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Catching sharks on topwater may be the most exciting fishing in the world.

How to Catch Sharks on Topwater

06/04/2012
“Shark!”

That is what angler Jason Laughlin shouted as topwater offering meant for speckled trout was savaged by razor sharp teeth.

“We went out to catch trout and redfish and there were sharks all over the place feeding on the surface. Me and my friend Jimmy Owens figured we might as well have some fun so we started targeting the sharks on topwaters and it worked. To this day it was one of my best days on the water,” he said.

Laughlin tapped into the most extreme topwater action available to near- eshore anglers.

Sharks, particularly blacktips and their close cousin the spinner sharks will take a surface lure with vigor and put on extremely impressive displays on acrobatics arguably outdoing even tarpon.

The easiest spot to find sharks is around oil and gas platforms. Bring along some chum like menhaden oil or throw out chunks of pogey to attract the big fish. Canned jack mackerel also makes great chum and it is very inexpensive. All you have to do is punch holes in the can and put it in lingerie washing bag or fish basket tied off to the boat. Another economical chumming method involves taking a five-gallon bucket, punching it full of holes and rigging weights in the bottom. The bucket should be tied to the boat with enough rope to sink at least 10 feet down and fill it with fish guts, old shrimp, cut menhaden or any kind of smelly stuff. This will create a chum slick that will draw in sharks from all around.

If you want to get sharks to come to the surface to hit topwaters, try taking out a pail of wet sand or mud and live glass minnows or finger mullet. Take several of the baitfish, clump them up in the sand, and throw them overboard. The fish will escape at different depths and it will drive sharks crazy. Once they start surfacing you can skip the sand and just throw over the live bait to keep them surfaced.

The Walkie Talkie Low Pitch is perfect for these surface sharks due to its heavy-duty components and the low pitch sound that tends to draw strikes from far below the surface.

If the sharks are visible, simply pick your shark and throw a few feet in front of it. Let is sit a few seconds and then start working it back toward the boat. Many times, they will strike as soon as it hits the water. Surprisingly, they can be finicky at times and will only hit the plug if it is simply swam back to the boat without “walking the dog.” This might seem boring, but once a the shark hits and starts tail walking, boring is totally out of the equation.

Rig your plug on light steel leaders at least four feet long. Sharks can break the line simply by slapping it with their tails, and Spanish mackerel, which you are likely to catch as well, are terribly rough on monofilament. The leader will interfere with your ability to work the plug but in most cases the sharks do not mind.

Tackle-wise, going light for sharks does not require a vast repertoire of expensive gear. A seven-foot medium heavy casting rod rigged with braided line in the 40- to 50-pound class will handle most sharks.

The majority of sharks that strike surface plugs are the smaller ones in the 2- to 3-foot range, however, bigger ones will appear so you might want to be prepared to sweeten the pot for them a bit.

Have a rod rigged up with an A-Salt Popper and tip the back hook with cut bait. Bait-wise, any bloody cut fish will work. Probably the all-time best shark bait is cut chunks of jack crevalle or bonito. Both of these fish are extremely oily and will draw a shark strike quicker than just about anything else. If they are not available, mullet or croaker strips will suffice.

Rigs are not the only places to catch sharks in the summer. The shrimp season opens in the Gulf in July and at this point, the shark fishing reaches a fevered pitch. Shrimp boats both pulling and culling draw in sharks from all around.

Watch closely for culling shrimp boats by glassing the areas past the inlets. If you see a boat anchored or tied to a rig, then they are culling or are preparing to do so. At these locations you’re more likely to get into really big shark. Blacktips and spinners up to 6 feet long can be found around the shrimp boats, as well as other sharks like bulls and hammerheads.

Shrimp boats that are pulling will draw sharks as well, but these fish can be harder to catch on surface lures. The best methods for approaching them is to find feeding sharks and then throw out your own chum to draw them away from the chum line created by the shrimp boats. This is not always possible but it can be accomplished, especially if you can throw chunks of chum directly at sharks and capture their attention.

At this point, you might be wondering what to do with a shark once you catch it.

Most anglers release them, especially the larger ones, because sharks have low reproductive rates and putting the breeder fish back aids conservation. However, the smaller sharks are wonderful table fare.

If you decide to keep a shark, remember to kill it immediately. After the fish is dead, remove the head and tail and allow it to bleed off the side of the boat. Once the fish bleeds out, put it in an ice chest. Before cooking, marinate in milk for two to three hours. Watch for it to turn pink, drain and add fresh milk.

Deep-fried or grilled shark is delicious and blacktip is absolutely fantastic, and sharing it with friends and family is a great way to celebrate the incredible opportunity to catch them on topwaters.

Lurenet Team



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