Fishing For Sharks In San Diego
San Diego California Shark Fishing
The kelp and deep water trenches immediately off the San Diego coast line offer ideal habit for
various sharks with Mako, Blue, and Thresher sharks being the most sought after species. Even
Hammerheads can become part of the mix. Sharks are accessible and available year round, with
Thresher fishing best in the Spring, Mako fishing best in late Spring through the early Fall, and Blues are
the most predominant shark in the Winter months. None of which is an exact science, and many of the
species overlap, and you can always still have an off chance of a Mako in the winter for example.
At The Fly Stop, we specialize in targeting sharks, in particular Makos followed by Blues, on fly
fishing gear. We are extremely fortunate in that we are in 1 of 3 known Mako shark rookeries in the
world. A rookery is essentially fancy terminology for breeding grounds. For this reason our waters are
full of Makos in the 40lb to 200 lb range. We also have a lot of fish bigger than that, and every year
Makos up to 1000lb are hooked on the fly fishing gear as well! What does this mean to the fly
fisherman? It means we have ready access, for the majority of the year, to one of the hardest fighting,
fastest running, highest jumping fish species known to man. If that is not enough, fly fishing for Mako
sharks is 100% a visual experience. These fish are attracted to and caught within feet of the boat.
Imagine watching a 300lb shark grab your fly 30 feet off your boat, and within a few feet of or even
directly on the surface. This is quite common, and in fact the typical scenario. Fly fishing for apex
predators and deep offshore waters is some of the most exhilarating fly fishing our customers have ever
The typical set up for Mako fishing are multiple rods in the 12-14 weight range. Huge beefy
(barbless) hooks in sizes up to 8/0 are typical. Several factor and variances go into selecting the proper
place to start, but typical shark fishing starts with checking visibility, water color, tides, and temperature
variance to hone in on the exact location to get started. Sharks love to follow structure, with our vast
knowledge of the area, we will gather all the subtleties together and have your game plan drawn up
upon your arrival.
One thing to keep in mind is that fly fishing for Makos is not your typical fishing adventure.
Once set up at the location for the day, what proceeds can be maddening slow lulls followed by total
frenzy and chaos. Typically once in the area a chum bucket is prepared with various fish parts, and we
start a slick typical to shark fishing. This, much as hunting, is a waiting game. We are targeting known
structure and travel corridors that Makos travel and hunt through, something Conway Bowman has perfected as an art form.
With uncanny sensory organs, ideally sharks in the area pick up on that chum sent and work their way to its source, the boat. When targeting
Makos or any sharks for that matter, it is a waiting game. This is not nonstop casting and action. This is
more of implementing a strategy, staying patient and letting things pan out. A typical drift or slick can
be set up and fished over for anywhere from 1 hour to the whole day. The longer a slick is worked the
more the surrounding area is saturated. A common theme in shark fishing is “stick and stay, to make it
pay,” meaning set up your slick, be patient, and see it to fruition. I have seen sharks at a boat in 20
minutes, and I have seen sharks at the boat in 7 hours, patience is a must.
Once sited the Mako or other species of shark often form a pattern of movement around the
boat. As an apex predator and enjoying their position at the top of the food chain, a Mako has no real
fear of you or the boat. With their ominous black beady eye often staring directly at you, they will
repeatedly circle the boat staring back and investigating the source of the smell. Every shark is different
some will eat almost immediately upon arrival. Others need a little coercion. If things are not panning
out on their own, often we will have a teaser on a conventional spinning rod set up, to tease and excite
the shark into biting. In this case, we get them amped on the spinning gear and pull the old “bait and
switch” to hook them up on the fly.
After eating it takes a little patience for the shark to turn into a good position for a hook set.
Easier said than done, try watching a 250lb shark with 30 feet of you eat a 12 inch long fly and not pull
immediately! Once you have your angle, hit the fish like you would a tarpon, by using the line and the
butt end of the rod to set the hook. Hit them multiple times as well. Makos have very bone filled jaws,
you have to drive that hook home. When it doubt, hit them again!
If all goes well, and you get a solid hook up, hold on! No joke, without exaggerations these
shark are one of the top 2 fastest fish swimming with speeds up to 45 miles per hour. Watch your
knuckles. Further, these fish can jump up to 20 feet out of the air, and often try to! Many times once
they get cartwheeling a Mako will repeatedly jump 3, 4, 5 times in a row! These fish are built for speed
and are a bullet.
We have specialized tools for landing these fish. Nothing is kept, and no sharks are
killed or will ever be killed on our charters, period. We are interested in the sport of things, not blood
and guts, and these sharks are way too valuable alive to ever consider killing. We will get the sharks
close to the boat, and release them without every removing them from the water. This is done for both
the sharks safety as well as yours. Mako’s have some of the gnarliest teeth in the shark world, you do
not want to see them next to you. With the barbless hooks and flies we use on all trips, the shark is easily
removed and off to be caught another day.
If you are ever in the San Diego, and wish to try fishing for something new and for something
that hunts you back, give us a ring a The Fly Stop Bowman Bluewater Guide Service. We work directly
with the best names in the game, and Conway Bowman, the man who created the entire game of Mako
sharks on the fly! We would love to get you out, and tie you to your first or next shark on the fly!