Sharks don’t obtain no respect. Sure, they’re offered their an are when they show up near swimmers in the water, however a respect that quantities to, “I’d be happy to view you dead,” does no bode well for the permanent sustainability of an entire class within the animal kingdom.

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Understanding the require for shark conservation have the right to actually begin with catching them (and releasing them safely earlier into the ocean). It’s favor the old conservationist mantra that we will just conserve what we love, and also we will only love what us understand. Knowledge sharks starts with up-close interaction.

In most coastal areas, sharks room a common by-catch for recreational and commercial anglers targeting different fish species. Too many sharks dice unnecessarily out of fear, ignorance or absence of knowledge about how to handle them. On the other hand, plenty of recreational fishermen get ‘hooked’ top top shark fishing due to the fact that there’s just nothing rather in the s that pulls prefer a 12-foot tiger shark. Both teams can benefit from knowing just how to save the security of sharks in mind as they seek the hobby and profession they love.

Catching a shark is absolutely an tremendous experience; as I discovered in the study for this story, also a four-foot sandbar shark provides plenty that thrills ~ above its means to the boat. As soon as you’ve done it, you may never look at other types of fishing the same means again. 

Whether you’re fishing native the coast or a boat, this is what you need to understand to intentionally catch a shark:

Get the ideal Bait

Menhaden make an excellent cut bait for shark fishing.

Fishing for sharks actually begins with fishing for whiting, bluefish, or one more smaller varieties of bait fish.

“Whenever i’m going after huge fish, even if it is it’s sharks or tarpon, I want to know what lock feeding on,” states Newman Lawrence, an amateur fisherman in Charleston, S.C. (He’s likewise my brother, yet he to know what he’s doing, so I like to fish v him.)

The logic is simple: fish because that sharks with the same varieties they’re eat in the spot the you’re fishing. Fresh bait is important!

If she in a boat, look because that birds fishing in one clustered area. Customs your watercraft into the vicinity and look for ripples from colleges of tiny fish. Litter your actors net over wherein you think fish are, let the sink come the bottom, and pull increase a fresh load of your bait.

Angler Newman Lawrence prepares to cast for bait.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out choose that. On our research trip, high tides had actually pushed the bait fish into the marsh grass, so us anchored close to the shoreline and also fished through an ultralight rod (a 5’6” Shimano Convergence) utilizing chunks of shrimp to catch a few whiting. (Pro tip: Peel the shrimp you use for bait. They’ll host to the hook better.)

After thirty minutes, with 3 whiting and a pinfish in the boat’s livewell, we headed the end to ours shark spot simply north of Edisto Island, S.C.

Once anchored, we threw the cast net a couple of more times and also caught about a dozen menhaden. Sharks, clock out.

Perfect her Tackle

To floor a shark, you’ll need tackle that have the right to withstand rows of razor-sharp teeth and also that won’t break once a shark go on a run.

Rod Holder

A item of PVC makes a good rod holder. Turn it and work it into the sand, developing suction through your mouth to traction sand up into the holder and also push it deeper into the ground.

Shark fishing isn’t favor cane pole pond fishing. Use your boat’s pole holders, or ~ above the beach, sink a PVC rod holder deep into the sand. As soon as your bait is cast, you’ll leave it and wait till the line goes screaming.

Line and Leader

If she fishing in the surf, a “sputnik” sinker can aid hold her bait in place, rather than drifting with the existing or washing earlier onto shore.

For sharks up to about 7 feet, a 60 lb. Braided line is enough for your main line. But, you’ll additionally need around a rod’s length of solid monofilament heat at the end, before your leader, to absorb shock together the shark runs, or if friend hook a species like blacktip that go airborne and also leap native the water. Finally, usage at least two feet of wire leader at the end. A shark have the right to thrash roughly or swallow enough line to bite through even the thickest monofilament.


