All summer, the internet has lit up with tales of shark attacks along the Carolina coast, as well as hapless kayak anglers being overturned by big sharks. In reality, sharks are a common gamefish along the coasts of both Carolinas and make for exciting sport, especially when landed from a kayak.
Despite all the hype, Brad Knight of the Hobie Fishing Team said fishing for sharks from a kayak is no more dangerous than fishing for any other large saltwater fish. He said sharks can be found in both inshore and nearshore waters, but he prefers to stay inside, targeting sharks from his kayak in inlets and bays near the ocean.
“If you find a deep hole where two rivers meet, or a drop-off inside a sandbar at the mouth of an inlet, both of those are good places where sharks will hunt for prey,” he said.
While many anglers catch sharks from 1- to 3-feet-long while fishing for other species, Knight said anglers who specifically target larger sharks need to be prepared with appropriate tackle, wire leaders, and plenty of heavy line.
“I use about 6 feet of 135-pound stranded wire, then attach 20 feet of 80- to 100-pound mono to that as a shock leader,” he said. “A lot of the blacktips and spinner sharks you find along our coast will jump clear out of the water, and you need that shock leader to keep them from breaking off.”
Knight said sharks are known to eat anything, but he prefers to use croaker, whiting, small rays or other local species for bait. He will butterfly the bait whole, then either drift it downcurrent over the hole or drop-off or weight the cut bait and cast it along the drop.
“If you’re fishing from a kayak, a big shark in the 5- to 7-foot range will require you to come off the anchor and chase it, or at least have it pull you around” he said. “Most anglers like that sleigh ride – being pulled around by the fish – which is why they choose to fish from a kayak in the first place, but rig the line so you can break away in a hurry when a big one is on the line.”
See the attached video for some live shark action scenes and additional tips on kayak shark fishing.