close to shore and in deep sea waters. Fish off the beach or with one of the many charter captains around, and make some Shark fishing memories.
  • Galveston, TX. Similar to Florida, Texas has tons of Shark fishing action. Galveston is a popular city in the fishing world that many anglers flock to in search of a variety of species. Shark fishing charters are ready for eager anglers, and the beaches provide opportunities for fishermen to hook up to some big Sharks.
  • San Diego, CA. Shark fishing is just as fun on the West Coast. Cities like San Diego are great for deep sea fishing for some large Shark species. Pier or beach fishing not only provides a scenic view, but it gives anglers fun memories by the water.
  • Port Philip Bay, Australia. It’s no secret that Australia has tons of large Sharks inhabiting its surrounding waters. Anglers have a scary good time when they come face to face with one of the world’s largest apex predators here.

Of course, there are plenty of other Shark hotspots around the world, but there are too many to name in this section! Wherever you are during Shark season, there’s a good chance of finding one at the end of your line!

Shark Fishing Rules and Regulations

The first and most basic rule of Shark fishing is to have a valid fishing license. Some Shark species also require a permit when fishing for them. This varies from state to state – and country to country – so keep an eye out for the regulations where you are.

Many Shark species are prohibited from being harvested or taken out of the water, although some are allowed. The ones that are able to be harvested may also have differing rules depending on the region. In Florida for example, the FWC has a page specifically for Shark harvesting, making it super convenient for anglers.

Shark Fishing: The Ultimate Fishing Experience

A fishing guide and two teenagers crouch and pose in the surf behind a large Bull Shark they caught on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Just Doin It Shark Fishing Charter

If you weren’t excited about going Shark fishing before, I sure hope you are now. With some of the tips I’ve outlined above, you’re ready to get out there and test your skills and strength. And don’t forget, there are plenty of spots out there to make your fishing dreams come true. Your next angling adventure awaits!

Have you ever been Shark fishing? What species did you catch? How long did the battle take? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

The post How to Go Shark Fishing: An Angler’s Guide  appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Caitlyn Gatrell
Title: How to Go Shark Fishing: An Angler’s Guide 
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Published Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2023 12:00:49 +0000

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