It’s a “match the hatch” game when picking hooks. Very first of all, always use circle hooks — this will aid assure the the shark is hooked in the mouth, no in the stomach. Friend don’t arrangement to remove a hook native a shark’s stomach, carry out you? save your hand safe, and also your shark alive, by utilizing circle hooks. Plus, they job-related better. V this variety, the shark will set the hook simply by pulling away.

For many sharks, a 6 come 10 aught one hook will execute the trick. When rigging increase a live whiting, one method is to set up 2 hooks, with one v the whiting’s mouth and also another the runs v its ago and trails behind. With cut bait (the head or tail the a menhaden or whiting, for example) one hook is all you need.


A rigged whiting.

Rod and Reel


In general, obtain a 6,000 come 8,000 size spinner reel, and also a 10-12-foot rod. EBay has actually tons that affordable options, and also high end models. A Penn fight 6000 is a suitable starter reel. As soon as you seriously commit, you can graduate to Everol reels.

If you’re new to the sport, remember the fishing started as a poor man’s pastime, and it still deserve to be. The course, if you desire to drive a Cadillac, that available, but you can still record a large ol’ shark v a Chevy.

Land a Shark

The writer reels in a sandbar shark.

One that the greatest mistakes beach anglers make is come wade out to chest-level water and also then cast their bait past the surf. Choose it or not, the sharks space in the surf, whereby you’d commonly be swimming. Actors right there.

If you targeting large sharks (6 feet or longer), however, they’ll hang out whereby the shore drops off, just beyond the waves. The easiest method to obtain your bait over there is to kayak out past the breakers, drop your bait, and then kayak earlier to shore.

Now comes the fun component — your an initial bite. You’ll understand when a shark hits, because your rod tip will bend practically to the water and your reel will certainly scream. After friend cast, set your drag just loose enough the a shark can take your bait and run with it. Friend don’t desire him to immediately know he’s hooked.

Once their run allows up for a second, tighten your drag. Provide a slight tug (the circle hook should have already set itself). Now they know they’re hooked, and they’ll do a second run.

The video game of tug-of-war begins. Don’t sirloin it. Landing a large shark have the right to take well over an hour. As soon as the shark offers you part slack, reel away. Store your rod guideline up, and when you feeling the opportunity, lower it slightly and also reel in part line.

Inch the shark closer to the coast or to your boat.

Now because that a couple considerations certain to boat and also beach fishing respectively:

A sandbar shark, recorded from a watercraft by the author and his brother, and released while quiet in the water.

Make a decision — do you require to carry this fish onto her boat, or room you happy to release them without removing them from the water? The latter will dramatically improve their opportunity of survival, uneven you’re incredibly fast in bringing lock onto the boat.


Did we mention a cardinal ascendancy of shark fishing yet? never fish alone. As soon as your shark increase in the shallow water, you’ll require to host onto the rod when your companion approaches the shark in the water. If the a large guy, use a rope around their tail come gently pull it to the shore. If the a small shark, master their tail or pectoral fin (not your gills!) and also pull the backwards to shore.

Always keep the shark’s mouth dealing with the s so that they can proceed breathing with assist from tide or the slightly deeper water. Friend don’t should pull them every the means onto hard sand. Leaving them in the soft sand where waves continue to splash over them, or in sufficient water the they have the right to breathe (but in a location that you can safely eliminate the hook). All the while, remember the sharks have actually teeth, and also they can bite you. Be careful.

Release a Shark


Here’s preeminence number two: once you catch a shark, you have actually two minutes through it, or less. Big sharks only provide birth every few years, and also letting one dice unnecessarily is a destructive loss come the ecosystem.

Before you walk shark fishing, put the following items in your tackle box:Dehooker (or pliers)Wire cutters (if you targeting tiny sharks)Bolt cutters (if you’re making use of 10 aught hooks or larger)

Once you’ve caught a shark, your number one priority is come ensure the survival and safe return to the ocean. If you going come fish because that sharks, you need to have actually the best tools. In short, be prepared in advance, and in the moments prior to landing her shark.

