Welcome to NewEnglandSharks.com
Shark fishing advice for boaters.
Have onboard a minimum of 3 people. Before you go fishing find out what the latest Federal
and State shark regulations are. They change from year to year. As of this writing, in our New
England area, basking, whites, sandbar, dusky and sandtigers are protected. Release them unharmed.
There are also regs on size and what you can keep.
The size and bulk of many sharks being brought to the boat, and the fact you will sometimes be in
rough seas with slippery decks; can produce situations where falling, or being pulled overboard is a
possibility. For safety reasons I recommend you go shark fishing with a minimum of 3 people onboard.
Most New England shark fishing is done in less than 600 feet of water. (more than likely 300 feet or
less) With 500 yds. of line on the reel, a straight down dive by a shark won't empty the spool. Runs
over 300 yds on the surface are rare if the drag is set at 15 lbs. So 500yds should be sufficient.
Reels- My recommendation based on experience, is use
a reel with a decent drag system that will hold 500 yds.
of 50 -60lb. test mono line. Reels vary in cost. The star
drag Penn 114s and 115s are under $200. The more
expensive reels like the lever drag Shimano Tiagra 50s ,
Penn 50s and other gold reels are in the 600 dollar range..
Rods- Use 6-7'fiberglass rods with a roller tip. You don't need rollers all the way. If you are going
to use wind-on wire leaders make sure they will pass through the rod tip and eyes. Since wire will be
coming through the eyes use carbuloy guides. Avoid graphite rods, they are not reliable, and won't
take the beating a fiberglass rod will. Make sure your rod has a metal, or solid fiberglass butt and not
just hypalon over fiberglass. Check out the acid wrap rods where the eyes start off conventional on
top, and rotate under the rod and end up with the last few eyes under the rod. They use a specialized
roller tip since it will be upside down. This makes the rod more stable, and much easier to handle
while fighting a fish. This type of rod is also called a spiral wrap or a Robert's wrap.
Drag setting - In the strike position, set the drag based on 0.3 times the reel class, or 0.3
times the line test, whichever is lower. For example: an overlined reel like a 50 class reel with 100 lb.
test braid=0.3x50 =15lbs. drag. An underlined reel such as a 50 class reel with 30lb test line =
Use a scale to set your drag with the rod in the bent position, not pointed at the scale.
Wind-On Leaders - Probably the safest shark fishing innovation to come along is the
braided wire wind- on leader. Get them and use them. They will allow you to bring a shark within a few
feet of the rod tip. Otherwise, using a conventional wire leader requires a wireman to hand haul in the
wire. A store bought made up cable wind-on leader of 275 - 480 lb test cable will cost about $25.
To this wind -on use 4-6 feet of #14-#18 solid-wire to the hook. Make sure your rod eyes are large
enough to pass a wind- on. Use all rollers, or use a roller tip with carbuloy eyes.
Use 4/0 snap and barrel swivels.
Hooks- We fish blue sharks with mustad #3407 - 12/0 hooks. Buy a box of 100 ($60) to get
started. These are adequate and inexpensive. If you are a gorilla and use heavier than 50 class gear,
or use high drag settings, I would suggest you get a 3407 SSD hook, since it is much stronger than the
lighter 3407. You can straighten out a regular 3407 when you use 80 class gear with a high drag
setting. For mako rigs, get several mustad 10/0 -12/0 # 7731 hooks or use the heavier #3407 SSDs.
Keep it simple, fish single hooks and a strip of bait. Keep the hook point fully exposed, don't hide it in
the bait. Only penetrate the bait once with the hook. Use tough skinned fish fillets like bluefish.
Wire cutters - Buy two pairs of cable cutters; and keep them
rust free and lubricated. When you have your hand near a shark's
teeth and want to cut the wire, the cutters have to do it then, not 2 or 3
squeezes later. Or worse yet, jam on the wire and not cut it.
Gaffs - Most sharks will be brought to the boat and cut free, but if you need to gaff a record shark,
or an IGFA rules tournament entry, you should use a flying gaff, and then a straight handled gaff. A
flying gaff consists of a gaff hook with attached rope, and a detachable handle to guide it . After the
gaff hook is pulled into the shark, the rigid handle pulls free of the gaff hook, and you hang onto a
rope attached to the gaff hook to control a thrashing shark. Flying gaffs are dangerous to use,
because the hook may pull loose from the shark and snap back. Pay attention. An 8 inch gap flying
gaff hook with handle costs about $175. You will also need a 6 inch gap straight gaff ($75)
Tail Ropes - A tailer, ($75) is easier to use to tail rope a shark, than a regular tail rope. This
device has a handle with a flexible cable and a strong line attached. The line is looped back on the
cable to the handle and forms a D shaped flexible loop. It is slid over the sharks tail. When you pull
back, the cable slides down and tightens around the tail and you hang on to the handle. There is also a
flying tailer that works the same way as a flying gaff. The cable loop pulls free from the handle and is
secured with a rope. Most sharkers just use a rope for tail roping. On your tail rope put a loop at both
ends. That way whatever way you go through the loop you will have a loop to hang onto. If a shark
gets rambunctious, a loop allows another person to help pull on the tail rope, and it is easier to slip a
loop over a cleat than tie to it if the fish gets too hard to handle.
Harpoon Dart Setup - Not IGFA approved, and not allowed in many shark tournaments, a
harpoon dart is much safer and easier to put into a shark than a Fly Gaff. Make sure everyone is
clear of the attached line, that may get taken out of the cockpit if the sharks runs off. The pole, nose
cone, shaft and dart are about $100 if store bought. Less expensive if you make your own. The
harpoon dart shafts vary in length from about 18- 22 inches. Make sure any knots on the line from the
dart are beyond the shaft length, so that you don't have to drive a knot into the fish along with the
dart. I would have at least 600 feet of handline in a basket attached to the dart. More, if you have it.
