How To Catch Shark – FAQ’s

When is Shark fishing season?

A: In Victoria, outside the heads of Port Phillip Bay, the season is January to September.

What is the minimum legal size of a Shark you can keep?

Bronze Whaler, Port Jackson & Broadnose sevengill shark: no minimum (Victoria)

School Shark & Gummy Shark: 45cm (partial length) See VFA Guidelines


What is the bag limit?

Bronze Whaler, Port Jackson & Broadnose sevengill shark: 1 per species per angler (Victoria)

School Shark & Gummy Shark: A total combined limit of 2 school shark and/or gummy shark.

Can I fillet my fish on the boat?

A: These fish can’t be filleted in or on Victorian waters. They must be kept whole or in carcass form until you’re away from the water. It’s okay to fillet your fish on the cleaning tables at the boat ramp.

What is the lifespan of a Shark?

A: A Bronze Whaler is 25 to 30 years

The Broadnose sevengill and the school shark is up to 50 years

What are the scientific names of the different shark species?

School shark: Galeorhinus galeus

Bronze whaler: Carcharhinus brachyurus

Broadnose Sevengill: Notorynchus cepedianus

Ultimate Shark Fishing Guide: How To Catch Shark

When the mercury starts to climb in Victoria, there’s one thing on my mind… it’s shark fishing time! From the iconic Mako, Victoria is home to many beautiful and tasty shark species that offer a unique and thrilling fishing experience. While many casual anglers and tourists looking for a quick bit of excitement tend to flock to the tuna-fishing charters, the true sports fishing enthusiast knows there’s nothing better than seeing a mako shark jumping clean out of the water, trying to escape that hook that’s in its mouth.
Whether you’re an experienced angler or a beginner looking to try your hand at shark fishing, I’m Hooked Fishing tips will help ensure you have a great time out on the water.

Bronze Whaler Shark

Photo Courtesy: Bernard DUPONT

How to catch a shark

To me, nothing compares to that surge of anticipation at the first glimpse of a large shark trailing the fishing vessel, or the sight of the balloon taking off like a shot across the water’s surface after the shark has been hooked. But sharks are dangerous creatures, so some anglers miss out on that experience out of fear.
It’s my mission in this article to ensure you know how to catch a shark safely and give you the tools to go out and give it a go.
There’s lots to tell, so I’ll take you through it one bit at a time

What are the best places to catch sharks in Victoria?

Australian waters are home to more than 100 species of shark, and the sparkling blue water off the coast of Victoria plays host to several awesome varieties that make for a great shark fishing adventure. As you might guess, the best place to catch sharks in VIC depends on the species you’re after. For example, Gummy Shark fishing is always popular, and those smaller sharks are abundant throughout the deeper coastal waters. Mako sharks are also found in open water off the coast of Victoria. On the other types of sharks we fish for are Bronze Whalers, Hammer Heads, and we also come across Blue Sharks.
Port Phillip Bay, Western Port, and the waters along the Great Ocean Road are great places to catch sharks. However, I’ve found the deep waters of Bass Strait, sandwiched between Port Phillip Bay and Western Port, offer some of the best shark fishing activity. I’m Hooked Fishing Charters generally launches from either Hastings or Rye to reach the sweetest shark fishing spots in the Bass Strait.

Broadnose sevengill shark

Photo Courtesy of Geoff Spiby

What’s the best shark fishing method?

Ask a dozen shark fishermen for the best shark fishing method and you’re likely to get a dozen different answers. Really, though, it depends on what you want to catch. The most common techniques for catching sharks include:
+ Bottom fishing — using heavy tackle to attract sharks feeding near the bottom of the water column (this is good for Gummy/School sharks and Hammerheads)

Myself, I use a mix of and bottom fishing. I use a continuous flow of bait and have my rods set, so the line can come away from the reel easily, ensuring the sharks feel no pressure. Once they’ve taken the bait and are hooked, I always give them time to swallow the bait before I strike them and engage the pressure. You have to keep a good, hard, constant pressure on them, so they don’t wrap up on your line (you’ll lose them quickly if they do). And eventually, you’ll get them close enough to bring onboard or release.

