Surf Fishing for Sharks in SoCal

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Cast and Spear’s Jon Stenstrom tries to surf fish for a Soupfin.

Many Southern California anglers aim to go surf fishing for sharks at least once in their lifetime. They want to get the thrill out of fishing sharks as they are one of the ocean’s most notorious fish species.

SoCal surf anglers know them to be fierce big fish that are scared of nothing. Although people think shark fishing is an intimidating and frightening process, most anglers swear by their experience. They would like to fish for sharks again in SoCal surfs. 

Listen to more surf fishing tips on the Cast & Spear Podcast

Shark Fishing Rigs and Tackle

Rod and Reel

Gearing up with the right reel and rod to your surf fishing rigs helps you fish for sharks productively. An ideal rod to use when fishing for sharks is an 8 to 10-foot-long surf rod with medium to heavy power.

This big fish is more comfortable to catch with a stiff rod and a spinning reel, or a casting reel, whichever you prefer. Choosing a reel that can hold 300 yards of the line will help you catch up with the long runs of sharks on the hook.

Line and Leaders

When surf fishing for sharks, using a braided line as your main line ensures a better and stable hookset. An FG knot with your braided line creates a low-profile connection. The stretch of braided lines is relatively little, and it withstands abrasion better than the mono line.

However, you tying your hook to your main line’s end does not suffice. You’ll want to attach a 1 to 3-foot long mono. This will be your shock leader to help your rig be more elastic. Then, you’ll need about 6 feet of steel leader. This will keep your target shark from biting through your line. 

Sinkers and Hooks

Shark fishing calls for a heavy sinker to keep the fresh bait steady. A 4 to 8-ounce weight would be a good start, but heavier weights may be needed in catching sharks swimming in strong currents.

Circle hooks are ideal for catching and releasing sharks as a circle hook is easier to remove from the lip of the shark species. 

Shark Baits

It’s common knowledge that you can’t catch a big target fish with small bait. When surf fishing for sharks, bits, and pieces of squid or shrimps won’t make the cut. You will need the whole fish or bigger and thicker strips of your cut bait to let the shark bite.

Your baitfish will depend on the resident shark size of the spot you are surf fishing in. In baiting sharks, using fresh bait is preferred, but frozen bonito fish works well too.

If you want more challenges, you can catch your own bait with a net or light tackle before fishing for sharks. This is advantageous as you will use the same species that the resident sharks hunt as your bait. 

Is Chumming Water Legal? 

The short answer is no. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t access the situation before chumming for sharks. For example, if there are divers nearby, don’t chum the water. We want to make sure people are safe too.

Southern California is a popular spot where the shark population is growing- from great whites (illegal to catch) to the leopard shark, seven gills, makos, soupfins, and more.

When fishing for this species in the SoCal surf, California State University, Long Beach reminds anglers of SoCal shark fishing rules. Chumming off public piers and beaches in SoCal is not necessary as the use of a good-sized bait is usually enough to land surf sharks. However, certain shark anglers would say chumming is critical for bringing the shark in towards your bait.

California has regulations on fishing as there are certain species of sharks you can fish, and knowing your legal shark is essential.

Catch and Release Sharks

If you’re planning to do catch and release shark fishing, using circle hooks will help protect the sharks. You do less harm when using circle hooks as it improves the survival rate of your released shark species.

You can use bolt cutters or wire cutters in releasing smaller sharks from your circle hook. But if releasing bigger species, hook removers are ideal. They help protect your fingers and make the task easier. 

Tips on Surf Fishing for Sharks 

When surf fishing for sharks, inter-matching your gear and equipment will help you gain an edge with your tackle. Essentially, you want a bigger chunk of your cut-up bait to entice the shark. And you want to match your bigger bait fish with the appropriate-sized hook when fishing in the surf.

Aside from your surf fishing essentials, you’ll want to bring a sturdy rod holder and an extra amount of patience. The surf rod holder keeps your rig secure, and the patience is for when waiting for this notorious fish to bite. Lastly, you will want to arm yourself with big respect for the shark you’re fishing whether you plan on catching and releasing them or catching and cooking the shark meat.  

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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