The best bait for shark fishing is a bloody oily chunk or live bait from species that are present in the waters. Sharks are opportunists, but they dial in on what is available when it comes to finding food. These are big predators, and it takes a lot of food to feed a shark. So it should be no surprise that they tend to target what is present and available in more significant numbers.
Characteristics of The Best Shark Bait
Where you fish for sharks is essential to how you choose the best shark bait. Sharks are picky eaters. They are not slow. They are not dumb. They are highly skilled, predatory fish, which is why you are targeting them when you fish. The Characteristics of Shark Bait include:
- Localized Fish — Take a look at the local population of fish. What are people catching the most of right now? Amberjack? Mullet? Ladyfish? Bonito? The sharks in the waters where you are fishing will target the fish species that are present. They won’t hold out all day waiting for something exotic.
- Size Matters — Or does it? Forage fish, those that sharks and other predators hunt, are what is essential. You can catch a giant shark on a sardine. Most often, it is not the size of the bait but the condition of it. Oily, firm, fresh, and bloody are four characteristics that make bait the best lure for sharks.
- Freshness — If Fishing with Chunks, make sure it is fresh. Sharks will scavenge but only as a last resort. The fresher the bait, the more oil and blood residue it has. Sharks are super sniffers, and some can detect the smallest amount of blood in a large amount of water. Frozen bait tends to soften up once in the water and become slushy, which means once the hook is placed, and the line in the water, the bait may float off the hook.
What Is The Best Bait for Shark Fishing In The Gulf of Mexico?
What is the best shark fishing bait? In the Gulf of Mexico, there are many fish that become the best shark fishing bait. Below is a partial list, along with the reasons these fish rock the shark bait menu. The following list is in no particular order. You may also want to look at the difference in baits vs. shark species, such as the blacktip shark.
- Bonito — A strong scented and oily fish that is ideal for off-shore shark fishing. Bonito are often present in the deeper water, which is also where you find the trophy sharks. A plus of using Bonito as shark bait is that they are not difficult to catch.
- Mackerel — Another pungent and oily fish, the mackerel makes an ideal shark bait. Most species of mackerel are available year-round and have an open season.
- Mullet — is excellent shark bait. They range from 9-19 inches and make good live bait or chunk bait. The best features include its heavy, oily skin with a pungent smell. These easily attract sharks, especially if fishing near a school of baitfish.
- Barracuda — strong-smelling, oily, and bloody make barracuda a prime fish to draw in sharks from a wide area. Used as chunk bait, you can cast from the shore or fish the deep water and lure sharks in close.
- Large Menhaden — grow to about a foot in length. They are a bottom feeder that produces a ton of oil. They make amazing live or chunked bait for sharks due to their thick layer of fat.
- Stingray — is a natural prey for sharks, especially hammerhead and tiger sharks. Stingray is not a regulated species, so the season is open all year long, and you can catch what you need for bait. Should you catch a giant hammerhead and land it, be sure to check the inside of its mouth. You will likely find stingray barbs lodged behind the teeth.
- Ladyfish (Skipjack) — A universal baitfish that is unregulated. Often found in huge schools, Ladyfish attract predatory fish, including sharks. Fish chunk or live Ladyfish at the fringe of the school. That is where the sharks lurk, waiting to take strays.
- Amber Jack — is easy to catch on live sardines, shrimp, or other small baitfish, making them a perfect bait for sharks. Fish live or in chunks; sharks love them. They are full of oil and have a strong smell, which are two traits that attract sharks.
- Bluefish — can be a pest to anglers. They will tear your bait apart before the sharks get there. The good news is that bluefish make excellent shark bait. Put a few chunks on your hook, and the other bluefish will leave it alone—sharks like bluefish for food.
- Blue Runners — are solid fighters and, as live bait, that can pull in big sharks. As chunk bait, they are only, making them perfect for chum or chunk bait. You can find Blue Runner frozen too, but for the best shark fishing, live or very fresh is always best.
- Jack Crevalle — can be large in the 40-inch range but are common in the 12-20 inch range. They make excellent bait for sharks, and specifically for Tiger Sharks.
As you can see, there are plenty of options for fantastic shark bait. Live bait is usually better, but chunked fresh bait can be equally good. Give the tendency for frozen bait to fall to pieces once, in the water, we suggest good fresh bait — live or chunked.
How To Catch Shark Bait
The best shark fishing bait is live. The distress of the live bait draws in sharks quickly. You can catch your live bait using a net or a hook and line.
Mullet, herring, and sardines you can catch with a cast net. Once you locate the school, cast the net out and pull it back onto the boat. Keep the baitfish alive in a bucket and use the excess for chum.
Most other shark bait you catch with a line and a hook. Those fish include larger bait such as Bonito or mackerel. Lures work great to catch predatory fish for bait. Silver spoons, jigs, and flashers are examples of lures that work on most fish on the best shark bait fish list. Remember, on a charter boat; you will have both an opportunity to target sharks with live bait or chunk bait. Half of the fun of shark fishing is catching the bait. Check out the rules and consideration for taking baitfish. Book a charter with the Finest Kind!