What’s the best shark fishing setup?

My standard setup, which has never failed me, uses four rods. I set them up on a walk-around boat and each has a different purpose:
+ I drop one down with a 20-ounce sinker and a breakaway 3 kg line attached to the swivel. This makes it easier to fight the fish.
+ I have one floating out the back of the boat and I slowly release it with a berley trail.
+ A shallow one at the front has a balloon on it.
+ The final rod also has a ballon on it, but I let the line play out to 50 m before I attach the balloon, so I can cover all the water columns.

What’s the best shark fishing gear?

Best Shark Fishing Rig

There are several popular methods for making shark fishing rigs, and much of the choice will depend on the type of shark you’re hoping to catch and the location you’ll be fishing from. We’ve had great success using stainless-steel wire traces for our shark leaders and attaching one hook around 14/0 and single circle hooks around 16/0 and 18/0. We source all of our gear from Gone Fishin’ in Carrum Downs ’cause they have good quality fishing gear.

Best shark fishing rods and reels

Shark fishing is a battle between man and fish. These existential fights are generally as much about strategy as strength. It’s crucial you use a shark fishing reel that’s able to maintain responsive, smooth, and speedy action throughout each fight. Our go-tos are the super durable Daiwa Saltist MQ 20000 reel with 80 kg braid, with graphite rods and Penn International 50 VISW, also with 80 kg braid, with 24kg Penn rods

Best shark fishing hooks

Shark fishing is exciting primarily because these large, powerful fish always put up one heck of a battle when hooked. If you want to stand a fighting chance of coming out victorious, you have to use a hook that’s up to the task and won’t slip out or tear through under high tension. We prefer 14/0, 16/0, and 18/0 circle hooks placed in either a single-hook or two-hook configuration.

Best shark fishing line

We prefer 80 kg braid (you need strong stuff for these powerful beasts), which we often team with 150 metres of 80 kg mono top shot to a wide-on leader.

Best shark fishing bait

Sharks, especially Gummy sharks, tend to be fairly gluttonous and will eagerly grab most baits. We will often use fresh aero squid, trevally, slimy mackerel, and other fresh bait fished from the bait ground (pretty much whatever we can get). When needed we use, and will supply, frozen baits as well.
We use Gotcha Burley Logs floated off the back of the boat throughout each excursion. We pop them in a cleaning bag and continue to place logs in the bag throughout the trip.
We also create a continuous trail of Gotcha Supply Pilchards that’ve been cut into cubes prior to the trip. We pay close attention to this cubed pilchard trail, tossing another cube as soon as the previous one has disappeared to maintain a steady flow of bait for the entire trip. I never throw large amounts at once.

Safety precautions to take when fishing for shark

Now you’re hankering at the bit to go shark fishing, hang around just a bit longer for the safety talk. These are dangerous fish to have around your boat, so safety precautions are a must.

Fighting the shark is so much fun, in part because they just don’t want to come to the boat, I’ve seen Makos jump completely out of the air several times and take off with amazing runs. Other sharks have just been line screaming runs like a bullet train. And I’ve fought sharks for hours and have only seen them briefly before we can get them to the boat.

No matter what happens though, these are dangerous creatures. They pose a threat to you and those on your boat, and they can endanger people in the area surrounding your boat.

We always check the marine weather to ensure it’ll be safe to fish in Bass strait.

Maritime Safety Victoria has a great guide to staying safe out on the water, which you might want to download and read if you’re heading out for your first time.

Next, make sure you’ve got appropriate gear. I’ve outlined what we use here at I’m Hooked Fishing. You might choose to use different gear, but be certain you’ve got stuff that’s strong enough to hand the power of a shark.

If you end up hooking a big shark, you could be in for a massive battle. On our boat, we’ll put you in a gimble and harness, or just a gimble depending on how you’re going, to ensure you catch the shark. If you don’t have that kind of gear, don’t risk going out under your own steam. Book a charter with a company that’s fully kitted out with the best gear for shark fishing.

