Shark Fishing Tips
Sharks may not be hard to find, but big mako sharks and thresher sharks can certainly be harder to catch than blue sharks. Every tournament shark fishermen knows that the key to winning is to focus exclusively on techniques that target bigger sharks. Here are some tips that can make a big difference.
Live Bait for Sharks
Live bait can convince an otherwise finicky shark that it is time to eat. The two most popular live baits are bluefish and bunker (menhaden/pogies). Bunker are certainly easier to keep alive than bluefish simply because they are smaller and most live wells can keep them in kickin’ for the entire day. There are also small enough to drop deep under a 12-24oz sinker. Bluefish in the 3-7lb range also make good baits and are best fished 20-30ft under a balloon, or splashing on the surface beneath a kite. An effective two-hook rig consists of the front hook set just ahead of the dorsal and a second hook rubber-banded to the tail.
Pick the Right Fishing Spot
Hopefully you have information on a general area where you are planning to fish. Once you get there it is critical that you take the time to scout the area and look for any temperature breaks, bait concentrations, lobster pots, and bottom features. Stop the boat and be sure to get a good feel for the speed and direction of your drift and the current. Once you know your drift and current directions, position the boat to that your chum and boat pass over as many targets as possible. Novice anglers are so anxious to start fishing, that they rarely consider their drift and end up missing most of the features.
Many (probably most) anglers give little consideration to the quality of their chum. In the northeast, some chum providers make their chum using old and spoiled bait. If you have ever used freshly ground chum, you will be amazed at how much more effective it is. Fresh chum is nearly impossible to get, but frozen chum that was created from fresh baitfish is just as effective.
A single bucket of chum should be thawed in a large tub and diluted with 1-2 buckets of saltwater until it is the consistency of a thin soup. Use a ladle to establish a consistent unbroken slick. Remember that this is a scent trail and you are trying to create a virtual wall through the water column that will intercept crossing sharks and guide them to your baits.
If you hook a fish, be sure to keep chumming! Many anglers end up breaking their slicks while fighting fish and basically need to start from scratch once they start chumming again.
Thawed chunks of large finfish such as herring, mackerel, butterfish, and bunker should also be added to the slick. Do not mix the in with the chum. Carefully control the amount of chunks going in the water. Drop two or three pieces and then drop more when they are out of sight. This is similar to tuna chumming, but the quantity is much less because the chunks are only used to enhance the slick (not used for tuna fishing).
More Shark Resources
- Recommended Shark Tackle
- YouTube shark videos from Northeast Angling
- Northeast Angling Shark Episodes
- Shark Identification Guide
- NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) Shark Info
By Capt Andy LoCascio - Host of Northeast Angling TV Share your comments on the Northeast Angling Facebook page