Shark Fishing: What You Need to Know

A shark is the most infamous predator of the sea. Due to their scary looks, many dark ocean films features sharks through the years.

It is unfair to name them as the monsters of the sea like the ‘Jaws’ movie. Yet there’s no denying that sharks will scare the hell out of a fisherman.

But nowadays, shark fishing has become famous among anglers. It is thrilling to watch a marlin shark skipping the water and breaks the surface close to the boat. The hunt for sharks can be nasty. But the anticipation is rewarding as the catch itself!

But take note that not all shark species are possible for recreational fishing. For example, no one would dare catch for a great white shark and have it on the boat. There are several shark species that recreational anglers can go after.

Thus, this article aims to explain how to fish for a shark. This will tackle the shark fishing methods, recommended baits, gears, and others.

Also, the article will introduce the various shark species for recreational fishing. Along the way, this will recommendations on shark hotspots in the United States.

Shark Fishing Methods


One of the widely used shark fishing methods is chumming. With this method, it will take advantage of the shark’s obsession with food plus its amazing ability to find it.

In this method, the angler will need to take a heap of dead fish and throw in the ocean. Then, set the bait on the float at a controlled depth. Let it drift until the shark come near it.

Some of the popular baits for chumming are the mackerel and menhaden. These are both available in packages at local tackle stores.

For the bait on the line, use the jackfish, bluefish, mullet, or tuna.

In chumming, always be alert in surfacing sharks. Beware for aggressive sharks like Shortfin Mako that takes a bite on the chum bag and not on the bait in the line.

Surf Fishing

Surf fishing is for anglers with a tough-heart. This method enables one to handle a shark by the hand without the safe barrier of a boat.

With the surf fishing, one will be on the kayak. While the rest of the team anglers are on the shore, ready to pin down the shark.

To do this, have the bait out hundreds of yards in the water. One angler will hold the rod or secure it fitly on the shore.

Then, one kayaker will paddle on the end of the line up to 100 to 500 yards out. He needs to paddle out until he reaches a depth of 10 feet.

Next, drop the bait and be sure that it has weights. Thereafter, paddle back in. When the weight is set, tighten the slack and be ready because there can be a strike anytime. Sharks bite fast and hard, so be ready anytime.

Now, when one wishes to unhook the shark, make sure to turn it first upside down. When they are on their back, they paralyze automatically. With this, there’s nothing to fear of any bites. However, to be safe, use a needle-nose plier to keep the hands away from the shark’s teeth.


For other shark species, trolling is recommended. Anglers who are shark fishing in North America and Atlantic find trolling to be a big help.

When one is fishing for thresher sharks, trolling is indeed effective. Unlike chumming, trolling works best in calm waters, and it is not an option to drift.

Also, when one is fishing in a limited time only, trolling can cover more water. It works best in currents, around wrecks, and even banks.

Meanwhile, some of the baits used for trolling are squid, mackerel, and tuna.

Tips in Shark Fishing

Best Time and Place to Find Sharks

As a general rule, coastal sharks like the spinner migrate in the south during winter. They get back at north during summer.

Meanwhile, other sharks like hammerheads, tigers, and bulls come closer to the shore for spawning during spring. But some species can be caught at any time of the year. Example of which is the inshore bonnethead shark.

On the other hand, sharks are commonly found within deep channels, inside estuaries and inlets, and along the beaches. Anglers can also find them at offshore and near-shore reefs.

They tend to stay at piers near the cleaning stations since it has plenty of fish meat there.

Tackles for the Sharks

The tackles to use for the sharks must be heavy. Although the use of the light tackles can be fun, always remember to respect the predators. Fighting a shark for more hours can cause its death after release.

A spinning tackle is good for catching sharks, especially off the beaches. When one is on the beach, he needs to fight the fish parallel to the shore. As such, there is no much downward force like one does when on a fishing boat.

Also, working the drag is easy on a spinning reel without worrying about the structures and snags.

Meanwhile, conventional tackles are good in any situation when one needs to pull up the sharks. It is very useful off the boat or the pier.

Indeed, sharks love to stay and pull down like gigantic underwater tanks. But with the conventional setup, the leverage is twice. It allows one to act stronger and quicker than the shark.

Spinning Rod and Reel

Depending on the area where one wishes to fish, a 7 to a 10-foot heavy spinning rod that acts fast is best. With the heavy rods, there can be enough backbone for fishing the sharks. Also, it will enable various engaging hook sets. Example of which is the Shakespeare Ugly Piece Spinning Rod.

Meanwhile, in using a spinning reel, opt for a reel which is rated for 40 to 50-pound test line. One product to try is the Daiwa Salt Water Spinning Reel.

Also, choose a spinning reel with a lower-gear ration. With this, the spool will revolve slowly whenever the handle is cranked. Unlike other products, this will give the anglers more power. Try the Penn 7000 Fierce Spinning Reel.

Conventional Tackles

The conventional tackle allows an angler to have more leverage versus spinning tackle. This is especially true when targeting the sharks from the pier, boat, or structures that can lead to break-offs. With the physics of rod and reel setup, it gives more advantage in catching the sharks.

