How to Land a Thresher Shark: Read This First

September 29, 2021

Catching a big game fish may sound like a true test of courage and skills to a lot of anglers, and for many of them, such a test means landing a shark! Those large killing machines with huge teeth and big fins are found all over the deep blue waters.

One of the most impressive types of sharks is the thresher shark. This impressive shark is known for its uniquely long tail and high jumps out of the water.

If you want to know how to land a thresher shark, you’re in for a treat! In today’s article, we’ll walk you through an in-depth guide that walks you through all the steps you need to take to catch the trophy fish. So without further ado, let’s jump right in!

About Thresher Sharks

thresher shark swimming

The common thresher sharks are pretty unique both in terms of looks and behaviors. The relatively large shark is known for its distinctively long tail that is as long as the rest of its body and helps them propel out of the water to astonishing heights!

The tail is also one of the shark’s most powerful weapons, as it uses it to maim its prey with powerful blows before devouring them.

Thresher sharks belong to a large group of lamniform sharks that are classified under the Alopiidae family. 

The shark is not a small one and it gets significantly big the older it gets. In fact, a thresher shark will usually grow as large as 400 lbs in deep blue waters!

The distinctive looks of the shark have earned it a wide variety of alternative names, such as long tailed shark and swivel tail shark. 

However, the most popular nicknames of the shark are fox shark and sea fox, which is derived from the fact that foxes also have a tail as large as the rest of their bodies. The fish is found in a wide variety of places, including the west coast of North America.

Is Catching Thresher Sharks Legal?

Due to overhunting, a lot of shark species out there became endangered, so they’re protected by various international laws that outlaws hunting them. This includes a variety of sharks, such as Great White Sharks, Tiger Sharks, and Whale Sharks.

You should keep in mind that Thresher sharks are actually included on the red list of venerable species of sharks by the IUCN. However, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife allows anglers to keep up to two sharks per day without being limited to a specific size limit.

This makes it legal to catch thresher sharks in the region while keeping the daily limit in mind to conserve the thresher shark population. Ideally, make sure that you obtain a marine fishing license and check the local regulations to stay on the safe side.

A Step by Step Guide to Help You Land a Thresher Shark

caught thresher shark

Now that you know more about the thresher shark and whether it’s legal to catch one, it’s time to find out more about landing it. Here’s a quick guide that will help you with the process:

Step 1:  Prepare Your Equipment 

As previously mentioned, catching a large game fish, let alone a shark, is never an easy feat. For that reason, you should always make sure that you get into the right kind of fishing gear that will help you make the job as easy as possible.

The choice of gear mainly depends on the way you’re catching the shark. When it comes to thresher sharks, anglers can either fish from piers or use their boat to go into deeper spots of the ocean.

To catch a shark, you need to use an extra heavy duty pole that is designed for fishing in the deep blue sea. In that case, the PENN Carnage II Surf Casting Rod seems like a suitable option for the job. 

Yet, you should keep in mind that if you’re renting a fishing boat, in many cases, you may be provided with fishing gear along with the package. The fishing rod should be designed to handle heavy duty braided monofilament lines.

Moreover, remember to get yourself secured to the boat using fishing harnesses to lock you in place. Lastly, you should always use circle hooks instead of J hooks. 

This makes the “catch and release” easier and less stressful for the sharks and increases their chances of surviving because it doesn’t inflict serious injuries or get caught into the shark’s stomach like J hook.

Step 2: Learn How and When to Find a Thresher Shark

One of the keys to land a thresher shark is to find the proper time and spot to land one. This automatically increases your chances of landing a thresher shark, since a lot of them will be in the area.

Ideally, the coast of California and its piers are among the ideal spots to find the thresher sharks because of their abundance and the regulations that let anglers fish for sharks there. 

Some experts may also recommend specific spots where populations of sharks are known to be common, such as the coastal region between Imperial Beach and Santa Barbara, especially Newport Beach.

Threshers are most abundant during their mating season, so you’re more likely to land a shark if you go fishing during late spring and all the way to early summer.

Step 3: Use a Suitable Bait

Like all other sharks, their predatory nature makes them extremely attracted to anything bloody that is thrown into the water. They’re also drawn to signs of struggle or being stunned in the water.

The act of luring fish to your spot by using bloody fish guts is known as “chumming”, and is considered illegal in many states, including California.

Instead, you’ll need to use a baitfish to attract the thresher. The most common type of fish that anglers use to land threshers is mackerel. However, you can also use sardines and get the same results.

You can either use live or dead mackerel for the job, and your approach will change depending on your pick. Dead bait fish will give you more control while live bait fish will attract the sharks better.

Step 4: Apply the Right Technique to Land the Shark

Once you’ve settled on your rig and prepared your bait, it’s time to head on to the water and catch the shark. 

One thing you should know is that threshers typically prefer hunting their prey alone, and they spend most of their day locating them. For that reason, your best chance of catching a thresher shark is by finding their prey.

As previously mentioned, thresher sharks use their tails to kill and even maim their prey before eating them. This means that casting the dead fish on a hook isn’t a viable option in the thresher shark’s case.

Since you want to hook the shark by its mouth, you’ll need a slightly different approach to land the shark. 

Trolling The Thresher Sharks

One of the most successful techniques to land a thresher is trolling. However, in that case, you want to use a hookless dead mackerel for the job. 

This technique might require patience and good timing. It might be slightly difficult to implement on the first try but it gets easier with time.

As you approach a thresher, you’ll troll them with a hookless dead mackerel so that the shark moves toward the bait to attack it. Once this happens, you’ll need to pull the bait out and wait as the shark gets closer.

In the meantime, you’ll need to get yourself prepared to cast a hooked dead mackerel in front of the shark so that it has no other means but to try to devour it rather than attacking it with the tail.

Once the shark bites on the bait, you’ll need to use your power to fight the fish. Expect no easy fight, as the fish is known to twist and turn in the water. They can even jump several feet up above water level.

Step 6: Kill or Release the Thresher Shark

Depending on the heaviness of your gear, the fight’s duration with the shark will vary. If you use the right gear, you should expect it to last as little as 15 minutes and as long as 45 minutes, which is pretty average compared to some big game fish fights.

Keep in mind that the heavier the gear that you’ve used, the lower the chances for the fish to survive after releasing them back into the water.

So, if you’re planning to take the fish home, you should use the heaviest gear out there to save yourself both the time and the effort. In that case, make sure that you kill the fish in a humane manner.

The fastest way to kill the fish is by stabbing the fish in the brain using a sharp knife from the back of the head and between the eyes.

Wrap Up

There you have it! A quick yet comprehensive guide that shows you how to land a thresher shark the proper way!

As you can see, the process of catching a thresher shark may not be as difficult as you thought it would be as long as you’re equipped with the right set of tools and careful enough.

Happy Hunting!

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