The Courier-Mail

PUTTING THE BITE ON SHARKS

Sharks are good eat­ing and can be fun to catch but they can still give you a nasty nip if you’re not care­ful

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EV­ERY spring we see an in­crease in the num­ber of small river whaler or bull sharks in our rivers, creeks and es­tu­ar­ies.

They are good eat­ing, ex­cit­ing to catch and a pop­u­lar tar­get for small boat an­glers. You won’t need spe­cial gear to catch them but a few tips on rigs and baits will im­prove your catches.

A mis­take many an­glers make is they rig up ready to cap­ture a mon­ster, but most sharks caught in our es­tu­ar­ies are less than a me­tre long and weigh only a cou­ple of ki­los.

Most gen­eral pur­pose 4-6kg es­tu­ary out­fits will do the job, how­ever, you do have to use a wire trace. You don’t need large hooks. I pre­fer a 2/0-4/0 chem­i­cally sharp­ened hook and I gen­er­ally use a Mus­tad Big Red.

If you’re us­ing long skinny baits such as a strip fil­let, it is a good idea to use two hooks snooded to­gether.

One of the most im­por­tant items you need is a pair of long nose pli­ers to get the hook out of the shark’s mouth. A large net is also handy.

Don’t at­tempt to gaff a small shark be­cause their tough skin and over­ac­tive an­tics make it al­most im­pos­si­ble.

The tech­nique I use is to fish with two rods out the back of the boat in rod hold­ers. One is rigged with a No. 4 ball sinker above the wire trace an­chor­ing it on the bot­tom, the other sus­pended half a me­tre un­der the sur­face us­ing a float. Ei­ther way, you have a good chance of hav­ing a bait in front of them.

Many an­glers are sur­prised at how timid a small shark can be. Of­ten the ini­tial bite is not much more than you’d ex­pect from a bream, how­ever, at other times they just pick up the bait and run with it.

Be­ing a scavenger, they will take just about any bait in­clud­ing pilchards, mul­let, bony bream and her­ring, how­ever, small live bait usu­ally pro­duces the best re­sults.

Sharks pri­mar­ily feed through the night and in the early hours of the morn­ing, although you will catch them through the day, es­pe­cially in the deeper holes, but they will be in fewer num­bers.

Their typ­i­cal be­hav­iour in a river sys­tem is to spend the hot­ter part of the day in the deep­est hole they can find then, in the cool of the evening or be­fore first light, cruise the shal­lows look­ing for food.

Wher­ever you see bait­fish schools, the sharks won’t be far away. I pre­fer the smaller tides of the month dur­ing the neap moon pe­ri­ods.

On the big spring tides I find the sharks move fur­ther into an es­tu­ary sys­tem and are of­ten caught a long way up river to the tidal lim­its.

Safety is para­mount when you have a shark on the deck of the boat. They will ac­tively turn and snap at you, so if you in­tend to keep it for the ta­ble, it is a good idea to dis­pense of it quickly with a sharp blow be­fore you bring it on deck.

Even a dead shark is dan­ger­ous, es­pe­cially to chil­dren. Dead or alive, a shark’s teeth are still ca­pa­ble of in­flict­ing a nasty cut, so keep hands and feet well away.

Changes to Queens­land’s reg­u­la­tions in the past few years now pro­hibit you keep­ing more than one shark and it must be un­der 1.5m long, but at that size they still make a tasty meal of flake.

 ??  ?? GOOD EAT­ING: Bruce Chalmers with a typ­i­cal Lo­gan River bull shark. It may be small but still packs a punch.
GOOD EAT­ING: Bruce Chalmers with a typ­i­cal Lo­gan River bull shark. It may be small but still packs a punch.

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