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  1. Now that summer is upon us, the water will be warming up and the sharks will start to turn it on! Below is a bit of a guide I’ve put together for chasing sharks of various sizes. Ill run through the gear and baits for the size categories you would like to chase. This is just my knowledge and experience I’ve picked up over the years and I'm no self-titled expert. If you can learn something from this, then that’s great! Since I’ve never targeted BIG sharks (3m+) I won’t give any advice on that as I don’t have any experience with that. There is no magic combo, line class etc to target sharks, hence why this is a guide only! So, don’t take it as gospel. Also, I love sharks, I don’t want them culled or killed for fun. They are an important part of the eco-system, apex predators and very powerful animals, so treat them with the respect they deserve as they can do a lot of damage to you. Never underestimate them and always put your safety above all else. Ill run through how i would setup my gear for targeting different sized sharks. Under 1m These will be most people’s size to chase when first fishing for sharks. Majority of the time, these will be bull sharks caught in the estuaries. Don’t be fooled, these things will be in every estuary in SEQ so regardless of where you fish, there will more than likely be some hunting around. Some good places to try are the gold coast canals, Logan river, Brisbane river and even the dirty old Pine river. Any spinning reel up to a 4000 will do the job here. Although the smaller the reel, the more of a fight you will be in for. You can also go all the way up to 20lb main line in this category, it really depends on where you are fishing (tight mangroves, structure etc) but can also be caught on 6lb line if you take your time with it. My go to would be a 2500 reel with 10-15lb main line. Although i regularly use a 4000 reel with 20lb line which works just as well. Any rod will really do, but I prefer to use nothing over the 5-8kg rating, really depends on the reel I use. I’ve used 1-3kg rods, 3-5kg rods ad 5-8kg rods. All will work, but again, the lighter you go the more sport it will be. I like to use a leader of 50-80lb mono line (any cheap mono will do the trick). As a rough guide, I like to use about the length of the shark ill be targeting (around 1-1.2m). This is used just in case the shark wraps itself in the line or tail whips the line. You don’t want a 1m shark to tail whip 10lb main line…or it will all be over! Also, I like to put my sinker in the leader area to keep my baits on the bottom. You can also use a float to keep you bait higher in the water column, but I just prefer to keep it on the bottom. Just use a heavy enough sinker to keep the bait from rolling with the current. From the mono leader I then tie on a pre-made halco 20inch wire trace (60-100lb rated, depends what BCF have in stock) They also sell a short trace (12 inches from memory, but I wouldn’t go any less than 20inch). I do this purely because it is easy to do and once a hook is rusted or not sharp, I can simply unclip it and put a new hook on. Some people don’t like these as they believe the snap swivel on the end of this wire trace will pull/snap/undo. It’s never happened to me yet, so I can’t comment on that. You can buy traces online or make them yourself, but like I said above, sometimes the hook can snap, damage or rust out which renders the trace useless unless you cut it off and re-crimp it on. But if you’re talking about making your own, crimping etc then go for gold. For me, it’s just not needed for small sharks. Certainly, a good thing to know when chasing big sharks, just not here (again, just my opinion! If you want to make your own the go for it!) I just like convenience of pre-made halco traces and clipping on a brand-new circle hook every time! Speaking of hooks, I like to use between a 6/0 and 9/0 circle hook. Circle hooks really are great and generally ensure the shark swims away healthy. Plus, you don’t even need to strike with them! Just tighten the drag and slowly apply pressure to the hook and it will set perfectly in the corner of the jaw. Connecting the main line, leader and trace, any appropriate weight swivel will work. I like to use around the 10kg rated swivel. Might be a tad overkill but it does the job. Ill put a picture below to show what would be my “go to” setup. As for baits, they are a lot of options both live and dead. Live, just about anything you think could fit into a small bull sharks’ mouth. Mullet, whiting, bream, herring, catfish, trevally, bony bream. Just make sure whatever you use is of legal size! Dead baits, basically the same list as above, or you can use flesh baits too. But for me, the holy grail of baits is freshwater eel. Only need a small slab (about half the size of your