The “gummy shark”, also known as the Australian smooth hound, flake, Sweet William or smooth dog-shark is a common and highly regarded catch in the southern Australian waters. New Zealand has a similar shark, most widely known as Rig, which also receives the nickname “gummy shark” due to the similar teeth, or lack of.
Over the years gummy sharks have been a commercial fishing target due to their excellent eating. They’re regularly served up in fish n chip shops, battered with a side of hot chips and tomato sauce, so it’s no wonder these sharks have become a target species for recreational fishermen as well.
Karl Wilkinson and Brendon Hogg are two keen fishermen from Western Port in Melbourne, Australia. They target gummy sharks regularly and have recently started sharing their experiences with video on Facebook and Instagram, via their channel ‘Krakka Yakkaz‘. When we asked if they would like to write a list of tips and techniques to help other anglers on the pursuit of the gummy sharks, they jumped at the opportunity. These are their words…
Weather Conditions & Location
We fish out of Western Port in Melbourne, Australia, which is an enclosed bay with two main entrances to the open seas. Following the weather closely and looking for days with northerly winds 0 to 15kts and a low swell of up to 1.8m is our main recipe for success. We have five different locations that we launch out of. These are between Somers and Flinders depending on run in or run out tides. In these areas, there are channels that run through scattered reef which provides homes for crustaceans. Gummy sharks love to feed on them!
Also, you will get the big girls who come in to drop their young around April to July.
Western Port Bay in Melbourne, Australia is a common fishing ground for gummy shark anglers. The various tidal channels provide a vast amount of fishing locations.
When Spring rolls around, we tend to catch a lot of good eating size gummy shark, which are generally 1-1.2m long and up to 8kg. The springtime also provides a hot bite due to the water temperature rising, which seems to turn the fish on. We pedal out and fish anywhere from 1.5km to 4km off the beach, sitting in 5m to 10m deep. We will concentrate our efforts fishing sand holes as during low tide the bait fish will head into these holes and the gummy’s will swoop in for a feed. Due to this behaviour, we spend time at home looking at Google maps and marine charts to locate where the best holes are. Once we decide on a spot we will use Navionics on the water to find the right depth reading. We have also found that when fishing holes we have had fewer snags, which is always a bonus.
During our gummy fishing we have learnt that gummy’s have a tendency to do a death roll up your leader and main line if you’re not careful, this tends to happen when you don’t let them run. In some cases, you have to be aggressive and try to stop them from busting you off on reef, so having strong terminal tackle is vital. We use Black Magic line and leader for it’s widely regarded and proven durability. We use the 50lb Rainbow Braid Elite and connect this to 80lb or 100lb Tough or Supple Trace.
We run 2 types of rigs for gummy shark fishing…
Rig 1) A running sinker rig, which starts with a ball sinker sliding down to a swivel then on to another 1m length of 80lb to 100lb Tough or Supple Trace with a double snell set up. The bottom hook being an 8/0 KL or KLT followed up by a 6/0 KS or DX Point, with 2 lumo beads above the DX or KS hook.
The Black Magic hooks are fantastic and continue to prove their quality in terms of hook up rate and strength time and time again. We cannot recommend Black Magic hooks enough.
Alternatively, if you prefer the convenience of pre-made rigs, then you can’t look past the Gummy Snatcher. They are purpose made for gummy fishing and will often outperform all other rigs being used. Their flasher material has extremely high UV and the gummy sharks just turn on when they see it. They are hand rigged in NZ and tied with quality hooks and leader. You can’t go wrong.
Bait & Berley
We berley up with a ‘Gotcha’ 2kg berley block and consistently mush up pilchards into the water by hand. This flow is as important for gummy fishing as it is for snapper fishing. One advantage of this worth noting is that whilst targeting gummy’s you should not be surprised to catch some snapper too, or vice versa.
On a paternoster rig we use a pilchard on the top hook and a fleshy fish fillet bait either; trevally, slimy mackerel or yakka on the bottom hook as a chunk bait. 9 times out of 10 the gummy will take the bottom hook!
With a bait for the running sinker rig we like to use a fillet of a fleshy bait as well or a pilchard. Firstly, we like to go with the bottom hook through the gill or thicker side of the fillet. Then, pin the top hook on the pilchards tail or point of fillet. This makes the bait presentation spot on, which will catch you more fish!
When we are waiting on the bite we have our drags set loose which allows the gummy shark to take a run with the bait and ensure a good hook is set in it’s mouth when we lock up. Once hooked up, they will give big head shakes and big side to side runs. Being in the kayak they will pull you around in circles and sometimes drag the anchor. They fight to the end and never give up which makes it an awesome fish to catch! Once on board they can be very hard to handle as they thrash around until they are either put back or put down.
We bleed the fish straight away by cutting the underside from gill to gill. In our opinion, this is the best way to prepare your catch for the table. Gummy shark is an amazing fish to eat! Most people enjoy eating this type of fish beer battered and deep fried. Enjoy!