Shark fishing has become quite popular throughout Florida. Sharks are easy to target during the warmer months and can provide anglers with some exciting rod-bending action!
The one thing that get these fish to the boat is a good chum slick. Sharks have an incredible sense of smell and can detect the slightest scent in the water. Once they lock onto an odor they usually make their way to the source to investigate a possible meal. Chum blocks (store-bought or homemade), fish carcasses (kingfish, lady fish, jack crevalle) or cut-up bait in a sack are all great options to lure these predators close.
When the tide is weak or slack, there are a few techniques anglers can use to get the scent out. The first one is not to anchor; let the wind push your boat. Be sure to trim your motor up so the boat will turn side ways and catch more wind. If there is no wind, either, then I deploy the trolling motor and slowly troll. The idea of both these methods is to get the scent out.
There are a variety of baits that will work. Any cut bait will do the trick, but live baits also are productive. Mullet, large pin fish or ladyfish all work well if fished live, and I often cut the tail a bit so the fish will swim wounded and put scent in the water.
Light spinning tackle is a blast but it’s a bit of a gamble. If you hook “the big one” on this setup it’s like trying fly a kite in a hurricane, but when a two- or three-footer cooperates it’s a great fight. I prefer heavy spinning tackle for larger fish but conventional tackle is a viable option. When in doubt go with “the bigger the fish, the bigger the tackle.”
A 60-70 series spinning reel with good line capacity on a medium/heavy rod will handle most hook-ups. Sixty- to 80-pound braid, one to three feet of 100- to 120-pound steel leader, and a 6/0 to 8/0 circle hook is my preferred rig when targeting sharks. I also place a six- to eight-foot section of 60-pound monofilament leader between the steel leader and the braid to allow for stretch and give me a place to attach a balloon or cork. There are many sharks out there that are too powerful for this rig, but I find this package to handle most hook-ups.
Good luck out there and tight lines!
Capt. Keith Tomlinson runs Bulldog Fishin Charters out of Hernando Beach. Contact him at www.buldogfishin.com or (352)238-3581