The best ways to handle and release a caught shark

Once you get the shark up to the boat, you encounter an entirely new set of dangers. Somehow you have to get the shark onto the boat if you’re going to keep it, or you have to figure out how to release it, all without getting your hand bitten off.
While some shark species are more aggressive than others, all varieties of sharks are large, powerful fish that are more than capable of causing serious injury, or in rare cases death, to unprepared or inexperienced fishermen.
If you’re planning on keeping the shark, land it as quickly as possible and dispatch it humanely. If you intend to release it, use either a dehooking tool or cut the line as close to the mouth as possible. The exception is if you’ve accidentally caught a great white shark or greynurse shark. Don’t try to remove the hooks from those species. Just cut them close to the shark.
If that bit makes you nervous, book a charter. Experienced shark anglers will help you get the job done quickly and safely, so you’ll know what to do the next time.

Shark fishing charters

Shark fishing charters are the ultimate way to ensure a hassle-free adventure that maximises your shark fishing experience. Professional shark fishing charters know the best locations to find the species of shark you’re looking for, and have the proper shark fishing set-ups to get you that prized catch. Most importantly, they’ll have harnesses to keep you safely in the boat when you’re trying to reel in your shark.

Here at I’m Hooked Fishing Charters, we live and breathe shark fishing, so can help you achieve your shark-catching dreams. And we always put our client’s safety first and the shark’s second, so you can be sure you’ll be in good hands with us. Our experienced team knows the best locations to find the species of shark you’re looking for and has the proper set-ups and safety equipment to ensure a successful and enjoyable trip.

So, if you’re looking for a hassle-free and safe shark fishing adventure, look no further than an offshore I’m Hooked Fishing charter. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to fulfil your shark-catching dreams — contact I’m Hooked Fishing Charters today to start planning your excursion!

Shark fishing FAQs

Do you still have questions? We have the answers! Check out our answers to the most frequently asked shark fishing questions below.

Is shark fishing legal in Australia?

Yes, shark fishing is legal in Victoria, Australia. That being said, you need a fishing license  For example, Victorian law prohibits targeting great white sharks and greynurse sharks. And if you accidentally catch one of those, you have to release it.

It’s also worth noting that you’re not allowed to fillet sharks in or on Victorian waters. You’ve got to keep them whole till you’re away from the water (on the cleaning tables at the boat ramp is ok).

What types of sharks can you catch in Victoria?

The waters off the coast of Victoria are home to several species of shark. The most common species include gummy sharks, school sharks, mako sharks, bronze whalers, thresher sharks, hammer head, seven gill, and white pointers.

What is the minimum legal size of shark you can keep?

The minimum legal size of shark you can keep depends on the species of shark.

The partial length of a Gummy Shark has to be at least 45 cm before you can keep it. The same goes for school sharks.

You’re not allowed to keep great white sharks and greynurse sharks.

For all other species of shark, there’s no minimum legal size.

What is the bag limit?

As with the minimum legal size, the shark bag limit depends on the species of shark.

You can keep up to two gummy sharks and/or school sharks. You’re not allowed to keep great white sharks and greynurse sharks.

For all other species of shark, the bag limit is one of each species.

When is shark fishing season?

You can catch sharks in Victorian waters at any time of the year, but they tend to be most active during warmer weather. So, summer is the best time to go shark fishing, but spring and autumn are good times too.

Is shark fishing sustainable?

Commercial and recreational fishing are both popular in Australia, and sharks typically have low reproduction rates and relatively small populations. Coupled together, this has the potentially to make shark fishing unsustainable. However, Australian authorities have worked in cooperation with marine biologists and ecologists to craft shark fishing guidelines designed to protect shark numbers and ensure Australian shark fishing is sustainable.

Start planning your shark fishing adventure today!

There you have it, you’re ready to get out there and catch the big one! When you are ready to start planning your next Australian shark fishing excursion, I’m Hooked Fishing Charters is ready and waiting to give you the experience of a lifetime!

For more dietary and preparation of shark for eating, see more information here.

Thanks for reading our Ultimate Shark Fishing Guide. We hope you enjoyed it.
Bookings can be made here: Bookings
Fishing data relating to sharks was obtained from Victorian Fishing Authority

This article “How To Catch Shark” was written by Malcolm May of I’m Hooked Fishing Charters