Shark Fishing – Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Shark

Shark Fishing in Shallow Waters

 By Capt. Charlie Beadon

Hilton Head SharkOn the shallow water flats we often overlook one of the hardest fighting and most explosive fish…sharks. These guys may not be good for eating, but they provide great action on light tackle often making long runs and hard head shakes. The best part is that sharks are numerous on the flats and are always willing to take bait. On the shallow flats look to catch bonnet heads, black tips and duskies.

To get started let’s look at the tackle that you will need. Most of the sharks in shallow water will be 2-15 pounds so you don’t need heavy tackle. Use a 10-12 pound class spinning outfit and hang on! For fishing on the bottom I generally use a 1 ounce egg sinker on a Carolina rig, 2 foot of 40 pound monofilament leader and a 2/0 circle hook. The circle hook is great because the fish hook themselves and because they almost always get hooked in the corner of the mouth you rarely get cut off by the shark’s teeth. For sight fishing I use a straight 40 pound monofilament leader tied directly to a 2/0 circle hook.

Next let’s look at the various bait that you may use to catch sharks. For the most part sharks are scavengers. They will chase down a live fish, but prefer to take dead fish. You can use a lot of different baits to include: mullet, menhaden, shrimp, crab and squid. The key to using dead or cut bait is to allow the bait to lie naturally on the bottom or to drift it freely in the current. No self respecting shark will touch a dead bait that is moving up current along the bottom.

Hilton Head Shark FishingWhen and where do we need to go to target sharks in shallow water. The sharks are always there, but the best time to go after them is around the low tides. At this time most of the bait fish are pushed out of the marsh and concentrated around creek mouths, grass edges and oyster bars and this is where the sharks will be as well. On some flats the sharks will cruise around the shallows with the top third of their bodies exposed in search of food. This provides a great opportunity for sight fishing; simply position yourself in front of the cruising fish and pitch a bait to him. If the sharks are not cruising the shallows simply anchor up along the edge of the shore line and soak cut baits on the bottom in 2-8 feet of water.

Remember that sharks do have razor sharp teeth and are wild animals so be careful when handling them. Many times I recommend cutting the leader close to the hook rather than trying to remove the hook and take a risk of being bitten. If you take this approach ensure that you use tin hooks that will rust within a few weeks and leave the fish unharmed. Do not use treble hooks, as these can catch both the upper and lower jaw, sewing the fishes mouth shut in which case it would be unable to feed. Good luck and tight lines!


Captain Charlie Beadon