Catching Western Port Gummy sharks

Tell any fisherman who doesn’t live in Victoria or SA that you’re going to spend the night targeting a shark that fights hard and is great eating and you will probably raise a few odd looks.

This cold water species is a prized catch in the southern waters of Australia where fisherman target them year round with a range of locations producing these hard pulling fish either land based or from a boat.

Joel Ryan with an 18kg WP Gummy shark

Joel Ryan with an 18kg WP Gummy shark

When

Gummys are caught all year round, although they do slow down during winter. Prime months are Dec-May.

Where

Gummy sharks inhabit waters around southern Australia from Shark Bay in WA to Port Stephens in NSW anywhere from tidal inlets, ocean beaches and deep offshore.

When targeting gummy sharks tidal entrances are home to large populations of these sharks and hotspots like the channels of Western Port Bay, Southern Port Phillip Bay & Port Welshpool all regularly produce great catches of Gummys.

The Gummy sharks move up and down these tidal channels feeding along the way on crabs, fish and any other scraps they find along the bottom. On the incoming tide Gummys will cruise up along the edges of the deeper channels, and up onto the shallow sandy flats to feed, then as the tide runs back out, they pass back along the banks and back into the deeper channels. By understanding this correctly we can position our baits to be sitting right in their path.

Tide plays a large part when fishing any of these areas with the most productive time to fish deep water marks being 2 hours either side of a tide change. This is when the water is moving slowest and you will be able to keep your baits on the bottom. When fishing shallower however it’s often mid tide that produces a better bite.

Here are a couple of Gummy GPS marks to get started:

Western Port

 Boucher channel entrance. Fish the whole run out tide here:

38.16.441S

145.24.012E

Top end. Fish near a tide change

38.16.383S

145.21.571E

Buoy 14. Fish the end of the run out, you will need some size 12-16oz sinkers here

38.25.586S

145.12.945E

 Port Philip Bay

Rye. Fish 2 hours either side of a tide change

38.18.966S

144.46.423E

Fish the outgoing tide

38.19.272S

144.48.175E

Port Welshpool

Franklin Channel

38 45 722 S

146 22 919 E

Singapore Deep channel

38 48 226 S
146 30 555 E

Cameron Macnaughton with a nice sized Western Port Gummy

Cameron Macnaughton with a nice sized Western Port Gummy

Bait

Fresh bait will out fish anything else every time!

Number one Gummy baits are fish with lots of smell and oil, and a nice firm flesh. Salmon is my personal favourite, but not always available to have them fresh. Trevally, Yakka’s, Coota, Snook, Garfish and Squid are all prime baits. Cured eel is a great option to have, even if just a backup in case you can’t catch any fresh bait on the day. I always like to have at least one eel bait in the water, even if it doesn’t catch a fish, I think the scent is picked up along way down the channel and helps bring the Gummys up to your baits.

Baits can be rigged in a variety of ways depending on the rig, and the bait.

For fish like Salmon, squid rings, Yakka’s & Snook I like to use a cutlet rigged with a single 8/0 circle hook:

For baits like eel, fish fillets or Squid strips I like to rig as either a hang bait with a single 8/0 circle hook:

OR snelled with a 4/0 J hook on the top, and an 8/0 circle hook on the bottom:

Tackle:

 When fishing fast moving water and heavy sinkers braid dominates.

20-30pound braid, with a 40pd shock leader to a 60pd trace is the normal set up.

A reel like a Shimano Charter special or Shimano Saragosa have good quality drags and hold a decent amount of line.

A 6-10kg rod with either an overhead or spin reel will have no problems stopping the biggest of Gummys plus give you plenty of stopping power on the unwanted rays & skates. The rod wants to have a solid butt and lower section to lift the heavy sinkers, but still have a light enough tip to see the sometimes tentative Gummy bites.

Rigs:

We use a Ezi rig slider, with the metal clip removed and a 15cm 20pd mono loop tied onto this to attach the sinkers. We use the length of this mono loop to help keep the bait up just off the bottom to try and help minimise the rays & skates eating your baits. This Ezi rig is on the main line, above a quality barrel swivel rated to 80pd.

This is tied to a 1.2m length of 60pd trace; I like to use the Black Magic supple trace because I find it very strong, and easy to tie knots with. At the bottom of this trace I run a couple of lumo beads and then either a single 8/0 Circle or a snelled 4/0 J hook above an 8/0 circle depending on the baits we’re using.

 

Tips:

-Don’t burley. Don’t even throw old bait scraps over! Gummys have an amazing sense of smell and they will find your bait. By putting out burley all you will do is bring in the rubbish fish.

-Do it in the dark. When fishing shallow at night try and avoid turning any lights on (other than your anchor light for safety) and keep noise to a minimum.

-check baits regularly. Sea lice & other pickers will destroy your baits.

-fish around the full moon, sharks are a lot more active during these periods.

-run light drags and when you see the rod start doing the tell-tale ‘gummy bounce’ in the holder wait until it starts striping line or really loads up before setting the drag and slowly lifting the rod to set that circle hook.

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a nice WP Gummy shark before release. Fish took a Yakka chunk with a circle hook which makes it very easy to release these bigger fish

 

 


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