Land based shark fishing refers to fishing for sharks from beaches, jetties or piers. In other words, it is fishing for sharks without a boat. The general technique is to deploy baits several hundred yards off the beach (or pier or jetty) using a kayak and then return to the beach (or pier or jetty) and wait for the the big bite. This is the central concept of land based shark fishing. There are innumerable variations of this technique, but they all are a variety of this model. This type of fishing requires special tackle and equipment. I will give a brief overview.

on the beach

Reels must be of a high capacity variety that will hold hundreds of yards of line and be suited for the saltwater environment. Entry level rigs start at about 500 yds. of line and some larger, more expensive rigs will hold over 1000 yds. of line. To increase capacity many use braided lines. Braided lines are stronger and thinner that monofilament and are frequently used to increase line capacity of reels. A braided line can double or triple the capacity of a reel. Lighter rigs will start at 50 lb. test line and go up to 200 lb. test or more.

Tackle must be heavy-duty as well. Obviously, sharks are large and have sharp teeth. That means not just any leader will do. Multi-strand stainless steel leaders are the standard material for leader construction. Some save a few pennies and go with galvanized cable, but it will not last as long in the salt. Some also use single-strand stainless wire (also known as piano wire) to make leaders. It is less expensive, but a bit more of a challenge to work with since it is not as limber as the multi-strand cable. Hooks must be large, and strong as do swivels and connections. Entry level leaders start at about 250 lb. test rating and go up to around 1000 lb. test. A 1000 lb. test rig would be for a truly monster shark. Under the right circumstances a well built 250 lb. rig could be used to land a shark of 8+ feet. The best all around rig would be one in the 500 lb. range. Leader construction is another topic all together, but I will say this: they must be long. When you get that shark to knee deep water and you need to grab that leader to pull him to the beach you don’t want to be “fishing” around underwater to find it. A long leader gives your line protection from the shark’s rough hide and gives you something to grab a hold of to get him onto the beach.

Deploying the bait is what makes land based shark fishing unique. Large baits, large weights and long leaders make casting impossible. Baits must be deployed by other means. This is usually done with a kayak. Some also use jet skis or small inflatables. A large weight is utilized to hold the large bait in place. Since it is difficult deploying baits they are usually left out for hours at a time. The weight must hold it in place in the rough surf.


Heading out

Kayaks come in two varieties: Sit-in and Sit-on-top. A sit-in type can be purchased inexpensively, but is totally useless for shark fishing. A turned over kayak filled with water is at the mercy of the current. A 45 lb. kayak filled with water becomes a 500 lb. kayak tossing in the waves. For kayaking in the surf a sit-on-top variety is essential for success and safety. Sit-on-top varieties are designed to be able to turn over in the surf and then be righted again. They are the only way to go. In this category there are some models that are better suited for use in the surf. Researching the strengths and weaknesses of different models can save money in the long run.

This is a brief synopsis of what land based shark fishing is all about. I will go into more detail in future posts and hopefully share some ideas that will help others catch more fish as well.