We all know bull sharks live in our rivers, and in fact, pretty much every river system from Sydney in the east, all access the top of the country and down to about Perth in Western Australia has a population of juvenile bull sharks. What many don’t realise, however, is that they can be caught quite easily with a few simple tools, provide great sport, and for those who like a feed of flake, they cook up okay as well!
Bait for bullies isn’t anything to stress over. Live baits such as mullet, herring and garfish are fine, and dead baits such as any fillet bait - with eel being one of the best - stingray flap and ox heart are proven performers.
Getting rigged for these toothy predators is where things get a little more complicated. Given that you can fish for them weighted or unweighted, on the bottom or under a float, means there are many ways to rig up. What’s important is that you have a wire trace, as while you might land a few using a monofilament trace, eventually you will have your rig bitten off. Some trusted wire trace material is Halco Single Strand Wire Trace, Mason Singlestand Stainless Steel Wire Leader and Kokoda Nylon Coated Wire.
Hooks are another area where anglers have an excellent range to choose from, however in recent years there has been a shift toward the use of circle hooks, as they consistently hook fish in the corner of the jaw, preventing any swallowing of the hook.
Finding a spot to fish for bullies in a river is easy. Basically, any deep water on an outside bend or in a channel is fine. While you don’t need a boat for this fishing, a boat is handy for positioning yourself upstream of where you want to drift your bait to.
Once a bait is taken, it pays to allow the shark 5-10 second to run with the bait before engaging the reel. The range of Baitrunner reels from Shimano are perfect for this style, with the Baitrunner D, Baitrunner OC and Thunnus C14 Baitrunner all allowing the reels to be free spooled and then engaged by simply turning the reel handle.
If using circle hooks, resist the urge to strike, as this will pull the hook out of the shark’s mouth. Instead, engage the reel, and allow the sharks to gradually load the rod and hook itself, hopefully in the corner of the jaw.
Once connected to a bull shark, you’ll notice the fight is hard and erratic, with sharks changing direction often. Occasionally, you’ll hook a bull shark that jumps, adding to the fun and excitement.
Once boatside, it pays to have a net, or a pair of long-nose pliers to release the shark without lifting it aboard. These juvenile bull sharks, while small, still have razor-sharp teeth and can damage human flesh.
While this is generally a summer activity, warmer climates should provide good bull shark angling year round. Another nice thing about them is they will bite when other targets will not, and are a great plan B to have up your sleeve.
Don’t don’t knock back the humble bull shark for a bit of fun!
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