Follow these techniques to practice the surf shark fishing methods used by experienced shark fishing anglers. This aspect of surf fishing (for sharks) is really thrilling.
This article is meant to introduce the highlights of sharking and is based on methods used to surf fish for sharks up to seven foot. Fishing for sharks at the surf line requires a crew of experienced shark handlers to land & release the shark once you get it to the edge of the beach.
The Shark Fishing Crew
Plan on setting up a crew. Shark fishing from the surf requires at least two experienced shark handlers. If your crew is inexperienced you should have three or four on your team. Going out with the same team each time will develop a synergy among the group so that each member knows exactly what to do at the right time. This is important. Shark fishing is a lot of fun but there are dangers to be aware of.
Shark Fishing Tackle & Gear
Although the sharks can be in just about any depth of water, you will probably be targeting water that is 8′ to 10′ deep. It’s not always possible to cast out to this depth. The shark anglers use a sit-on-top kayak to carry the bait to the targeted depth. Since the bait will usually be kayaked out, the surf rods do not need to be as long. Rods that are 5.5′ to 8′ will suffice.
Reels used for sharking vary. Some surf anglers have landed pretty big sharks on tackle that wasn’t designed for it. That being said, if you want a reel that will stand up to the big sharks on a regular basis, think about reels that get into the 80# class. Otherwise a decent quality reel rated for 50# test line will be adequate.
Spool up your reel with 200 – 300 yards plus the line needed to reach the targeted water depth. If your fishing 200 yards from shore you should have 400 – 500 yards of line spooled on your reel of 50# test minimum. If you can’t get this much line on your reel then think about going to braided line like Power Pro. You can easily get twice as much line on a reel using braided line instead of the lesser expensive monofilament.
Most likely you will want to invest in some type of fighting harness. A fighting harness will help you handle the fatigue during a long fight. Fighting harnesses vary in style and price. A visit to your local bait and tackle shop will give you a better idea what’s available.
Fresh bait is always better than frozen bait. Be sure to check the local regulations before selecting your bait. Regulations vary from state to state. Whiting, Mullet, Bluefish, Spanish Mackerel and Ladyfish make excellent bait for sharks. Catch your bait in the morning and keep it on ice for freshness. Size your bait to the hook size you are using. Larger fish can be used as cut bait. Hook sizes for sharks range from 10/0 to 20/0. Bigger bait translates into bigger sharks taken.
Shark rigs are better homemade. There are different setups that are preferred by shark anglers. I like to use 480# cable for my leaders. To make these you need stainless steel thimbles and crimp sleeves to attach hooks and swivels. A special tool is used to crimp the cable after it wraps around the thimble. The rig I like uses 18″ – 24″‘ of 480# hook leader attached to 6′- 8′ of 480# cable. Slide a snap swivel on the main leader (for the sinker to attach) before attaching a swivel on the end to tie off to the main line.
Use at least a 10/0 hook or you can make up different size hook rigs and keep them on hand depending on the bait you catch. Other wise use you can use cut bait on the 10/0 hooks if you have to.
Use only spider weights for sinkers 6oz to 8oz. Make them yourself if you can’t find them at the bait & tackle shops. Spider weights are important especially if you are using monofilament line. Monofilament line has a lot of stretch to it which makes setting the hook difficult. A spider weight grips the bottom and helps to set the hook when the shark picks up the bait.
If you plan on fishing for sharks your best bet is to get on a shark fishing crew with experienced shark anglers. Another option is to be a spectator at one of the shark tournaments where you can witness how the experienced anglers get it done. Shark fishing from the surf has to be the most exciting fishing experience you’ll ever get, bar none.
Randy Meyers is a surf angler who has been fishing the surf for over 30 years. He is the author of Surf Fishing – The quick Start Guide To This Exciting Sport. Randy owns and operates the surf fishing website Surf-Fishanybeach.com Look for Randy’s soon to be published new book “The Complete Guide to Shark Fishing From The Surf”. The book will be available as a download from his site.