Gummy Shark

We fish we care

Genus Mustelus antarcticus


As the name suggests, gummy sharks do not have a set of sharp teeth and this makes them quite safe to handle. The back and upper part of the fish is grey in colour with numerous small white  spots. Sometimes gummy sharks can be almost black in colour when taken from certain waters. The underside is always white. The sex of a gummy shark can be determined by its external  appearance. Male fish have a pair of appendages called claspers, one at the base of each ventral fin.



Gummy sharks are an oceanic species which is known to travel long distances. They can be located in a wide range of water depths and can quite comfortably enter water less than a metre deep in  shallow bays and coastal beaches, especially under the cover of darkness. They are commonly found in deep water channels.



A gummy shark of just over the legal minimum length may weigh around two kilograms or so. The bulk of gummy shark caught by anglers would range between 3 and 10 kilograms, however much  larger specimens of between 15 and 20 kilograms and more have been captured with increasing regularity in recent years. Many anglers are choosing to release these large fish unharmed as they are generally breeding females.


Fishing techniques and tackle

Large Gummy sharks are very powerful. When fishing from a boat, a medium-to-heavy rod should be fitted with a reel spooled with line of 8 – 15 kg breaking strain. A heavier leader of up to 1.5  metres in length is completed with either one or two 6/0 suicide-pattern hooks. Sinker weight should be sufficient to hold the bait to the bottom in whatever current is encountered. The best time to catch gummy sharks is during the night, especially on a rising tide, however they can also be caught during the day.



Gummy sharks can be caught on a range of baits including pilchards, strips of squid and fillets of legal-size trevally, salmon, and mullet. Another bait that is very popular is portions or fillets of eel.  Some anglers ‘cure’ the eel by soaking it in brine beforehand.



Most of the larger gummy sharks are caught in the southern end of Port Phillip Bay around areas such as the Coles Channel near St Leonards, Mud Island, the Simmons Channels out from  Queenscliff, and the Sorrento Channel. In the middle and northern end of Port Philip Bay gummy sharks are often caught in most of the areas where snapper can be expected. In Western Port they  can be caught in a wide variety of shallow and deep water locations.


Sustainable fishing techniques

  • Hook damage is the most significant cause of fish dying after being released. Deep-hooked (gills, gut) fish are far less likely to survive.
  • Fish with a tight line so that fish are less likely to swallow the hook.
  • Increase the size of your hooks to prevent small fish swallowing them.
  • Avoid suspending fish on the hook.
  • Fish hooked in the mouth or lip have the best chance of survival.
  • Remove the hook with long nosed pliers.
  • If you can’t see the whole hook protruding from the mouth of the fish don’t try and remove it.
  • Cut the line and release the fish.
  • Wet your hands before handling the fish.
  • Avoid touching the gills and eyes.
  • Return the fish as quickly as possible.