August is a great time to target sharks in the Central East Region because the ocean is calm and the baitfish are schooling along the beaches within a mile or two of shore. For the most part, the bait schools will be Atlantic menhaden (pogies), but there may be an early push of mullet along the beach with the fall mullet run. By the end of August, there’s certainly a lot of mullet in the mix.
The sharks focus on the large concentrations of food, so wherever there’s a lot of bait in close proximity to the shoreline there’s going to be a good number of sharks around it. We get blacktip, spinner, dusky and finetooth sharks that range in size from 5 to 100 pounds or more, so you never really know how big of a shark you can expect to hook. The spinner sharks jump, which makes them really fun to fight on light tackle.
Menhaden and mullet are both very oily baitfish, and the sharks really key in on those species. In August, when the menhaden pods are schooled up you can expect tarpon, redfish, king mackerel and bluefish to be feeding from their ranks as well, and when all those predators eat, it releases a lot of oil in the water, which is what draws the sharks.
You can catch plenty of sharks on a chunk of dead menhaden, but I really like to use the live ones because I believe they catch the larger sharks that are drawn to the wounded baits. The typical menhaden will be anywhere from 6 to 12 inches in length, and I like to hook them with a VMC 7385 7/0-9/0 circle hook. I’ll tie a 15 inch piece of #6 or #7 wire to the hook so they can’t bit off the leader, and then a four foot piece of 50 pound Suffix fluorocarbon to the wire to keep their tails from cutting my line.
I’ll use 20 to 30 pound class monofilament on either conventional or spinning reels and a 7.5 foot rod. The longer rod allows you to throw the bait a lot farther.
If the bluefish are bad, I’ll put a 1 to 3 ounce weight on the line to take the bait quickly to the bottom. More often than not, the largest concentrations of sharks are on the bottom although they will come to the surface to eat a wounded bait. That’s when you get that real visual bite and realize how quick sharks can really swim.
The mullet schools will be right on the beaches just outside the surf zone, and the sharks will be chasing those schools all day long, but are particularly active at dawn and dusk. The mullet are migrating south along the beach, so at just about every inlet they get bottled up as they hit the jetty on the north side, so the sharks are there waiting for them.
Pick an inlet, be there at dawn or dusk with a live mullet on the same rig and tackle and toss it into the school close to the jetty. You can also hook the bait through the lips and slow troll them behind the boat using the trolling motor. Both techniques are effective at drawing sharks to the bait, and you’ll know the second you hook up, as the line goes screaming off the reel.
Captain’s Tip of the Week #19 Sharks - 2015
Chevy Florida Insider Fishing Report