The Atlantic Ocean offers diehard shark anglers a chance to land some phenomenal fish right from shore. The Southeast United States is filled with miles of beaches and coastline that are easily accessible and filled with numerous species of sharks.
Not everyone is able to afford the high cost of hiring a charter boat and captain to get offshore. Beach fishing allows you to get the joys of offshore fishing for a fraction of the cost and time investment. As long as you have the proper equipment, you can land sharks and do it all on your own time.
Throughout the article, we’ll provide information on what tackle to use, what type of sharks you can land and some of the best places you can find sharks.
Surf Fishing Tackle for Sharks
Shark fishing from shore isn’t a traditional style of fishing. It requires special surf fishing gear that’s capable of strong and aggressive fights from sharks. These fights can last quite a long time, so you want to make sure the gear you have is up for the challenge.
Setup & Leader/Line
Since most shark anglers choose to fish a Carolina Rig, you’ll want a long and heavy-duty leader and swivel. For a snap swivel, many anglers choose to use a 12/0 or 10/0. After the initial swivel, you’ll want around 50 to 60 feet of heavy (500 to 800 pound) monofilament.
After this mono setup, you’ll need a 3 to 6 foot steel leader. The steel leader gives you a better chance of keeping the shark attached. Their teeth and head shakes are extremely aggressive, so the steel leader gives you a great chance to keep them pinned.
For the rest of your line attached to your reel, you’ll want around 50 or 75 pound braid. This braid allows you to launch your casts and get them far out into the surf where the sharks like to stay.
You’ll want a fairly heavy duty hurricane style weight for your shark fishing setup. Most anglers choose between a 5 or 7 ounce. Using snap swivels can assist you if you need to change out the weight sizes. This way, you won’t have to completely undo all that you’ve done.
Hooks are more of a personal preference, but many anglers use an 18/0 to 24/0 long shank hook. These big game hooks are plenty strong and able to withstand the continuous pressure put on them by the sharks.
Rod and Reel
Most anglers will use a heavy-action spinning rod. The length of rod is up for debate, but somewhere between 8 feet and 12 feet is the general consensus. The most important thing to make sure of is that your rod is a heavy action. While snapping rods happens in shark fishing, the more you can do to prevent it, the better.
You’ll want at least a 4500 size reel when you’re surf fishing for sharks. This larger size will allow them to run without you having to worry about getting spooled.
Shark Fishing Bait
The final piece of your setup is bait. Make sure whatever you choose is plenty fresh and bloody. The more fluids and scent you can have attached to your bait, the better. Many anglers like to use baits like whiting, bonita, drum and even rays.
Whiting, bonita and drum are on the softer side, so make sure you check on them every once in a while. Rays are far tougher, so you don’t have to worry as much about them getting too soft. Plus, they’re able to freeze.
To properly release sharks and keep yourself safe, you’ll want work gloves, bolt cutters, a dehooker as well as a tail rope. All of these can be helpful when you’re trying to land the fish and keep yourself safe at the same time. Bolt cutters are necessary in case you need to cut the steel leader and release the shark.
The de-hooker allows you to remove the hook without having to get your hand close to the mouth of the shark.
The tail rope gives you the chance to grab the shark by the tail and pull it up on shore instead of having to grab your leader or line and pull it.
You’ll need something to get the bait in front of the sharks. Most anglers choose to use a kayak out to where they want the bait and drop it. Keep the bail of your reel open, so you can get out as far as you would like. First drop your weight and then the bait.
Shark Species You Can Catch From the Beach
The Southeast United States has a variety of sharks that are commonly caught by beach/surf anglers. They can grow to be several hundred pounds, so make sure you’re prepared to fight for an extended period of time.
When fishing for bull sharks, you can expect to land them in warm water that’s in the 70s. Plus, bull sharks spend time in inlets, on jetties and in estuaries. These sharks are some of the most beautiful species with their blunt noses and black tail. As the tide is changing, target bull sharks.
Hammerhead sharks are some of the largest sharks you can land from shore. They’re easy to identify due to the long, rectangular head. They require heavy equipment and will put up an extremely hard fight, so make sure you have other people with you to assist in fighting the hammerhead. These sharks migrate, so make sure you check with your local regulations to make sure you can target them.
Black Tip Sharks
Blacktip sharks are generally considered the most common type of shark to catch from shore. They are only 6 or 7 feet long, so you don’t need extremely heavy tackle to land them. They’ll put up a phenomenal fight, but they provide more action than some of the other sharks. You’ll be given a test, but they’re fairly manageable to land. Remember, black tip sharks have a white anal fin.
Nurse sharks aren’t overly large. You’ll generally catch them ranging from 3 to 5 feet long. Medium tackle is enough to properly land them. The Florida Keys are filled with nurse sharks, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for an easier shark fishing mission.
Other Shark Species
Other sharks you’ll find in the southeast are sandbar, lemon and sand tiger sharks.
Where to Surf Fish for Sharks
The Southeast United States is filled with countless great locations to fish for sharks from shore. If an area isn’t producing, don’t be afraid to move and try something a bit different.
The Florida Keys is easily considered one of the best fishing locations in the world. The high fish populations and varieties of methods you’re able to use make it hard to beat. Sanibel and Marco Island are a few of the places you should spend your time surf fishing for sharks. Make sure the beaches you access allow for shark fishing. Most do, but it’s important to make sure it’s legal.
Sarasota is a favorite shark fishing location for many surf anglers. Turtle Beach is the primary spot where surf anglers spend time, but there are other spots like Blackburn Point Park, Centennial Park as well as Manasota Beach that are continually producing sharks.
Tybee Island in Georgia
Savannah’s Beach on Tybee Island in Georgia is another hot bed for shark fishing in the Southeast United States. There is a massive fish population off of the island, so sharks are almost always around. Other places like Lazaretto Creek Pier, Fisherman’s Walk or Tybee Pier are other good access points.
Golden Isles in Georgia
The Golden Isles are an underrated place to fish in the southeast. It’s not as busy as many of the places in Florida. Jekyll Island and St. Simons Island both allow beach fishing, so start here and speak to the locals about some other popular spots.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Time of Year to Surf Fish for Sharks?
The spring and fall are the favorite times of year for anglers to target sharks. This is the time of year when most fish are migrating, so activity is a bit higher than the summer and winter. However, summer is generally still productive as long as you’re able to choose the proper time of day.
What Tide is Best for Surf Fishing for Sharks?
High tide is the best tide to surf fish for sharks. The deeper water allows sharks to get closer to shore and hunt for their prey. You’ll want to fish as the tide is rising because fish will continually move closer to shore.
What is the Best Time of Day to Surf Fish for Sharks?
Spend your time surf fishing for sharks during the late afternoon and into the night. Sharks take advantage of the low light and are more willing to move closer to shore in search of those fish that are feeding up close. It’s common to land sharks when it’s pitch black. Stay patient because as the light gets lower, sharks get more aggressive.
Landing Sharks on the Beach
The most important thing to remember when you’re fighting sharks is to get them reeled in as quickly as possible. They will fight to their death, so the faster you can get them in, the less tired they’ll be.
It’s also important to remember to keep steady pressure on the fish and whenever the shark swims towards you, reel as fast as you can. Whenever there’s any slack, you want to get things tight. This prevents you from having to horse in the shark the entire time.
Shark fishing from shore is something every angler should try in their lifetime. It’s a thrilling experience with guaranteed adrenaline rushes each time you target them. As long as you have the proper equipment and fish at the proper time of day, you have a chance to land a shark. They’re fairly predictable and always put up a great fight.