For anyone who’s been surf fishing for a while, the fear of a shark attack may be very real. Even though the chances of a shark attacking us are very low. Being in the water and knowing that there may be sharks somewhere around us is definitely not the best feeling in the world.
Sharks are known to eat almost anything, and with we are casting live and fresh bait into the ocean, it is only natural to ask the following question.
Does surf fishing attract sharks? Surf fishing can attract sharks. Sharks are attracted to different bodily fluids and odors, including the smell of bait, as well. Sharks can also be attracted to anglers that are surf fishing in the water, confusing them for prey.
This is a short and sweet answer. However, as I was doing my research on the topic, I found out that there is a little more to it.
Read on, if you are interested in learning more about what you can expect to happen when it comes to surf fishing and shark encounters.
Can You Encounter a Shark While Surf Fishing?
Let’s expand a little more on the whole topic of sharks and surf fishing by taking a little further in-depth look at how they behave and what you can expect when it comes to encountering one.
How Likely Is That a Shark Will Attack You While Surf Fishing?
The actual chances of a shark attacking you are very slim. But however small the chances maybe there is still a chance. And since this is a health and safety issue, we should not be taking any unnecessary risks.
There is a 1 in 3,748,067 chance of getting attacked and killed by a shark. That’s pretty low. In comparison, the chances of drowning are 1 in 1,134. In a certain way, you are more likely to drown while surf fishing than getting killed by a shark.
That really puts things into perspective!
With that being said, if you know that there are frequent shark encounters in your area, you may want to either avoid fishing there altogether or just fish during the day.
Conversely, if we take a look at the statistics, we will find out that most shark-related incidents happen during the day and usually during the weekends.
This can be a bit misleading as the numbers may be a bit skewed as this is when most of us actually go to the ocean and the beach, and it doesn’t have anything to do with any specific shark behavior.
Do Sharks Get Close to the Surf?
The sharks do get pretty close to the shore as the majority of shark attacks happen in water that is less than 5 feet deep (an even thigh-high waters). If you can swim in the water, so can they.
They also tend to come closer to the shore during the sunrise, sunset, and night.
If you are surf fishing during that time of the day, you need to pay extra attention, especially given the fact that many anglers surf fish alone.
You should also be careful about surf fishing near jetties and piers as these can often be feeding grounds for sharks.
For those of you who are frequently kayaking off the shore, this may be more dangerous as you will be getting further into the ocean where the water will be much deeper.
What Will Attract Sharks to the Surf?
As it stands, a lot of things can attract sharks.
Piers, jetties, sewage waters, and murky waters often attract baitfish, which then can attract sharks, especially during their feeding times.
Kayaks and small boats can also attract small fish, which in turn can make sharks more interested in getting close to your vessel.
If you are surf fishing while being in the water, don’t do it while having a lot of bait on you or in your pockets: if your surf fishing waders smell like bait, this may easily attract a shark.
Sharks have a powerful and well-developed sense of smell. So, any bodily fluids like blood, urine, sweat can potentially attract sharks, too.
And last but not least, even specific high-contrast colors can attract sharks like yellow, orange, or silver. Sea-blue and muted colors are recommended.
Where Are Most Sharks Found?
Shark strikes are more common in the Atlantic Ocean. This is why, as I was doing my research on the topic, I found out that the most ‘near shark experiences,’ so to speak, usually happen on the East coast and mostly around Florida.
Florida is quite literally the shark central. So, if you are surf fishing there, I would recommend some extra care.
On the west coast, there are sharks, too, however, the chances of actually stumbling upon one are lower.
The smaller 5 to 6-foot-long sharks can frequently be found in the surf while the bigger ones can be further into the water past the breaking line.
Do Sharks like Warm or Cold Water?
Sharks are a top-tier predator, and they are extremely good at adapting to their environment.
As a result, even though they are cold-blooded, they can be found in both warm and cold oceans.
What kind of sharks you will encounter in the different waters will depend mostly on the shark species – some prefer colder waters while others prefer to hang out in colder waters.
In warmer and shore waters, you will tend to find smaller sharks as the temperature fluctuations will affect their bodies a lot more compared to bigger sharks, which can venture more safely into deeper and colder waters.
Can You Catch a Shark While Surf Fishing?
Yes, you can catch sharks while surf fishing, and a lot of anglers do it.
This poses some unique dangers and concerns, however.
Getting the shark back to the beach is going to be very challenging. You may want to feed them a little line and give them some time to tire out before trying to pull them back in.
Also, you need to have a little more of a heavy-duty fishing tackle.
The Fishing Tackle
Generally speaking, a spinning reel with a larger size of at least 6,000 to 8,000 will do well. You may need a longer rod typically about 10 to 12 feet with a stronger backbone.
Frequently you may be looking at catching 5, 6, or 7 feet sharks. These big boys can be very heavy, and you may want to go with at least 60 lbs. test line.
However, the leader line should be a lot tougher. Some expert anglers suggest going up to even 400 lbs. test line. And lastly, you may want to go with an about two feet of wire leader to prevent the sharks from just biting off your line.
The majority of anglers prefer to use 6/0 to 10/0 circle hooks.
The best bait for sharks is fresh bait. You can use both whole or cut bait- blue runner, whiting, menhaden, and more will do great.
Earlier I suggested being very careful with any lingering smells coming from the bait or bodily fluids.
So, make sure to wear clean waders that will not give out your presence in the water.
As far as it goes for storing the bait, it is recommended to use a floating bait bucket that is tied to you with a rope and kept away from you, or you can keep the bait on the beach.
Say you just caught your first shark and you are reeling it back to the shore. It was a hard tug-of-war, but you are winning, and the hardest part is over. Right?
Well, unfortunately, not.
When fishing for sharks, one of the first rules is never to fish alone. Sharks, both the smaller and large ones, are very dangerous even on the shore.
It is advisable to keep the shark close to the water so that it can still breath. It doesn’t take more than two minutes for a shark to die if left out of the water – this is a huge loss – and we need to ensure their survival.
The biggest concern is getting the hook out of its mouth, which is going to be difficult and dangerous.
Anglers usually always bring with themselves a de-hooker or a wire or bolt cutters for that purpose.
Final Words on Surf Fishing and Sharks
As you can see, sharks can be attracted to us when we are surf fishing. This can happen both intentionally and unintentionally. In either case, this is dangerous, especially if we are threading and casting from the surf or deeper water.
We need to pay extra care and attention to our surroundings and make sure we do not do anything that will attract any unwanted attention from these big boys.
And if you are specifically going after sharks while you are surf fishing, make sure to do it in as safe manners as possible both for you and the shark.