Shark's have on of the keenest sense of smells in the ocean and can sniff out a few drops of blood from miles away.
The best shark baits will generally be some kind of bait fish that the sharks are already feeding on locally.
It's not uncommon for sharks to repeated come right up to a bait they are not used to and tap it with there nose, circle it for a few minutes and then loose interest in it altogether.
Generally the oilier and smellier the better!
Without doubt the number one rule to follow when obtaining shark bait is that fresher is always better!
Preferably you should be catching your own, however this may not always be possible so you may end up having to purchase some from a bait and tackle store or another fisherman.
Possible sources of shark baits:
- Catch your own
- Bait and tackle shop
- Offer fishermen on a pier
- Offer charter boats that are finished their charter.
Sharks are scent hunters and the fresher the scent in the water the better. Oilier fish like mackerel are said to have a stronger scent.
But, not all shark fishing baits are created equal, you do not want any kind of bait that is too soft as smaller sharks will end up biting your bait off of the hook which can become very frustrating as the day wears on.
Best Shark Baits
1. Local Bait Fish
Local is always best, matching the hatch is an old saying that is rarely wrong especially when predatory fish are be targeted.
If you are new to the area then ask the locals what's in season and where. Your local bait and tackle shop is regularly one of the very best resources to ask at.
You'll mostly find bonito offshore and that is where big sharks love to hunt. When one a charter I'll mostly ask that we fish with bonito especially if they are plentiful in the area and sharks are already used to feeding on them.
Mackerel are pretty oily fish and give a great scent particularly when fresh. Most sharks at some time or another will have fed on mackerel so they are generally considered a very reliable shark bait especially when fishing from the shore or pier.
Hooking them through the eyes and butterflying the body open with a knife is an excellent tactic as the body then creates a real natural flutter as it moves through the water.
Cuda's are extremely smelly when cut and sharks are well used to eating them. Given that they are such a long fish you can usually get two separate baits out of the one fish.
If you have ever fished for amberjack then you may well have had your prized catch stolen from you right at the boat by a shark.
Shark fishing bait will always be a lot more successful if it is fresh and still has a lot of it's natural scent still on it.
You will usually find that frozen or any kind of processed fish will not retain the same amount of scent and oils that a freshly caught fish will.
This is why catching your own bait will generally be the superior option.
However, if you have a large local pier or docks with a lot of charter boats you can always try to buy some fresh bait from locals.
You can even do this the day before as one an overnight in a fridge will not lessen the quality too much.
Just make sure that you get the whole fish and that it has not been bled or cut in any way.
Also make sure that the is no blood coming from the gills as fish can lose a lot of blood if they have been hooked deep down in the throat and gills.
Always remember that fresher is better.
Frozen fish once thawed can be become a lot softer than if it was fresh and this can lead to it falling off the hook a lot easier especially if you are casting a large bait from the shore.
Given their size and power sharks are clearly some of the strongest and most aggressive fish you will ever likely catch on a rod and reel.
You really need to make sure that your shark fishing gear and tackle is up to the job.
What kind of rods and reels you use will depend on whether you are fishing from a boat of off of a pier or the beach.
The best shark fishing rods regardless of their length will need a strong backbone so should be rated at least 50 to 80 lbs.
The best shark reels need to match the type of setup you have chosen. For example a good surf casting outfit that is used for smaller shark species will be all but useless for larger species offshore and vice versa.
Always follow your local rules and regulations when it comes to the use of fish as bait.
Some anglers will always opt to use live bait when shark fishing even when it is prohibited by the local state laws.
Certain fish a specific times of the year are also banned from being used as shark baits.
If in doubt check your local states laws well in advance and be sure to note what species you can use and when they can and cannot be used.