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Shark Fishing in the Northeast

By Kastking | 22 January 2018 | 1 Comments

Shark fishing takes on many forms depending on where you are and the type of shark you are fishing for. Here’s sharking fishing advice form a veteran Montauk charter captain.




I’m a child of the 70’s and distinctly remember when the movie “Jaws” arrived in the theatres during the summer of 1975. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” are the iconic words muttered by Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) to Quint (Robert Shaw) right after the giant shark is clearly seen for the first time off the stern of the fishing boat Orca.  In the scene the shark broached the surface of the water, and gave Brody quite a fright while he was slinging fish guts into the chum slick.  he first time I saw this scene, I was so startled that I almost hit the movie theatre ceiling.



Shark fishing soon became the rage as “Jaws” mania took the country by storm.  Although never officially credited, actor Robert Shaw as Quint was portraying Montauk monster hunting legend, Captain Frank Mundus who began “Monster Fishing” in the 60’s aboard his vessel the Cricket.



Frank was indeed a unique individual who actually was shark fishing long before “Jaws” hit box office gold.  In fact, Peter Benchley, the author of “Jaws,” shark fished many times with Mundus before his classic book was published.  I once met Frank at an Outdoor Show, and I innocently asked him how many guys he took on his fishing trips?  He glowered at me, a young teen at the time, and said,  “Well son…we take 6-people out…and sometimes…we even come back with all 6-people.” Yikes!!


Shark fishing in the 70’s and 80’s was a slaughter fest whereas blue, tiger, dusky, brown, mako, thresher, and great white sharks were all indiscriminately caught by anglers, towed back to the dock, and strung up for all the dock gawkers to ogle.  Once the spectacle was complete, the crowds thinned,  and the sharks were unceremoniously cut down. The shark was  either put into garbage dumpsters or towed back to sea the next day for disposal. What a waste.


Today, Shark Week on the Discovery Channel continues to fuel the fire of shark mania.  Thankfully, a conservation ethic has entered the shark fishing game, and today most sharks are released to live and fight another day.  Of course there is still some harvesting with legal sized mako and thresher sharks because these two specimens are quite good to eat.

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Shark fishing can be dangerous and a beginner is best to go fishing with a seasoned veteran for a few trips at first


Shark fishing can easily be described as a poor mans big game fishing.  A sea worthy craft would only have to run 10-20 miles offshore in order to be on the shark grounds.  Recently, an even closer to shore bite has developed off Long Island’s South Shore.  This is because the menhaden population has increased greatly in this locale the last few years.  As a result, many mako and thresher sharks have been coming in closer to shore in order to feed on the easy pickings offered by the dense schools of menhaden.


Shark fishing can be a very dangerous.  Heavyweight sharks, sharp teeth, pointy gaffs, and big fishing tackle can all combine to easily hurt a reckless angler.  So, I would highly recommend shark fishing with professionals the first few times out in order to get the “right feel” for the sport.  However, if you wish to go at shark fishing alone, I’ll offer some tips to “get a bit from Jaws.”


Proper water depth and presence of bait is where one wants to start a shark fishing drift. Take a good look at an offshore nautical chart in your boating area and trace the 20 and 30-fathom lines.  For the most part, sharks migrate up north in the spring on the 30-fathom curve, and return to the south in the fall on the 20-fathom curve.  This is mostly because these depths offer preferred water temperatures during these two different times of the season.


I like to set up on some “fingers” on the chart that show distinct changes in bottom depth.  This is where bait will congregate, and you can bet sharks won’t be far behind the bait.  That being said, sharks prefer warmer water of 66-degrees and above. That being the case, while steaming I’m constantly watching my water temperature gauge.  If I find an increase of a few degrees from surrounding water I might very well start my drift right there.

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Shark fishing can be an exciting adventure! (Photo credit: DC Outdoors)

Once on a spot get the chum over the side first.  Two or three buckets of frozen ground bunker chum will get you about 4 to 8-hours of chumming time.  Be sure to keep all chum buckets on ice during the ride out. Whack holes in the first bucket of chum with the claw end of a hammer.  This will allow for the chum to ooze out consistently once the chum bucket is placed in the water in a mesh net that is tied off to a boat cleat.


