How to catch gummy sharks
Gummy sharks are more prevalent in the southern tidal parts of Port Phillip. They are encountered in the northern half of the bay, sometimes as a welcome bycatch while targeting snapper. When pursuing a hard fighting gummy, head south and look for channels and drop offs, which are like highways for gummies. They move along these terrains in search of food, primarily crabs. Any reef sections in these areas will be productive too. Gummies of all sizes can be caught year round. Be mindful of anchoring outside shipping channels when trying to set up your boat near a drop off. A couple of rods can be fished at a time, no more than four, because strong currents have a habit of pulling lines together and tangling. Fishing through an entire tide without moving is a common approach for gummy shark fishing because baits emit scent and gummies will swim up-current if they smell potential food. Fishers should expect to catch a variety of rays and other sharks like Port Jacksons before a gummy finds the bait. Strong tackle is needed to deal with this bycatch. When a gummy is hooked it will often make several powerful runs before coming boat side. A strong net is recommended because they tend to roll in the boat and can destroy rods and gear as they thrash about. Cutlet hang baits of fresh trevally and salmon, or squid rings do best. Once baited, rods should be placed in sturdy rod holders after being fed down the current to the bottom. This careful deployment avoids tangles and ensures the bait and rig are aligned properly in the water for the best chance of a hook up.
With gummies being great fighters, and the chance of big by-catch, tackle needs to be strong in the fast currents of southern Port Phillip! Rods should be around 7ft and rated 10-15kg with a 5000 or larger sized spin reel or equivalent overhead. The main line should be 30-50lb braid with a rod length leader of 60lb monofilament. It’s widely accepted that a running sinker rig is ideal using an Ezi Rig or similar sliding device which allows you to change bomb sinker size in accordance with the strength of the tide. A single 6/0-7/0 circle hook is ideal. Don’t forget a large and sturdy landing net, you will need it!
On a high tide at night, gummy sharks cruise into shallow water in search of crabs. This is the best time for shore-based fishers to target them. A long cast will reach at least a metre or so of water depth where gummies patrol gutter edges. Piers enable you to fish deeper, but some beaches are also worth exploring. Wherever you settle on fishing, you will need to be patient.
Surf fishing equipment is good to handle gummies, by-catch and the need for a long cast. Select a 10-14ft fibreglass or composite rod and a 6000-10,000 sized spin reel spooled with 30-40lb braid. A long leader of 40-50lb monofilament is tied to a long dropper/paternoster rig where the sinker is on the bottom. 6/0-7/0 circle hooks are ideal and should suit the size of the bait, leaving plenty of hook exposed.