Give yourself ten seconds to remove the hook, either using pliers because that a little shark, or through a dehooker device (they’re cheap — buy one). If girlfriend can’t remove the hook in ten seconds, snap the in fifty percent with wire cutters or bolt cutters. You can afford to lose your hook — don’t risk a shark’s life.

Now, you have about twenty secs to take it photos. That’s not necessarily enough time for everyone in her crew to gain their own photo holding the shark. Gain a team shot, if necessary. Even better, take images with the shark in the water. Elevator its jaw from behind because that a couple of seconds, and then acquire it earlier into the water.

On the beach, press the shark earlier into the ocean, face first, till it’s deep sufficient to swim off on its own. High five your friends and drink a beer. You caught a shark and set it free.

Other Considerations

Before walk shark fishing, research the different species you’re most likely to catch. Yes, some species are abundant and edible, favor the blacktip, yet most types should be released.Choose a location wisely. A overfilled beach is not the place to fish for sharks! Parents will certainly not be dazzling at a seven-foot lemon shark on the beach where their children are swimming, even if friend (accurately) point out the you didn’t tempt the shark to the spot, yet only gotten rid of it with their children’s safety in mind. And also besides, inlets and estuaries are regularly the best places to find sharks, so have tendency toward these areas, wherein currents might be stronger and people are much less likely to swim.Watch conditions. Choose any form of fishing, some days are far better than others for catching sharks, and also bad weather have the right to move in quickly.Rain regularly pushes sharks contempt offshore, away from the freshwater draining into the surf zone, so rainy days deserve to be less fertile when fishing indigenous the beach.Look for transforms in barometric pressure, in either direction. Big changes have the right to signal a bite.Low wind and also surf make your task easier, specifically if you plan to kayak out to drop bait.Watch the moon. Many shark fishermen case that the days about a brand-new moon space the most productive. Sharks deserve to be caught any kind of time of day, although plenty of of the large bites tend to happen when anglers are being patient in ~ night.Shark fishing is (sort of) seasonal. They often tend to eat more in the summer, and it’s a totality lot more pleasant for humans gaining wet in the process when the water no frigid.All that said, that is also feasible to ignore conditions completely. Sharks are always hungry, and you can record them any type of time.

Be a Conservationist

Shark fishing has its detractors. Because that every five human being who walk by top top the beach and also ask, “Catching anything? Sharks? Cool!” over there will always be one who thinks it’s an awful, terrible thing to do. Perhaps they’ve read around the terrible shark fin industry in Asia, and also are justifiably concerned about the wellness of the ocean’s all at once shark population. Or maybe they’re just concerned around the sharks feeling pain (most research study notes that sharks and other fish don’t in reality feel pain at all).

Your ideal defense is knowledge.

“People need to know what’s out there come respect and protect it.” capturing sharks is one means to perform that.

“To part extent, any kind of fishing walk harm,” that concedes. “Everything we perform as humans has an impact.”

When done properly and also in a manner that ensures the ongoing wellbeing of the animal, shark fishing is no unlike any other type of catch-and-release fishing.

If you execute take up shark fishing in earnest, take into consideration participating in NOAA’s shark tagging program. The info NOAA gathers contributes to catch limits and also regulations set for advertisement fishermen, and is designed to protect sharks and also at-risk species. By including a tag to the fish the you catch, friend can include to our expertise of shark populations and migration, helping to protect these fish because that future generations.

Now obtain out there, be safe, and also have fun. Check out you top top the water.

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Stratton Lawrence is a writer based in Folly Beach, S.C., wherein he consistently surfs, kayaks and also fishes. When it rains, the ducks within to blog about his outdoor pursuits for, whereby he regularly tons up on gear. To watch eBay’s an option of fishing reels, including choices suitable for capturing sharks, click here. Follow Stratton ~ above Google+.