In recent years, gummy shark numbers in Western Port have increased and it’s now one of the best fisheries in the southern half of Australia.
Given growing interest in the species amongst bay anglers, here are a few tips about bait presentation to improve your chances of catching one of these highly prized sharks.
Before we start I need to explain the rig and its components. I use the two-hook sliding rig. The top hook I’ve labelled as hook 1 and the bottom hook as hook 2.
Whole fresh squid heads are very effective on gummies. If you remove the head from the squid with your thumb and forefinger then the entrails should follow, leaving you with the hood for eating and the head for bait.
Avoid cutting the head from the squid because some of the entrails are used to anchor the head to your line.
Remove the head from the hood, pulling out the entrails as well.
Take the two-hook rig and measure where the hook placements should be.
Insert hook 1, the top hook on your rig, between the squid’s eyes and rotate it around so the hook point goes through the eyes.
Insert hook 2 into one of the large tentacles. Rotate the hook until it goes all the way through the tentacle.
Take some Bait Mate (elastic cotton) and wrap the entrails around the fishing line tightly, about 20 to 30 times. Snap off the Bait Mate and the head will sit tight and won’t scrunch up on the hooks.
Wrap some more Bait Mate around the end of the two large tentacles, binding them together. This stops the tentacles from tangling with the main piece of bait.
Fish fillets cut from salmon, tuna, slimy mackerel and trevally are all top gummy shark baits. They’re just as enticing as a squid bait when rigged the correct way.
Firstly, lay your chosen bait onto a cutting board. Take a sharp knife and fillet the fish, as you would if you were preparing fillets for a meal.
Once filleted, lay down the fillet skin side down so you have access to the flesh.
Locate the lateral line (the centre of the fillet that runs from head to tail) and run the knife directly down it, dividing the fillet into two pieces. If you’re using a tuna fillet you might need to cut it into four pieces due to the size of the fillet.
Take a piece of the fillet and using the two-hook rig, place hook 2 into the head end of the fillet (skin side). Rotate the hook around so the hook protrudes back through the fillet.
The hook point should now be facing towards the tail end of the fillet, which is the tapered or tail end of the fillet.
Take hook 1 and place it into the very tip of the tail end of the fillet. This will prevent any twisting in the current.
Pull any excess line between the two hooks tight leaving a small bow in the line for flexibility in the current.
Before placing either of the above baits into the water, test them next to the boat. It’s all about hook placement – experiment a bit to get it right.
THE CUT FILLET
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