SO, YOU WANT TO CATCH SHARKS?
When setting your sights on bigger catches, like the multitude of shark species roaming South Africa’s coastlines, it is imperative to use the right tackle, grinder and bait. By Andre Vorster
WHILE STILL WORKING IN a tackle shop, I remember clients coming in and
buying just the basic equipment – such as a 10-foot combo set – as they wanted
to catch some fish like shad. Obviously they must have possibly tried their skills
at Margate Pier. The following day the same customers were back in the shop
to ask for heavier grapnel sinkers and 10/0 hooks. When I queried what they
required this for, the answer I got was: ‘Ek wil nou haaie gaan vang!’
This single incident of many in the same vein has prompted me to write this article. Let’s be honest, with the tackle that he had, he could possibly have caught some of the smaller species of shark that are abundant along our
coasts. In light of this, let’s first take a look at the smaller species of shark
that we could catch with medium tackle along our coasts. Tackle depends on the type of spool you will be fishing with
Grinder: You need a good quality grinder that can handle the desired fight, filled with 50lb braid or 30lb monofilament, and a rod that can cast at least a 6oz sinker with large guides. Depending on the route you wish to follow, the butt should allow for grinder casting. Using a grinder with a short butt will be discussed later.
Leader line in the case of fishing with monofilament should be at least .80mm and the length of the rod plus 2m. If fishing with braid, never use a monofilament leader. Use braid of at least 100lb. Using mono leader with braid will cause
guide wraps and rod damage. If you plan on sliding with the grinder, then you need to use monofilament and not braid. The disadvantage of using a grinder for sliding is that the ratchet is very soft on most grinders, and in my case, I do not hear it at all when there is a run. Secondly, is the awkward setting of the drag on the front of the spool
Multiplier: Once again consider a decent quality multiplier reel – there are plenty on the market that will suit a tight budget. There are also some medium-priced reels that I will even use when targeting bigger species of shark. The line you need to use is between 30lb and 35lb monofi lament with a leader line of .80mm, the length being twice your rod length or at least 7m. There are many good quality reels available at affordable prices and for the smaller shark species, these reels are quite capable of doing the job. Remember to select a rod that suits your type of reel (grinder = large guides). A medium rod will suffi ce, by this I mean a rod that can cast a sinker between 5 and 6oz and that is not too heavy weight wise. If you are like me, shop for the best rod that suits your pocket; it is not necessary to go and buy the specialist rods at this level.
The hook size I recommend would be between a 4/0 and a 6/0. My selection of
baits would be chokka, sardine, mackerel and redeye. With these basic baits,
you should be able to target any of the smaller shark species with confi dence.
There are many articles and books on bait presentations that will provide you with endless ways of presenting a good bait.
A fish bait consists basically of two parts: a hard bait (which is the head) and
a soft bait (which is the body part). Often small peckers will clean up a soft bait
before the bigger fi sh arrive at the bait. If this happens, use the head as bait.
Similarly, if you are using chokka and the small peckers are cleaning up the bait, ease up on the tenderising of the chokka. One of my favourite baits when fi shing
for greys is the mixed grill, which is basically a chokka bait with a sliver of sardine wrapped inside to add extra scent to the bait.
Again there are many different ways of presenting baits, far too numerous to
be covered in this article. Although there are sharks without teeth that require the use of steel traces, I would recommend you use a bite trace – there might just be one of the smaller taxmen around, such as a milky or grey shark.