Hard fighting, challenging to catch,rewarding to fish for and fantastic on the dinner plate, what’s not to love about the gummy shark? These toothless sharks have been a prized catch for many anglers, and arguably the most popular choice at the fish and chip shop!Accessible from both boat and for landbased anglers, this guide, like all of my guides will be focusing on catching this elusive fish from the land.
Gummy sharks can be caught all year round, however, the months of September – March are arguably the best option for landbased fishing. Not only are the nights warmer and more comfortable, the catch rate for landbased anglers seems to always be that little bit higher during this peak season, the tail end of this season also gives way to Elephantfish season, another exciting by-catch for keen landbased fishermen. Gummy sharks feed all times of the day and night, however, in the cover of darkness is when they move further into the shallows, making them a more realistic target for those fishing from the shore, nights coinciding with a close moon cycle (either full or new) often produce more fish, especially on the days leading up to a new/full moon. Tide is situational and depends on your location,a beach such as Lang Lang is unfishable during low tide, on the flip side, Stockyard Point cannot be reached on a high tide. Some beaches such as Merricks Beach and Somers will fish well on both incoming and outgoing tides, always fish two hours either side of the tide change for best results.
As long casts are important in this game, a rod of 12-14’ length is ideal, the choice of braid or monofilament is a personal one, but my rule is: Fibreglass rod = Monofilament, Graphite rod =Braided line, this is due to the flexibility of a fibreglass rod, and extra pulling power, whereas the graphite rod is lighter and the lightness of the braid can be used to provide a longer cast. 20-30lb main line is my recommendation, with a 6m shock leader of 60lb Black Magic Supple trace when fishing braided line, the shock leader allows for easier knot tying, less cuts when casting, better abrasive resistance and a good defence from those pesky gummy rolls!
Gummy sharks will take baits presented on a variety of rigs, running sinker rigs fish well when a long cast is not required, and paternoster rigs can also produce their fair share of sharks, be wary of using multiple hook rigs on larger models due to the shark’s tendency to roll and snap dropper loops. Our favourite rig for gummy sharks is undoubtedly the Rowmix rig, it is a modified breakaway rig that performs similar to a running sinker rig, but with superior casting distance, adding longer casts to any fisherman’s abilities, outcasting all other rigs. This extra distance can be the difference between a fish and a donut, especially when long casts are essential in situations like surf beaches with distant gutters. The Rowmix rig is an Oz Fish TV exclusive and can be purchased from our store. Sinkers need to be heavy enough to hold bottom when using larger baits such as pilchards, eel and squid heads, for Westernport we like to use a 6oz bomb sinker, this is reduced to a 4oz for Port Phillip and changed to a 6oz star or grapnel sinker for surf fishing. Hook sizes can vary, with Black Magic 6/0 and 7/0 K/L Circle hooks being an excellent choice, or twin snelled Black Magic 6/0 Suicide hooks for fishing when the chance of other species such as snapper and mulloway is apparent. We like to fish 60lb Black Magic Supple trace for our leaders, it is soft enough for rig tying but strong enough to stop stingrays and other unwanted by-catch, meaning more time for your bait in the water.
Speaking of bait in the water, bait selection is arguably the most important gear choice when targeting gummy sharks. Gummies belong to the Hound Shark family, and use their keen sense of smell to find prey rather than electrical pulses similar to other sharks. Gummy sharks can sniff bait out at extreme distances, and are more likely to follow the scent of a fresher, more palatable smell than that of an older bait. Fresh bait always works best for gummies and if you have the time to catch some salmon, trevally or calamari before heading down to chase gummy sharks, you will see your catch rate skyrocket! Pilchards and frozen baits will also catch gummy sharks but often with less success, for muddy beaches riddled with soldier crabs, our secret weapon of choice is fresh banana prawns from the supermarket, these are gummy shark lollipops and they cannot resist them!Present your bait well with good hook exposure to allow your hook to find its place in the strong jaws of the shark.
Ah location, the secret ‘Spot X’ for gummy sharks, experience gummy shark anglers will tell you that there is no magic spot where you can catch gummy sharks 100% of the time, gummy shark fishing requires patience and persistence. Some of Melbourne’s best landbased locations such as Stockyard Point and Merricks Beach will turn up zero fish time after time, you will need to put in the hours to find these tricky sharks.Gummy sharks can be found among most beaches of Westernport, and many of the Piers of Port Phillip Bay, look for beaches with a soft bottom, and rocky patches for crabs and other small crustaceans to live in, as these are what the gummies often look for when coming in at night to feed. When surf fishing, look for entrances between gutters and focus your efforts there, as the waves break and reform, fish the pockets that consistently show no wave activity, as this indicates deeper water and accessible food for gummy sharks. A few places to start include:
Stockyard Point (Jam Jerrup, Westernport)
Tenby Point (Corinella, Westernport)
Lang Lang Beach (Jetty Lane, Westernport)
Cowes Pier (Phillip Island)
Rhyll Pier (Phillip Island)
Portsea Pier (Port Phillip)
This guide is to help you land more gummies from the land, I always see people asking for the secrets to catching more gummies, the real secret is patience, persistence and fresh bait, follow these rules and you will see your efforts rewarded. Gummy sharks require experience and time on the water, as long as you’re on the beach fishing you’re a step in the right direction!