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The “gummy shark”, also known as the Australian smooth hound, flake, Sweet William or smooth dog-shark is a common and highly regarded catch in the southern Australian waters. New Zealand has a similar shark, most widely known as Rig, which also receives the nickname “gummy shark” due to the similar teeth, or lack of. Over the years gummy sharks have been a commercial fishing target due to their excellent eating. They’re regularly served up in fish n chip shops, battered with a side of hot chips and tomato sauce, so it’s no wonder these sharks have become a target species for recreational fishermen as well. In the southern half of the country where gummy sharks are found, they are a legitimate target and have amassed quite a following. Granted they’re not powerful fighters, but they’re still good scrappers on light to medium gear, and they’re fantastic on the table. The bigger gummies, say above 15 kg, put up a reasonable fight especially in the surf or where there’s a bit of tide or current running.Gummy sharks are accessible to a lot of anglers down south, and given they live in both offshore and inshore waters, shore and boat sessions are possible.
Catching these sharks boat-based is a whole lot of fun, and many gummy encounters aren't when you're deliberately targeting them, but rather they're common bycatch when after snapper, whiting and other reef and sand loving species. Many reefs that have sand nearby seem ideal for gummies, however any lively reef system can be a potential haven for them.
When bottom bashing the gummy bite is hard to miss. It'll usually be felt as a few heavy thumps up the line followed by a lot of weight, while conversely the strike can be a 'hit and run' affair and you'll be getting instantly smoked. So many gummy shark encounters offshore end with the shark being lost as ill-equipped anglers struggle to hold what can be a powerful animal. Gummies will at times roll up in your line, go on blistering runs and generally test out both your terminal gear and the rod and reel in use.
Catching gummy sharks from the beach is a popular pastime and while many of these sharks are taken by anglers after jewies, no one seems to complain too much when a glowing set of eyes is spotted under torch light and the long, pale grey form of a gummy hits the sand. Thankfully when fishing with mono leaders they are one of the few sharks you can consistently land on the beach without getting bitten off. A majority of gummy encounters in the surf occur at night, unless you're fishing more remote beaches or those with particularly deep gutters. Choosing your location should be based on having clean looking water in front of you, with your gutter having a branch that extends to deeper water. Any reefy structures nearby will only further encourage a gummy to come in for a look.