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blueshark3.gif (48011 bytes)Blue Sharks on
Striper Gear

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By Mike Christy

with special thanks to Jim and Merrill.

When asked about the type of gear required for offshore shark fishing, most anglers will generally respond that you need heavy 6/0 or greater tackle loaded with no less than 80# test line. To be safe, that is the general rule, as long as you couple that with a good length (12') of strong wire leader, stout swivels and big ass hooks! Say for example, you are drifting along with your chum slick oozing off of the stern, and there are several 5 to 6 foot sharks sniffin' around the transom. Do you necessarily need a Penn Tuna Stick to hook and land one one of these smaller fish? Nay!

Normally shark baits are placed below floats or balloons and are allowed to drift from 20 to 50 yards off the transom. Heavy gear is used, as it should be since often times the angler has little idea of the size of the animal that will grab the offering. The baits are well out of view, and the furthest bait out tends to be set so deep that it's impossible to see any activity prior to a strike. Using light tackle when setting out baits in this situation is asking to be spooled and is not recommended.

But when your chum slick has brought a shark in close to the boat and the shark can be clearly identified, and it's size can be approximated to match your tackle, that's when the fun begins!

We generally set out one heavy rig, sometimes two rigs if were are not jigging for cod and keep two striper rods handy for small sharks in close to the boat. The striper rods are your standard 7' to 8' medium action live baits rods, with Penn 320 GTI or Bait Runner reels spooled with  20 to 30lb test monofiliment. The terminal tackle used is similar to the big rods, an 8'-12' section of 200# wire with a swivel and hook wrapped on the ends.

blueshark4.gif (44288 bytes)Ive found that even when using 12'  of wire, the mono can get frayed. This happens either during the fight, or while the sharks are swimming back and forth off the transom and rubbing against the line. It is important to check your line for abrasions often, not only after every fish, but during idle times as well.

Rigging up dead mackerel for sharks is a straight forward technique. We use a homemade riggin rod to bury the hook in the bait.. It is a stiff piece of 16" thin diameter rod with a small loop bent in one end, but not completely closed . The end where the loop meets the rod is filed down flush. The other end of the rod is sharpened to allow it to easily pass through the bait. To rig the bait, place the swivel in the loop and push the sharp end of the rod through the anal cavity and out through the mouth. Pull the entire leader through until the hook is snug inside the bait.

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Now that your all rigged up, flip down your polarized sun glasses and watch for your bait to be inhaled. Double check the reel drag and have your standup rod harness on and adjusted. When the shark takes the bait blueshark2.gif (30045 bytes)don't set the hook right away, make sure he has it firmly in his mouth and has just swallowed it. When he has, give him the boots and hang on! You'll find that blue sharks will make long fast runs, stop, then allow you to pull them back to the boat, just to do it all over again! On light tackle those small reel drag systems just scream! And depending on the action of your rod, it may appear that it's about to break. Its hard to believe that a sturdy rod of graphite could be bent into a complete horseshoe and stay in one piece!

The simple idea behind all of this is to match the class of tackle to the size of the fish. Sure, there are times when your going to need, or wished you had a big old Penn International to land that near record Mako, but most of the time you'll find that the fish swimming in the slick are perfectly matched for your striper gear. So put down that heavy stuff, rig up those lighter rods, and hang on - sharks on light tackle are a real scream!

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