Landbased Sharks

12/03/12 - Author: Jamie Crawford

Chasing sharks from the beach is cool fun, and is still a popular and widely accepted form of fishing down here in SA. We’re not referring to targeting XOS whalers here, but rather the smaller, more manageable sharks often found roaming inshore waters along many of our surf beaches.
The highest prized sharks from the sand are gummies, with their spotted slender flanks and highly delectable flesh. From the surf they fight pretty well on the right tackle; they’re definitely no power-house of muscle but good fun nonetheless. While targeting gummies in the surf we often encounter school sharks and bronze whalers, also great fun in the surf environment.

I must stress here that we’re not geared up for big sharks, so when a rouge big whaler passes through, we’re in no position to wrangle such a beast to the sand. The gummies and school sharks make for top tucker when looked after properly, and even smaller whaler sharks less than 5ft make for good flake fillets too.

So how do we go about beaching some fun small to medium sized sharks from the surf? First we have to choose the right sort of beach for targeting sharks. Down here in SA we look for deep beaches which collect a small to medium level of swell. The beaches which collect too much swell are quite difficult to fish effectively for shark, and will see the berley trail swept out to sea rather than being effective and holding in close.
The beaches we fish are remote surf beaches away from the hustle and bustle of swimmers and beach-goers. Recreational fisho’s are largely branded as rednecks by conservation and extremist groups as it is, so the last thing we want is to be seen targeting sharks (albeit small ‘table’ sharks) from popular beaches. To be on the safe side pick an out-of-the-way stretch of sand to do your shark fishing.

In South Oz we chase sharks from the Dog Fence Beach and Yalata Beaches (Far West Coast), the Ocean Beach at the Coorong (42 mile crossing and Tea Tree crossing), some surf beaches around Streaky Bay (Back Beach, Hally’s and Yanerbie) and some beaches along the southern tip of the Eyre Peninsula and extending up into the Spencer Gulf. The fishing isn’t just restricted to these beaches; there are many more stretches of sand around our state which produce land based sharks though.

Once we have chosen our beach, we will fish for baitfish during the day (salmon, mullet, trevally, tommies etc) from the inshore gutters, and then set a berley trail late in the day. To set a berley trail we wait for low tide, and then bury some pockets of berley just below the sand. Chopped pillies, old bait scraps, pellets and fish frames are all effective, and when combined with a liberal dose of tuna oil it sends a nice continual berley scent out into the gutter once the tide starts to build.

We then wait for the tide to start filling before we start fishing; this gives time for the berley trail to start working effectively. We often roll out our swags and set an alarm to wake us about an hour before the peak of high tide. We then fish from an hour before the peak, though until around an hour after the peak of high tide, as this is definitely the most productive period for surf-roaming sharks, especially gummies.
Surf rods of around 11 to 12ft and rated between 8 to 12kg are ideal for these sharks. I fish with two outfits at night; the first is an 8 – 10kg rod with a Calcutta 400 spooled with 8kg, and the second is a 10 – 12kg rod matched with a Calcutta 700 spooled with 10kg. For the size of sharks we are after, these outfits are perfect for the job. I’ll generally run a slightly larger bait on the heavier outfit.
When specifically targeting gummies, I’ll use 80lb mono trace, with a pair of 8/0 chem sharp hooks at the business end. If we are getting a few bite-offs from school sharks or bronzies, then I’ll don a 2ft length of 80lb wire. The size of sinker required will depend on the conditions and current at the time, but generally speaking a 5oz star sinker is pretty standard fare. We will occasionally use a grapnel sinker of the current is running hard, but when the current is racing, it is usually taking our berley with it, so the conditions for shark fishing isn’t ideal in this circumstance.

Shark fishing may not be for everyone, but personally I rate it. In southern climates where large landbased fish are few and far between I reckon we should make the most of every species we do have.

Tags: - Posted By: Jamie Crawford There are 4 responses on this story.


  1. Jamie Crawford says:

    Like your article on the toothie critters.I target them constantly and have only ever caught big rays or have been bitten off.Have used mono up to 120 pound and wire trace to about the same.Maybe my luck will change one day.

    • Jamie Crawford says:

      Hi Mick. I used to get bitten off and busted off a lot and it wasn’t until I upped my terminals and started specifically targeting them when I started actually landing a few. They are cool fun. I hope you manage to beach one soon!

  2. Jamie Crawford says:

    Hey Jamie,
    I live down in metropolitan Adelaide and was looking at getting into some land based shark fishing for gummies and school shark. I was just wondering if you had any advice regarding what to look for in a good spot, even tackle advice would be helpful – it’s a whole new world out there for me really!


    • Jamie Crawford says:

      Hi Josh,
      I grew up in Adelaide and used to fish along the south coast a fair bit. Some of the beaches around Victor do produce a few gummies and school sharks, but we found the surf beaches from Goolwa through to Kingston to be a more reliable stretch of coast in that region. This included the Coorong Ocean Beach such as 42 mile crossing. You have a much better chance of beaching a nice gummy or school shark from beaches where there is regular surf activity and pronounced gutter formations. Try not to hit these beaches when the surf is pumping though, as these conditions are tough to fish from a beach. We normally pick a good piece of water, add a bit of berley and then fish around the high tide after dark. Note your berley will be more effective when the swell is low.

      As far as tackle selection goes, any quality surf outfit of around 10ft or longer will suffice. Whether you fish overhead or threadline reel in the surf is personal preference, but I prefer using overheads. My reel of choice in the surf is the Calcutta 400 spooled with 8kg mono for these smaller sharks – lots of fun.

      I hope that helps out in some way

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