Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips What kind of sharks am I catching In the surf?...Ocean City, MD
What kind of sharks am I catching In the surf?...Ocean City, MD

What kind of sharks am I catching in Ocean City, MD???

Anglers fishing in the surf and inlet in Ocean City, MD are catching lots of sharks this year.
Small sharks are often hard to tell apart. You really have to do some
studying to figure out which ones are which.

The most common shark is the smooth dogfish. Lots of people call them sand
sharks. We rarely see them longer than 4 feet. Juvenile dogfish are very
common in the surf and inlet areas. They don’t have sharp gnarly teeth like
most people think about sharks having but have flat blunt teeth that crush
and grind their food. Dogfish spawn in late spring and early summer. That’s
why we see some good-sized dogfish close to shore in the spring. Then
suddenly, there’s lots of baby dogfish in the summer. Kids love to catch
these little “sand sharks.” They don’t bite so there’s little danger in
them hurting you.

It’s cousin, the spiny dogfish can hurt you with it’s sharp spine, but the
spiny dogfish likes water temperatures under 59 degrees. We rarely see the
spiny dogfish in the summer on the shore.

“I caught a shark with teeth!”

There are only a handful of sharks that we are allowed to keep these days;
so most anglers release their catch. Even the “keepable” sharks must be 54
inches to the fork and anglers are allowed to keep one per day. The sharks
that must be released that you are likely to catch in the surf or inlet are
sand tiger and dusky sharks. You are allowed to keep a sand bar, thresher,
and a spinner shark. Dogfish aren’t considered sharks, and you can keep any
of those you want.

If you catch a shark with teeth, 9 times out of 10 it will be a dusky, sand
bar, or sand tiger shark. Dusky and sand bar sharks look very much alike.
Anglers are allowed to keep a 54-inch sand bar but must release a dusky. So
if you are interested in keeping a shark over 54 inches, you must study and
pictures and know how to tell them apart!

The dusky shark is gray or bluish-gray in color with a white belly. The
dorsal fins on the dusky are more sloped and the main fin is further back on
the shark than on the sand bar shark. On a sand bar shark, the dorsal fin is
higher and is further forward towards the head. The pectoral fin is larger
and more triangular on the sand bar shark.
(http://na.nefsc.noaa.gov/sharks/species/duskysandbar.html) has a great
picture showing the subtle differences in the sharks. If you have a magnify
glass out on the beach with you, according to NOAA, you can see that the
scales on the dusky shark are overlapping and shingle-like, while the
sandbar shark scales are separated and more like cobblestones.

Sand tiger sharks have two large dorsal fins that are almost the same size.
In the other sharks, the second dorsal fin is much smaller. Large teeth are
seen in three rows on each side of the upper jaw. Their teeth are gnarly
and look like tiger’s teeth. Don’t even think about getting your fingers
near these teeth!

“I want to catch a shark!”

The surf, Ocean Pier, or Inlet is the best place to catch them. Since sharks
are nocturnal, your best bet is to fish at night, but you can also catch
them first thing in the morning. High tide is best, because the sharks come
closer into shore to feed.

“What kind of rig should I use?”

Any kind of large bluefish rig made with some steelon wire, 60-pound test,
with a surf float next to the hook will work. Most of these sharks aren’t
“Jaws.” If you go too big, you will only be fishing for sharks and may miss
a nice bluefish or striper. A single leader hook with a large surf float is
best if you are going to throw your bait out there and leave it for a while.
Lots of times, anglers fish with two rods. One with a big bait, and another
rod with smaller baits. If you use a two-hook rig, crabs clean off the
baits more often, so it has to be checked every 10-15 minutes or so. A
single leadered hook with a larger surf float is elevated off the bottom a
couple feet and the crabs generally leave it alone. Some anglers like to
use a whole fish head for big sharks, but in general, chunks of bait will
get you more variety and sizes of sharks.

If you catch a fresh, legal fish with your smaller rod, you can cut it up
for bait. A fresh spot head or chunk is a wonderful shark bait. So is a
small kingfish head.

Sea Striker makes a FBS3D-RWB Bluefish Surf Rig that makes a good shark rig.
Bait it up with something smelly that will attract a shark. Fresh or
freshly frozen bunker, mullet chucks, a whole small squid, or any kind of
mackerel or bunker fillet, or fresh cut up bluefish will all work. Sharks
have a keen sense of smell and see best in low light conditions.

“The kids just want to catch some sand sharks!”

Smooth dogfish or sand sharks are prevalent in the surf or Ocean Pier. Any
type of high/low surf rig baited with squid strips will catch sand sharks.
There are lots of small sand sharks in the summer and since the fish don’t
have sharp teeth, wire leaders are not necessary. Sand sharks won’t hurt
you. To take them off the hook, simply hold them with a rag and take the
hook out.

Look first; to make sure you don’t catch a shark with teeth. If you hook a
toothy critter, use a pair of long handled pliers. Keep your finger far away
from the mouth! Make sure you have a bright light with you if you are
fishing at night, so you can see.

Since some sharks are larger, you want to look for a beach with a decent
drop-off or slough, and fish at high tide. There’s not a lot of finesse to
fishing for sharks. Just throw it out there and wait. If you are fishing
low tide, walk out as far as you can, then cast out as far as you can. Shark
generally hook themselves.

Some anglers paddle a bait out in a Kayak. Be very careful doing this kind
of thing. Only experienced fishermen should get involved in paddling baits
out. I’ve heard too many stories of a “close call.”

“Sharks in the surf! I’m scared to go swimming…”

Generally, sharks are just as scared of you as you are of them. Most are
solitary and luckily, most of our shark species around Ocean City are not
the more aggressive species. More sharks are seen at night than during the
daytime. But, if you see a shark swimming in the surf close to shore, I
wouldn’t jump in and swim with it!

“Something took my line and slowly kept on going. I couldn’t even turn it
around. Was it a shark?”

Sometimes anglers hook a big ray in the surf. These rays can go upwards of
40 to 60 pounds. They just hug the bottom and slowly keep on going taking
your bait, line, and rig with it. Sharks generally run and fight more like
a fish. That’s why it’s important to set your drag when placing your rod in
a rod holder. A big ray or hefty shark will pull your rod right into the
water and keep on going…

Some anglers consider sharks a nuisance, while other anglers fish for them.
Have fun, be careful, take pictures, and release them if they have teeth and
you don’t know what kind they are!

Good fishing in Ocean City, MD…

Need bait and tackle? Come see us at Oyster Bay Tackle, Ocean City, Maryland (410-524-3433) or Fenwick Tackle, Fenwick Island, Delaware (302-539-7766), OR Shop Online!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 March 2011 01:01