iPhone as a guide). Pike eel works well too, but I much prefer freshwater eel. One good sized eel can provide up to about 20 baits! For most people that would be enough for a whole summer season. The beauty of a piece of eel compared to say a mullet flesh bait, is that eel will last a hell of a lot longer. Crabs and smaller fish will usually destroy dead or flesh baits. Eel tends to last a lot longer and isn’t easily eaten from the hook. It is a very tough meat and skin, perfect for shark bait! Also, just a bit more detail about setting the hooks/drag settings. This will cover all sizes of sharks and reel types. Set the drag loose so that when the shark picks the bait up, it can swim away freely and swallow that bait. You will want that line to come easily and resistance free from the reel. Let that run go for a little bit until you feel it has swallowed the bait (maybe 5-10 seconds for small sharks, depends on how fast is running. After you’ve caught a few, you will understand their initial runs better) Then slowly tighten that drag up to a hook set appropriate force. For spinning gear, I like to open the bail arm so the line can run freely away, then tighten the drag up, twist the spool with my hand to make sure it is tight enough then set the bail arm back over to set the hook. If you want to use a bait runner style reel (highly recommend) then just click it into gear and wind up the slack. Just make sure with the bait runner that you have that drag ready set where you want it. Lean back into the rod and feel that hook set. Don’t strike with a circle hook or you will pull the hook from its mouth. I cant tell you how many sharks I lost when first starting to fish for them just because I got too excited to tried to strike just because it was my natural reaction. Relax, don’t rush and let the circle hook do all the work. Summary for sharks under 1m Rod : Anything under 8kg. Ideally 3-5kg Reel : Anything under 4000 spin reel. Ideally 2500-3000. If your budget can stretch, go for a bait runner. They make it a lot easier. Line : 6-20lb main line. Ideally 10-15lbs. Leader : 1m of 50-80lbs mono. Ideally 50lbs Trace : Wire trace, 60-100lbs 50cm to 1m. Make your own or ready to go Halco 20inch trace Sinker : whatever size required to hold the bottom Hook : 6/0 to 9/0 circle hook. Ideally 8/0 1m to 1.2m I won’t delve too much into this except to say that follow everything from the sub 1 Meter guide, just go on the heavier size for everything. You will still land a 1 - 1.2m shark on a 2500 reel and 6lbs line, it will just require a lot more effort and patience. You will notice a fair weight difference between a 90cm bull shark and a 1.2m bull shark. They get fat fast! Just increase your bait size slightly and wire trace rating/length. For me, my 4000 reel with 20lbs main line, 50lb mono leader matched to a 100lb halco 20inch trace will catch anything from 70cm all the way up to 1.2m. I just like to cover all bases and not have too much gear. Baits will be the same, a big shark will take a small bait. I’ve caught a 1.2m bull shark on a live mullet no bigger than my thumb. This is a really fun size to catch on spinning gear. Summary for sharks 1m-1.2m Rod : Anything under 5-8kg. Ideally 5-8kg Reel : 3000 to 4000 reels Line : 15-20lb main line. Leader : 1m-1.5m of 50-80lbs mono. Ideally 80lbs Trace : Wire trace, 60lbs – 120lbs. The 20inch halco trace will do the job, but id be going a bit longer in this category, so id either make my own or buy one. Sinker : whatever size required to hold the bottom Hook : 6/0 to 12/0 circle hook. 1.2m to 1.5m Initially I had this in the same category above and classed anything in the 1-1.5m to be chased on the same gear as 1-1.2m gear. But thinking back to my previous catches, it really needs its own category. A 1.2-1.5m bull shark is a considerably bigger catch than a 1-1.2m model. They have a much greater girth and a good few extra kilos. So, when it comes to fighting them on spinning gear, a few extra kilos of weight to reel in is significant. You might land one on the gear above, but it will be a great fight an you will have done well to land it. Baits will again be the same, but just bigger again. For eel I use a slab about 20-30cm long with the single circle hook. For the pure sport of it, id still stick with spinning gear, but your smaller overhead gear would also do the job. The downside of overheads is really noticed for the land based anglers. Lobbing a long trace setup with 30cm piece of eel is much easier with a spinning outfit. Having said that, I still have my eye on a tld15 setup for this size shark, would be great from a boat. Summary for sharks 1.2m-1.5m Rod : 5-10kg would do the job Reel : 3000 to 5500 spinning reels. Small overheads like tld15 would also work well Line : 15-40lb main line. Leader : 1m-1.5m of 50-100lbs mono. Trace : Wire trace, 100lbs – 200lbs. The 20inch halco trace is just a little bit under gunned here. While it will still catch them, the chance for something going wrong here is just worth bumping the weight and length in my opinion. 