There are several different ways to get a hold of some decent shark bait. The worst feeling in the world for a beach shark fisherman is showing up at the beach with all your brand new shark gear and not knowing if you’ll be able to catch shark bait. Here are the 3 best ways to find shark bait for you next sharking trip.
Catching Shark Bait
Using lightweight tackle or your spinning rod discussed in the Shark Fishing Gear section are perfect for fishing for shark bait. You’ll want to rig your line with a double drop leader. Basically it’s a 2 hook rig with a clip for a weight at the very bottom of the rig. This way when your fishing the weight is in the sand and your line is pulled tight, so the hooks are dangling in the water. Now if you get a bite you’ll see it on your pole instead just losing your bait. A good hook size for this rig really depends on what type of bait your using to catch your shark bait. For shrimp, squid, or fishbites you’ll want to use a good 2/0 hook. If you’re using mullet or other live or cut bait consider using a 3/0 or 4/0 hook. Generally speaking you’re going to catch much larger and gamier fish with this type of bait such as blue runners or jacks.
One other method to catching bait and/or shark bait is the cast net. Throwing a cast net really takes a little while to learn to throw, so don’t get frustrated. I tell anyone trying to learn to throw a cast net to stay out of the water. Practice dozens of throws in your backyard in the grass, and then before making your first throw in the water, practice in the sand. Once you can get a 5′ – 10′ range and the net opens up wide you’re ready to start hunting bait. A trained eye can see bait skimming just under the waters surface. A good pair of polarized sunglasses help a lot, but are not mandatory. You’ll see little “V”s on top of the water. You want to try to get in front of them and let them swim into your range. Stay very still and be patient. Live bait is the absolutely best way to catch perfect shark bait. Some also have had great luck blind cast netting in the water. I hope you’re in shape if you employ this method as it’s very tiring.
Begging for Shark Bait
There are loads of forums and fishing sites around where you may be able to find someone kind enough to supply you with extra shark bait. Lots of shark fishers catch loads of bait in a day and will freeze them. Fresh bait is always best but when you’re trying to increase your chances of catching a shark you want to have anything in the water.
Buying Shark Bait
I met a couple of guys that drove from Jacksonville to fish at my Ormond Beach spot. They were using a whole Jack Crevalle for bait. I asked them where in the world they were able to land such great shark bait and the responded with the Jacksonville Fishing Piers. Makes sense. There are people always fishing on those piers so if you can head down the day before and find a lucky fisherman who landed a nice piece of meat there’s no harm in offering him $5 or $10 for his catch. I’ve also been lucky and found whole bonito in a couple bait shops. Calling around to see if they stock this type of bait is best. One last place to try are the fishing docks. Lots of shark charter boats have stock piles of extra bait. If you’re lucky enough you might just be able to land some fresh shark bait.
The last topic I wanted to cover in this section of the Shark Fishing Guide was what species make the best shark bait. The following are the best shark bait to be had on the beaches.
I’m not totally sure the best place to catch Bonito as I’ve never caught one. I know tons of this fish are caught offshore I’m just not sure if they can be had from the beaches. I have seen these guys in the freezer at bait shops. Consider yourself lucky if you can use the bonito as shark bait.
Jacks can be had from the shore. These guys are pound for pound one of the funnest fish to catch. They’ll put up a great fight and then make terrific shark bait. Live mullet or other live bait are great for Jacks.
LadyFish are touted as mini-Tarpon and for a good reason. They jump like crazy and put up a great fight. Shrimp, FishBites, artificial lures, and live bait all work great for catching ladyfish.
I’ve had great luck on the Atlantic fishing for Blue Runners. Live or cut mullet seem to be their meal of choice. Puts up a pretty good fight.
Whiting primarily feast upon shrimp or sand fleas. The bull whiting are pretty fun to catch, but anything smaller can be tough to determine if you’ve even got a bite especially with the waves. These guys should be your last choice for shark bait. Something is always better than nothing.
I know the guys in Texas have much better luck finding stingrays in the gulf. I’ve fished for 5 years here in Florida and haven’t hooked on of these guys. Up in Hilton Head, SC I have hooked up with some very large stingrays. The intercoastal waters of central Florida are teeming with stingrays. I’ve used them as shark bait but with very little luck. I’ve read many reports of folks in TX catching monster sharks on whole rays.
Have a tip or see something I missed? Want to ask a question? Just drop a quick comment below and I get back to you before your next big shark fishing trip.