Atlantic sharpnose sharks are common in the Gulf, and while they might not be the biggest or most exciting sharks to catch, they have an unusual characteristic that makes them a prime target: they taste good! Many sharks don’t taste all that great and some are downright inedible, but the sharpnose gets a thumbs-up at the dinner table.
Sharpnose are easily identified: they have an olive-gray back and white belly; a rounded snout; black edges on their fins, a groove around the jaw, and they usually have faint white spots on their back or sides. They can get to a little over three feet long, but most you catch will be between two and three feet long. So, how will you catch ’em?
Chumming is the number-one method for catching sharpnose, which will usually be found in the best numbers around the edges of shoals or in troughs from a few miles out to a dozen or so miles from the beach. Drop anchor along a depth change, and start the chum flowing at the surface. Then set back lines rigged on slip floats at staggered depths. (One at 15 feet, one at 25, and one at 35 feet would be a good starting point). Also set a couple of lines right on the bottom. The idea is to slack back the float lines so the different depth baits are at the depth where the chum is sinking down, so the shallowest line is closest to the boat and the deepest line is the farthest back. Keep track of how far back each line is when you set them out, so when you catch a fish, you can re-set the line at the same distance and depth. And if you’re not getting bites, try adjusting the float’s distances.
Rigs consist of five feet of 80-pound leader connected via swivel to a two-foot single-strand “piano” wire, Haywire-twisted to a 6/0 to 8/0 circle hook. Baits can run the gamut, but since the sharpnose isn’t too choosy about exactly what it eats most anglers prefer to use strips of tough fish so the bait doesn’t get stolen too often. Sharpies swear by false albacore as a top pick.
You enjoy catching sharks, and you enjoy eating your catch? The two aren’t always compatible – but if you’re targeting sharpnose sharks, you’re in luck!