1m minimum, 1.5-2m would be ideal. Sinker : whatever size required to hold the bottom Hook : 8/0 to 12/0 circle hook. 1.5m to 2.5m This is where things can start to get a bit more serious. This is where id leave behind the 4000 spin reel and go for a 950 spin fisher or tld25-tld50. People sometimes chuckle at the size of gear used here, but the main reason for me, is you don’t want to be under gunned and get smoked by something bigger than 2m. A 2m+ bull shark will take a bait intended for something smaller, so you don’t want to lose all your braid because you are under gunned. The bigger reel will give you a much greater line capacity and a fighting chance. But for now, let’s just discuss the 1.5m-2.5m sharks. The gear used to target this size is more catered to the upper end of the scale, where a smaller 1.5m shark is hooked, this gear will take care of it easily. A 2-2.5m bull shark will put up a great fight on this gear! These things can weigh easily over 50kg and up to 100-150kg for the big models, so yeah big gear is needed. Overkill on reels and line is a good thing in my opinion too, it just means you can get the shark in quicker which means a faster and healthier release. This size shark can be targeted from beaches (Bribie, Fraser, Redcliffe etc) local jetties (Sandgate, Woody Point, Urangan) or just about anywhere in Moreton Bay from a boat (though targeting shipping channels is a good place to start), mouth of the Brisbane river or anywhere in the river for that matter (I’ve seen 6ft bulls caught under the story bridge). You will need the bigger spin reels such as Penn 950 spinfishers or anything around the 10000 size. Although you cannot go past an overhead such as a TLD 25. We have pulled a few sharks on this sized reel with no dramas at all. In fact, we find them easier to use simply because of the lever drag to set hooks is so easy. You wouldn’t be out of place to also use 50w and 80w overhead reels for this size shark. Rod size is usually 6ft or under and in the 12-24kg category. Line class for the big spinning reels and overhead reels id suggest say starting at 40lb, and you can go all the way up to 80lbs. Id also suggest using braid as it has a much thinner diameter to mono meaning you can fit more of it on, and has zero stretch which is handy when trying to set hooks on a shark that is 100m+ away. I like to use wind on leaders connecting to the braid which range in size and length. I’d go for 80lb+ wind-on leader in whatever length you can get (5m+ as a guide). This will also act as a bit of a shock absorber due to braid having no stretch. A little stretch is a good thing, a lot is not! In this category, I make my own traces, which is cheaper than buying pre-made, and very rewarding. All you need is nylon coated wire in the 200lbs to 600lb area, crimps (make sure you buy the correct size crimps to match your nylon coated wire!!), crimping tool, swivel and hook. You can do away with the need for crimps and a crimping tool if you know how to splice the wire back onto itself to create a loop for the hook and swivel which can be a fiddly process. I crimp now purely because its faster. Trace length, I like to go at least 2m (size of the shark). Often ill make traces 4-5m long. The longer it is, the less likely the shark can wrap up in it up to your main line, which is a bad thing, also as mentioned before, got to avoid those tail whips! Good rule of thumb is going twice the length of the shark you want to catch in trace length. I like to go with the biggest rated swivel I can find. My local tackle shop has 184kg swivels. You can buy various sizes online; most will do the trick. For hook size, you could start at a 14/0 and go all the way up to 20/0. I like to use 16/0-18/0 circle hooks (again, only use circle hooks to ensure the hook can be removed easily!! This will make it safer for you, and the shark). Generally, due to the bait size, no sinker is required when fishing from a boat. But if land based, you will usually need a big weight to keep the bait from rolling in the current and taking heaps of line form your reel when in free spool. I use bricks or sandbags, depending on the current in the area I'm fishing. Might sound crazy, but I’ve had 10-15kg bags of sand roll with the current. Once you have put the hook through the bait, attach the brick or sandbag to your trace by tying some 30-50lbs mono onto the exposed hook (I like to go just under the barb) then tie onto the weight. The idea is that once the shark picks up the bait, its teeth will cut through the mono very easily when swimming away leaving the weight behind. This is known as a break-away system. A few meters (3+) of line in between the hook and weight is enough. You want that bait to be able to float around naturally in the water. I use a kayak to paddle my bait and weight out, once I drop the bait and weight into the water, ill set the drag heavy enough so no line peels out with the current, but also light enough so a shark can swim away with the bait easily enough so it feels little resistance. If a shark feels too much resistance, they may drop it and not come back. You want that shark to swim with it enough, so it swallows that bait. Once it has run enough, set that drag to strike, reel up any slack and once you feel weight, gently life that rod tip high and let the circle hook set in the corner of the jaw. The force of it swimming away when pinned in the jaw will be enough to set it. Once you’re certain its set, you can start to put some more hurt onto the shark. You will know when its hooked, it will feel like you’re hooked onto a train going the opposite direction. If fishing from a boat, same trace setup except no breakaway weight. You can float a bait out with a balloon. Hook an inflated balloon through the nipple just enough so it attached to the hook. But remember, you will want to be able to pop the balloon off easily. When it’s far enough out, “strike” to pop the balloon off and let the bait sink to the bottom, then set the drag as above. You can use a secondary reel to attach to the balloon more securely through the nipple to reel it back in after setting the bait, so you don’t pollute the ocean. If you are game, you can also shorten your wire trace and attach to a spinning reel setup. Often, I’ll have two big baits out the back of the boat and one that ill cast off the side of the boat, weirdly enough, this has been the rod to go of the most over the years. For both land based and from a boat, id highly recommend a harness and gimbal. Your back will tire very quickly when fighting a big shark. Plus, it takes some strain off your arms when you clip a harness to an overhead reel. When it comes to baits, it’s really the same as above, except much bigger. Whole eel or big slabs 50cm+ long. Whole mullet, whole tuna, whole mackerel, Whole sting ray. Depending on what size your chasing, you can also use half cuts of the baits mentioned above. Summary for sharks 1.5m-2.5m Rod : 12-24kg. Reel : Penn 950 Spinfisher or other spinning reels around the 10000 size. Overhead Reels such as TLD25, Penn Squall 50, 50w or 80w. Line : 40-80lb braid main line. Leader : 80lbs+ wind on leader of 5 meters or more Trace : Wire trace, 200lbs – 600lbs. 2 Meter trace if casting from a boat, other wise 4 meters is a safe length. Sinker : not usually needed from boat. Break away system to match the current in the area you’re fishing land based. Hook : 14/0 Circle hook as a base. Go all the way up to 20/0, depends on what size bait you’re using/ size shark you’re chasing. 16/0-18/0 is a good size to use. Handling sharks Always have your tools (pliers, tagging gear, de-hooker, knife) ready for when a shark is landed, you will want to get the hook out fast and get them back into the water. You can buy or make special shark de-hooking tools which put space between you and its mouth. The biggest rule for handling sharks is always put your safety first. Always be ready at a moment’s notice to keep away from those teeth. If you control the shark, you will be safe. For sharks around 1m, control them holding one hand on top of their head and one hand on the tail like below (grip with the hand on their head hard). If the shark starts to go nuts, you will have great control like this and can always point it away from anyone or yourself. Don’t be fooled, even little sharks are very strong! Never hold a shark with one hand, NEVER! They can bend over on themselves quite easily. You can also hold them with one hand underneath them right behind the pec fins, and the other hand on the tail. For the heavier and larger sharks, this is a safe way to handle them. I say safe loosely, always be ready to point that those teeth away from you if it decides to flip around in your hands. Otherwise, a good method for de-hooking a shark is to kneel on its pec fins with your knees and sit on top of the shark. This will control their head and tail making it near impossible for them to bend around on themselves and bite you. This can be used on quite large sharks as well as small sharks. Again, your safety is number one priority. I only have a photo doing this to a shovel nose, so I hope you get the idea of how to do it with a shark too. Below pictures also show how to hold the smaller sharks. I hope this guide has been of some help. Again, there is no golden way to do things. This is just how i target sharks, adjust to suit your own style and to where you fish. Happy and safe fishing!
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