Shark week? Shark month!

Hot weather means hot fishing for a variety of shark species off South Carolina’s Grand Strand.

Anglers are catching sharks of all sizes

August kicks off with Shark Week, Discovery Channel’s longest-running summer series. And there is no shortage of sharks along South Carolina’s Grand Strand at the peak of the summer, when baitfish are super abundant.

Anglers can target a wide variety of shark species, from 3-foot bonnetheads in the estuaries to 800-pound tigers at the nearshore reefs. Regardless of which species is on the menu, the habitats are ideal to wrestle with one of these infamous fish.

Sharks get a bad reputation because of their starring roles in the Jaws movie series — and the occasional human encounter along the beachfront. But they are no different than bluefish, king mackerel, dolphin and any other predator fish in the ocean. Sharks feed on fish and anything they can find to eat in the ocean. Most gamefish look before they sink their teeth into a potential meal. But sharks take a bite first and see how it tastes. And that makes them easy targets for anglers.

Sharks come in to feed on abundance of baitfish

Sharks invade the coastal region of South Carolina in the summer to take advantage of the area’s abundant groceries. The coast serves as a nursery ground for a massive collection of fish, shrimp and other marine critters. And just like a lot of other marine predators, sharks slide up to the buffet to feast.

Tom Cushman of Captain Cush Calmwater Fishing Charters out of North Myrtle Beach catches a wide variety of shark species. These include everything from blacktips and spinners nearshore to huge tigers in the bluewater.

“The sharks will be concentrated in areas where the best feeding opportunities exist,” said Cushman (843-997-5850). “Fishing behind shrimp boats is an excellent way to find a concentration of sharks. Blacknose, spinners and hammerheads follow shrimp boats, waiting for the cull catch to be released. We catch them behind shrimp boats all summer.”

Sharks concentrate in areas where baitfish are abundant, and when the menhaden pods are thick along the beaches, sharks will be thick in these areas.

These sharks are a resource that every angler should respect

“We float live (menhaden) around the bait pods and catch sharpnose, blacktips, spinners, hammers and more,” he said.

For a different experience, Cushman will take his clients further offshore to catch some of the oversized giants, like 10-foot-plus tiger sharks and some big hammerheads.

“The wrecks and ledges offshore will always have some big sharks on them. And it can be fun to battle some real beasts,” he said.

Sharks have extremely sharp teeth, and stout terminal tackle is required. Cushman recommends using a 50- to 100-pound steel leader and a 5/0 circle hook.

Cushman practices catch-and-release fishing on his shark trips.

“They are a lot of fun to catch, but we take great care to release these great creatures. There is no reason to kill them,” he said.

Click here to read more about shark fishing off the Carolina coastline.

Jeff Burleson
About Jeff Burleson 1395 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.