Fighting belt and harness. - The fighting belt,
(gimbal belt) is a must. Most shark fishing boats have at
least 2 good fighting belts with plenty of surface area to
distribute the pressure. If you are using 50 lb. test line with
the drag at 12-15 lb. the surface area to distribute the
pressure is not as important as when you are using 80 lb.
gear with the drag at 22- 24 lbs. Some models have a
pivoting socket gimbal- I prefer that setup. Have onboard
at least one back harness for those stubborn sharks.
Use cable, avoid bite offs
Put chum in water. Get
direction of boat drift.
Slowly drag chum in that
diection about a mile or so.
Keep your baits down at least 12 feet - shallower than that, the shearwater birds will dive down
and get it. Keep your baits well apart to avoid a shark gettting 2 baits at once.
put out baits and start shark fishing and
jigging the bottom for cod/haddock etc.
CHUM--You want to
dispense frozen ground up
fish chum continuously at a
minimum of 1 gal per hour.
In tournaments there is a
tendency to chum heavily,
more like 3 gals per hour.
If you are running short on
chum, and you have jigged up
some legal size groundfish,
put the racks (frames), guts
and all, into the chum cage,
or chum bucket. This will
keep the slick going.
Warm water will cause you to
use up more chum, so you
have to get experienced in
the area you are fishing to
get the balance you want.
When you are ready to start your slick, stop the boat, put over your chum dispenser, and secure it to
the boat in such a way that it can be slowly and safely towed. Drifting along in neutral, with the chum
dispenser overboard, and the boat positioned the way want to fish, determine which direction the boat
wants to drift. Slowly move the boat in that diection while draggging the chum dispenser. Take adequate
time to ascertain this. The tendency after a long run to the shark area is to hurry up everything. Relax !
The way the slick is set up is the most important thing you will be doing.
If it is a flat calm day, go about 1 mile. At 3 kts that's about 20 minutes of dragging the chum dispenser.
If its windy, about 1/2 mile. ( Ten minutes) Then stop the boat and start drifting.
Make sure you are not dragging toward another shark fisherman who would end up being within two
miles when you stop. Be prepared, a shark may be at the boat in a matter of minutes. In some areas
you may have to wait several hours for a shark to show. While dragging the chum to set up the slick
you can have a hook bait in the water behind the boat in case a shark is following the boat.
After the slick is spread under power, and you stop and start drifting, the drift direction may be slightly
different than from the starting point. Donít worry, as long as the slick is continuous the sharks will find
you, even if the slick has a dog leg in it. By jump starting the slick you can avoid being stuck in a small
area with a short slick on a calm day. Tide changes can cause drift problems but only experience in the
area can help you.
When you stop, you can fish 1 bait or
several, depending on your situation.
I keep my bait(s) above the
thermocline -where makos are most
likely swimming. Now you can start
jigging the bottom for groundfish.
In any type of fishing, have a plan as to what you are going to do with the catch. Are you going to release
the sharks? Are you going to bring one in for a tournament weigh in? Are you going to tag and release
them? Are you going to photograph and release? Have a plan in advance.
For the latest FEDERAL regs for recreational anglers click here.
For MASSACHUSETTS regulations go here.
I recommend taking pictures, and releasing the sharks alongside as quickly as possible.
Below are the protected species you might encounter in New England waters.
There are more protected species, but I don't expect us to encounter them in our area.
Read the up to date regs. before you go shark fishing. Check both STATE and FEDERAL regulations.
b) Prohibited Shark Species. the following species are prohibited from harvest under the provisions of
322CMR 6.37(3): These are protected species we might encounter in New England
Atlantic angel (Squatina dumeril) - flat flounderlike, offshore(a rare catch)
Basking (Cetorhinus maximus) - everywhere during the summer, plankton eater.
Bigeye thresher (Alopias superciliosus) - has grooves on its head and a large eye. (a rare catch)
Dusky (Carcharhinus obscurus) - occasionally caught south of Cape Cod. Has a ridge on its back.
Longfin mako (Isurus paucus) out in the canyons south of Cape Cod. dark under chin and snout.
Sandbar (Carcharhinus plumbeus) - caught off the beaches on Cape Cod. Has a ridge on its back.
Sand tiger (Carcharias taurus) - regularly caught in the bays around Boston and Plymouth.
White (Carcharodon carcharias) - more around lately, anglers have caught and releasd them.
(3) Regulation of Catches.
(a) Permitted Species Size Limits.
1. Recreational Fishing Size Limits. For recreational fishermen, the size limit for Permitted Species shall
be 54" measured from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail. Exception: there shall be
no minimum size for the following species: Smooth Dogfish, Atlantic sharpnose, Bonnethead, Finetooth,
(b) Permitted Species Possession Limits.
1. Recreational Catch Limits. A recreational shore angler may harvest only one fish among all Permitted
Species and one additional Bonnethead, one additional Atlantic sharpnose, and one additional smooth
dogfish per trip. A recreational vessel may possess on board or land only one fish among
all Permitted Species per trip regardless of the number of recreational fishermen
aboard, and one additional Bonnethead, one additional Atlantic sharpnose, and one additional smooth
dogfish per person.
This shark fishing page is not all inclusive by any means, but it gives you an idea of what you need to
get started , and the approximate costs. There are many other items you will add like a Drag scale
($25),leather gloves ($15) chum dispenser, floats, balloons sinkers, crimpers, etc.
This mako is going to get the fish rack and cut the tie up line.
If you decide to augment the chum slick with racks of fish on a
stringer -use coated cable to string the racks so that a shark won't
be able to cut through the cable and tear the racks loose.
Don't bring out striped bass racks into FEDERAL waters.