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Picture this: fishing with heavy tackle, big, bloody baits, wire traces and a lot of determination – for I am targeting the sometimes elusive cowshark!




his species is found predomi-nantly  in and around kelp beds alongside deep channels by lobbing a large mixture of bloody bait with a double hook trace; the pick-up is usually anything from the straight stick pull to the hated lift, shake and loose line,  when your heart starts beating in your throat.

Eventually, the fish turns and pulls you flat; you set the hook and hold on, trying to prevent the monster from taking too much line. Oomph!   

Again you are praying that the
fight will be as clean as possible, ducking for the kelp stalks and the numerous reefs in it’s way; the fish eventually comes to the surface,
a common trait of this shark.

You see your prize and, with quick footwork across the rocks, you manage to angle the fish into the shallows.



Cowsharks are generally considered the most primitive of all the sharks because their skeleton resembles that of the most primitive shark ancestors. Their distinctive features include their seven gill slits– which is two more than most other sharks have – and the absence of the front dorsal fin.              



They are found in all oceans with the exception of the North Atlantic and the Meditarranean, but here in the Cape we usually target them either between the kelp beds or very close to them. Sometimes they can also be found in strange places like the Strand beaches. One can target cows both in the daylight hours or at night.



Large bloody bait tends to bring the fish – bonito or other tuna species, sardine, mullet and squid – to play.        

They are opportunistic feeders, happy to hunt in packs and devour anything in their path, from seals, whales and dolphins to crustaceans, often regurgitating pieces of their prey when caught.                                                                     

Tackle off the rocks

When tackling these beasts off the
sand, one can catch them with light tackle, to make the most of the fight:

heavy-duty rods like a 7+1  

decent fast-retrieve reel

heavy line – 0.50 - 0.55 – with

    a heavy leader – 1.0mm plus           

8’0 to 10’0 hooks

normally a two-hook trace  

Their biting equipment is horrible, with square, comb-shaped teeth
in the lower jaw that are used for tearing and raggie jagged-type
teeth used for holding in the
upper jaw.