The perfect conventional rod and reel for sharks are the 7 to 10-foot casting rod. One example is the Tsunami Trophy Spinning Rod. Also, opt for a reel which is rated for 40 to 50-pound test line. Try the Penn Squall Level Wind Reel.

Fly Fishing Tackles

For nearshore species like the spinner, blacktip, and bonnethead sharks, try fly fishing. In inshore bonnetheads near the flats, use an 8 to 10 weight fly rod setup. However, be sure to use a heavier tippet. Go for 80 pounds in using those teeth.

For sharks, select the heavy 12-weight rod. Example of which is the St. Croix Legend Fly Rod. Also, one needs to have a fly reel which can match a 12-weight rod plus heavy line.


In the majority, sharks can be effectively caught using natural bait. They are opportunistic feeders and can eat anything that fits in their mouth.

But for clear water conditions, one can also use an artificial lure. In general, any type of lure that imitates the fishes works best. Examples of which are crankbaits, soft baits, and bucktails. One can also use the Silver or Striped mullet. Others can have the large shiny fish like the Blue runner.

Indeed, this will work best in catching large sharks swimming around a school of baitfish.

Meanwhile for inshore lures, one can use fish and crabs. These lures are effective for catching Bull sharks, Lemon sharks, Blacktip sharks, and Bonnethead sharks.


For shark fishing, the best option is the monofilament. Other than other lines, the monofilament is much more abrasion-resistant. With this, it is more solid versus braid. Furthermore, whenever the line is dragged over rocks and shells, it can definitely last longer.

Also, monofilament has more stretch which allows one to absorb the sudden shock. The skin of the shark is sharp and rough. With the advantage offered by monofilament, one can surely catch a shark.

Braided Fishing Line

Don’t ever think that the braided fishing line has no place at all in shark fishing. With its thin diameter, surely, this can get to smaller reels and get the right pound test to make the trick.

Also, with the braided fishing line, one can get to 500 yards of 50-pound braid, unlike the monofilament. However, this type of line is pricey versus the monofilament product. Yet, it is still useful when necessary.

Single Strand Wire

The Single Strand Wire is an affordable option, and it is great for big sharks. It is a single piece of wire that can range from 30 pounds to 400 pounds.

However, this is only for single use too. When the shark bites it, then it is done. It can easily beat up and bend which is due to the cheap cost.

49-Strand Wire

The 49-strand wire is 7 strands of 7 little strands of wire that are perfectly wrapped together. This product offers flexibility even with continuous usage. Even if the shark grabs the wire, one can use it on repeat.

This type of strand is recommended for medium-sized sharks which are 100-300 pound class.

Shark Species

Again, there are limited species of sharks which are suitable for angling. Here are some of them:

Blue Shark

In North America, anglers’ favorite target is the blue shark. One can find it anywhere, and people know it as the most aggressive shark.

Meanwhile, this shark boasts a brilliant colored appearance. The large teeth are saber-shaped. Also, the body is elongated with long pectoral fins.

Like other shark species, one can catch the blue sharks through chumming with dead or live baits.

Great Hammerhead

The Hammerheads belong to the species of hard fighters. With its size, it will try to overpower the angler once caught.

The head of the shark has a t-shaped appeared with one eye on each side. Some hammerheads can grow as long as 20 feet. However, some can only grow not more than 15 feet.

Hammerheads like stingrays, small fishes, and other crustaceans. One can catch it through drifting and slow trolling.

Shortfin Mako Shark

The Shortfin Mako is the primary choice of the shark anglers based in North America. This species grows big and become a good fighter. Their flesh makes a good meal, however, authorities advised its release after the catch to help in growing their population.

This shark’s body is elongated yet stout. It has a pointed and long snout. There are large pectoral and dorsal fins, yet the anal and second dorsal fins are small. Also, its color is deep blue with dark gray above and white underneath. At the base of the pectorals, one can find a black spot.

The Mako can leap as high as 30 feet. They will shake, roll, dive, and charge the boat once caught. As such, it is best to fish with caution and prepare for the power of the shark.

Thresher Shark

Several species of the thresher shark are in the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean. Although they prefer the coastal waters, one can find it at a depth of around 1,500 feet.

They prefer being in solitude, however, some people can find them in groups especially when a school of fish is nearby.

Their body is elongated just like the mako. However, their snout is crescent-shaped and short. One distinctive feature of the Thresher is the long tail which is almost the same size as the body.

They love eating on small fishes like the mackerel, anchovies, and sardines. In thresher fishing, it is best to try chumming.


In a nutshell, although sharks are popular as a threat by many people around the world, it still plays a big role in the ecosystem. Its life mirrors the healthy aquatic system we have. With sharks, we can say that the ocean is still alive and surviving despite people’s abuse.

Shark fishing has been the latest activity of many anglers. However, we should have a proper caution to protect one’s well-being as well as the shark’s life too.

All credit for these great tips goes to Fishing Sun.

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