Author: Malibu Jack
What Are Leopard Sharks
When it comes to LBSF in California, Leopard sharks are the easiest and most abundant species to be caught. These sharks are often seen by surfers and hunt in anywhere from 1ft of water to several hundred feet deep. Catching these sharks is obtainable for any angler no matter what their experience level is, and is entertaining for even the most experienced of fisherman. These sharks are really entertaining and are a good excuse to get your buddies and your family out fishing. Pay attention to the information below and get ready for tight lines, and good times.
What Gear to Use
When targeting this fish from land it is highly recommended to a have a reel equipped with 15-30lb BullBuster mono or 20-50lb BullBuster braid. The reel I personally recommend for catching these fish is a Qualia NLF 70 for spinning tackle or a Qaulia 12 HS and a rod of your choice. Keep in mind that when fishing from the surf it is important to keep your line above the waves and a longer rod is very helpful, but when it comes to fishing from other other platforms such as piers this is not an issue. The first step to catching these fish is to make the rig. There are many different rigs to make for these sharks and essentially any rig you prefer to use will work. Personally I like to use a carolina rig with Bullbuster leader line from 60lb-100lb mono tied to a 75lb or 100lb BullBuster swivel and a 3/0 to a 6/0 circle hook. When it comes to the weight a 3-6oz is recommended so that your rig holds the bottom properly and you can stay in the bight zone. Nothing is worse than having slack line in the surf so make sure to keep it tight and above the waves. After you have casted your bait, either put your reel in free spool with the clicker on, or for spinning tackle engage the drag slightly so it does not birdsnest. If your reel has too much pressure the fish will topple the rod over, and nobody wants that.
What Bait To Use
Leopard Sharks are not picky at all, and like most sharks will eat almost anything. Although they eat almost anything, some baits seem to entice the fish to bite more than others. On the West coast we refer to these baits as “Candy”. The candy for Leopard sharks is squid and pacific mackerel chunks, but herring, anchovies, sardines, and sand crabs all work effectively. When pinning your bait onto the hook make sure to position the hook so that it will not fall out under the pressure of casting and make sure to expose it enough so that it will properly hook into the fish. Essentially look for the harder parts of the fish, such as the nose, and pin it there. When using mushier baits that are more prone to fly off bait thread is recommended. Wrapping the bait thread around a soft sardine will allow the hook to stay in connection with the bait. Nothing is worse than watching that precious bait fly into the ocean while the fish are chewing. Make sure to also keep your bait out of the blistering sun.
Regulations to Leopard Sharks
I recommended releasing this fish and practicing CPR, but it's always good to know the regulations that California DFW has on keeping them. The daily bag and possession limit is 3 fish with a minimum size limit of 36 inches total length.
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