Catching Shark 101

We've tried to put together the most important things to remember if you want to catch sharks. We're in the Sport Fishing Capital of the World, and it's easy to forget that one of the world's most primary marine predators is in abundance in our waters. In some parts of the world they're so overfished they're in trouble, but we are rich in them. That said, be gentle, be respective, and be careful to successfully release all – or most – of the sharks you catch. Let's keep our waters rich and shark-fishing safe for us and the species.

Great white shark.

When to Find Sharks

In general, many of our coastal sharks, such as blacktip and spinner sharks, migrate south into Florida waters for the winter, and back up to more northern waters in the summer. Others, including hammerheads, bull, and even tiger sharks may come very close to shore or inshore during the spring for spawning. Many other species can be caught year round, including the inshore bonnethead shark.

Where to Catch Sharks

Sharks can be found in every body of water that has access from the ocean, but are most commonly found along the beaches, within deep channels inside the inlets and estuaries, and on near-shore and offshore reefs. Also consider piers – especially near the cleaning stations. They tend to sit there all year because of the fish meat and parts being dropped into the waters.

Tackle for Sharks

The tackle used for sharks should be heavy. Using light tackle can be fun, but remember we need to respect these apex predators, and fighting a shark for three hours on light tackle will lead to lead to an almost guaranteed dead shark after the release.

Spinning Tackle for Shark Fishing

A heavy spinning rod is excellent for catching sharks, especially off the beaches. On the beaches, you will be fighting the fish parallel to the shore, so you don’t have as much downward force as you do fishing from a boat. You can also work the drag easily on a spinning reel, not having to worry about snags and structures.

Conventional Tackle for Shark Fishing

Good in any situation for pulling up sharks, conventional rods are particularly useful off a boat or pier. Like large underwater tanks, sharks love to pull down and stay down. The leverage from a conventional setup is twice as much as a spinning setup, allowing you to muscle up the fish much quicker.

Conventional rod and reel shark fishing.

Flyrods for Shark Fishing

There probably aren’t too many anglers who think of a fly-rod when they hear the word “shark.” Fly fishing is very popular however targeting the blacktips and spinners busting schools of bait near the beaches. Use a heavy 12-weight rod, with an 80-pound tippet to secure the fish.

Baits for Sharks

We’ve all heard the cliché, “sharks can smell a drop of blood in miles of ocean.” In general, as long as you use an oily, smelly fish -- if there is a shark around -- you will be in luck. Good oily fish include bonita, Jack crevalle, bluefish, mullet, bluerunner, and Spanish mackerel.

Lures for Sharks

Artificial lures work well for sharks when you have clear water conditions, especially when chummed up for excitement. Any type of fish-imitating lure will work, including many soft baits, crankbaits, or bucktails.

The Online Fisherman

GHM logo