For fishing tackle It’s best to fish with 4 stand-up big game rods rated at 30 to 50-pounds.  I spool up with 50-pound Dacron, but monofilament, or KastKing braided line also works.  Be sure to set the drags at about 15 to 20-pounds of resistance.  Wind on leaders with 10 to 15-ft wire line shark rigs are the way to go. I would visit my local bait and tackle shop a few days before sailing and ask some questions about what is most popular rigs for shark in your area.


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KastKing high performance braided 8-strand fishing line in 65lb – 150lb test has received rave reviews for shark fishing

I place my baits that are normally large chunks from recently caught bluefish, or mackerel fillets, and suspend them below floats at the following estimated intervals.  The farthest bait goes out in the slick 150-ft from the boat and at a depth of 80-feet.  The middle bait goes 75-ft from the boat and at a depth of 50-ft.  The closest bait goes 30-ft from the boat and at a depth of 25-ft.  Once the baits are out, I’ll normally change them every 30-minutes to keep their scent strong. Leave the rods in free spool with the clickers on in rod holders.  When the water is a little rough the action of the rolling boat will cause line to constantly “click” off the reel.  This is when lever drag reels come in handy because a little more tension can be applied to the spools to keep the baits in the right positions.

The fourth rod should be rigged, baited, and ready to go for any sharks that swim right up the chum slick to the boat.  This happens very often, so someone on board should always be watching the chum slick for any of these “drive by” sharks. Once a shark is spotted in the slick, the fourth rod should be immediately deployed by dropping a bait right in front of the shark in the slick.



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Shark fishing off Montauk Long Island, NY aboard 4 C’s Charter


If, and when one of the other reels clickers starts singing “fish on,” grab the rod, engage the reel spool, point the rod at the fish, and then take a few cranks on the reel to make the line come tight as possible.  At this point, it is crucial to set the hook with hard rod strokes, two, three, maybe even 4-strikes will be needed to properly set the hook in a shark’s mouth.  Hopefully, you have done everything correctly and you are now hooked up with a decent sized shark that is pulling drag off the reel at an accelerated rate.


You are allowed to keep one shark per day, per boat of 54-inches or larger fork length. (check your local regulations for shark fishing – some areas require using circle hooks). In the Northeast most sharks you’ll encounter will be blue, mako, and thresher sharks in the 100-pound range.  Blues are inedible, so release them all by clipping the wire as close as you can.  As mentioned earlier, mako and thresher sharks are very good to eat.  However, the easiest part of shark fishing is getting the shark to the boat.  Gaffing and securing a live shark at boat side of 150-pounds and larger can be a very dangerous situation for the uninitiated.  If you’re going to attempt a capture please have a clue at what you are doing.  Otherwise, simply cut the leader and let the shark live to thrill another angler.


 By  —  Capt. Tom Mikoleski

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Captain Tom Mikoleski is the successful fishing charter captain of the Grand Slam who sails out of Montauk, NY for trophy striped bass, doormat fluke, jumbo porgies, humpback sea bass, and monster sharks. Capt. Tom is the author of Bass Buff — A Striper Fishing Obsession Guide.







About Eposeidon:

eposeidon, fishing, tackle, logoEposeidon (www.eposeidon.com  Eposeidon Outdoor Adventure, Inc.)  brings a fresh, innovative approach to anglers by offering quality fishing tackle products at the best prices and no cost, or low cost shipping. Eposeidon’s goal is to exceed expectations through outstanding customer service and superior product value to their customers. Eposeidon is continually expanding its product lines, which include KastKing® fishing line, fishing reels, and fishing rods, MadBite fishing lures, Ecooda reels, and other fishing tackle products, to meet individual fishing equipment needs. Eposeidon is headquartered in Garden City, NY, USA and sells fishing tackle products globally. Eposeidon is the sole North American Distributor for Ecooda fishing reels

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