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Beginner’s Guide to Shark Fishing

Shark Fishing Tackle

Deep sea fishing for sharks is a very exciting and thrilling  sport, mainly because your skills are thoroughly tested and you never know when you’re next big catch will be on the other end of the line. However, if you are not correctly equipped, you’ll have trouble tackling these challenging creatures. These are the essentials you need for a successful shark fishing trip.

Tackle and Gear

With rapid advancement in fish technology, you do not have to carry large cumbersome gear like before. Rods and reels are much smaller and lighter, yet stronger and more powerful than they were in the past.  Fishing lines, too, come with a very narrow diameter, which in turn makes for greater strength. Shark anglers use braided lines as they stretch less and can be loaded in large lengths. This can come in useful if the shark makes a run, and you don’t want to break your line. Having said that, make sure you have the right equipment that can withstand the heavy pull of the shark, especially if you’re targeting larger species.

Baits

Live bait, cut bait or anything oily like mackerel and bluefish are very tempting baits for the sharks. If there is blood and meat you will get the sharks biting. Make sure you use the right bait for the shark you are intending to catch, and also cast the line in the right manner. So they grab a hold of your bait and not the chum you put in the water.

Apparel

Whenever you are heading out to sea looking for sharks, make sure you have the right apparel. You need to wear a light, preferably long sleeve shirt, a hat, and sunglasses. This will not only protect you from the sun, but will keep the body cool as well.

Where to Fish for Shark

Finding a good spot for shark fishing in Florida is not hard at all. In fact, Florida has more sharks along the coast than any other state. Sharks are everywhere – inshore, offshore and sometimes even found in brackish waters. All sharks are opportunistic hunters that will just about eat anything they can swallow. You will find your shark where the shark bait is.

When on the sea, if you notice a lot of fish activity, like mullet or bait fish, that usually means there is a large predator like after them trying to look for a meal. You want to fish in places that are known for their fishing breeding grounds, because those are the places with better shark populations.

Shark Fishing Bait

Sharks have a keen sense of smell, so the more oily and bloody the bait is the better. For small sharks, using threadfin herring and live shrimp is best, while for the larger ones, try chunks of bonito, mackerel or mullet. The most important step towards successful shark fishing is using the correct bait and rigging. You can get good shark bait from a seafood distributor or at fish cleaning tables of returning charter boats.

The placement of the hook is the next important step. The hook should go in the center of the bait, about an inch inside the mouth, and exit at the top of the head. Once hooked, it will remain fixed there. Hooking live bait is a bit tricky, as the shark may just bite only a portion of it and not get your hook. A good technique is to cut the tail of the bait, to prevent them from wandering around.

Anglers also hang carcasses from a fish stringer at the back of the boat. Tossing some dead bait from the sides makes the slick even more exciting for the predators. This spurs the sharks to bite them aggressively. Once one starts eating, the rest will follow. Remember, each kind of shark has its own unique behaviors and feeding patterns, so every catch will require a different technique.

Shark Fishing Laws

Sharks have lower population levels than fish. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has trouble protecting their population while still allowing a fair amount of fishing. Sharks tend to grow at a slow rate, produce fewer offspring and mature slowly. All these biological factors, coupled with excessive hunting can seriously make an impact on the population numbers. Shark management and conservation has taken the form of certain laws like bans on finning, catch quotas and total trade bans.

Catch restrictions

Harvestable sharks have been divided into four groups. Group 1 and 2 are regulated by size limit, while group 3 sharks are not specifically regulated. The daily bag limit for group 1 and 2 is one shark per person per day, with a maximum of 2 sharks per vessel, irrespective of number of anglers. For group 3 the limit is 100 pounds or 2 fish, whichever is larger. Sharks listed in group 4 are totally prohibited from harvesting.

Gear requirements

Use of natural baits on multiple hooks is not allowed.  Sharks that are retained on board must be brought to the shore in their original condition with all body parts attached.

Catch and release

Certain methods have been adopted to increase shark survival rates. Many anglers use heavy tackle and a de-hooking device to release the shark once it is caught. While the first lessens fish exhaustion, the second is for the safe removal of hooks, which will cause minimum damage to the fish. Prohibited fish that die on line after being caught should be returned to the water.

Conclusion

Getting started to shark fishing is simple and can be a lot of fun. With over 5,500 miles of coastline in the US, there are plenty of places to catch a shark. By adopting the right tactics, one can enjoy catching these mighty predators in their natural habitat. Fishing everyday on the open water could become a routine. The key to success is to always keep in mind the specific needs and remain focused. Sharks are considered to be good targets for most fishermen. Novice anglers, especially, enjoy shark fishing because of the fight they put up.

Most people have a fearful apprehension of the sharks as man eaters, and many more are not even aware that shark fishing is even an option. This is far from the truth, as shark accidents are few and far between. With the right crew, right equipment, and a little prior knowledge, shark fishing can become a great past time for the whole family.

At Guide Guru, unleashing the outdoors is our commitment. Our sole aim is to act as a conduit between outdoor enthusiasts and the challenges in finding a safe, fun, relaxing environment to fish.  Check out our many guides that are experienced in shark fishing!

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