http://www.whitbyseaanglers.co.uk/forum/index.php?action=tags;tagid=90 Rodney Goodship runs a B&B business / guiding service on the Florida Keys. Like me, he loves his shark fishing and his fishing tales just blow your mind! It certainly sounds like a fantastic venue for Sharks, Tarpon, Rays, Mackerel, Jacks, Redfish, Snook, Bonefish, Permit, Barracuda, Snapper and Grouper, to name just a few. www.fishthedream.co.uk Although we’d spent quite a while nattering over the phone, we hadn’t actually met, so I invited Rodney out for a tope mission from Hornsea. It was arranged at pretty short notice, but with the weather we’ve had this summer, it’s more a question of grabbing whatever opportunities are available. So a real busman's holiday for Rodney, but he seemed keen enough. The date was set for Wednesday 25th July. On route to our venue, Rodney was telling me about his exploits in Florida when Henry Gilby fished with him, Jim Whippy and a host of other fishing celebraties. In other words, no pressure today Rupert…… :whistle: We arrived at Hornsea about 8.30 am. It was my first launch there this year, and I had to run through the safety equipment on the boat, but this didn’t take too long. Before we left my house, the Met Office forecast inshore forecast had said sea state smooth to slight. The weatherman obviously hadn’t checked at Hornsea! The sea looked pretty lumpy, but we were here, so I decided we should give it a go and make the best of it. It was then that found ‘Henry’ the John Deere, didn’t want to start! Henry had to be towed off and replaced with a steed that would perform. Hitched on the back of a Massey Ferguson (I was always told that M.F. stood for mechanical failure!) we were towed down to the beach to launch. I unclipped the winch strap from the boat, and climbed aboard ready to be pushed in to the sea. The next thing, there’s a great clatter and we end up tipped prematurely onto the beach, five yards from the sea! The tractor driver remarked “Bye eck, she rolls off that trailer easily!” :clown: :clown: :clown: Boat winched back on, we try again. This time, the driver reverses seawards more smoothly. All the time I’m thinking, “I’ll bet Rodney’s really impressed with all this……………….So take 2. Boat launched, engine started…….£uck!!!!! I can’t get reverse!!! The North East swell blew the boat sideways back onto the beach and waves crashed against the side of the boat, soaking both of us. I wolf-whistled the tractor driver, who hadn’t seen our predicament. :embarrass: The boat was winched back on the trailer and towed back to the compound. Rodney dismantled the selector/throttle handle and found everything greased and nothing broken, but the lever was stiff for some unknown reason. On reassembly, it was working, so something had temporarily seized. By the time we’d done the third launch it was nearly 11 am. We tried for mackerel around the sewage outfall buoy and caught only two. We then tried the bell buoy beyond and had another 3. So only five mackerel in half an hour! I decided to troll the feathers towards the tope mark, and on route we picked up another dozen or so, so with that, we had enough to make a start toping. It took about half an hour to reach our mark in the lumpy wet sea. With the anchor deployed, the first thing I did was relax for a moment with a welcome Fiery Jamaican ginger beer. It was good to wash away all that salty seawater I’d recently swallowed ! We had four tope rods out, two uptide rods which were cast away from the boat, and two shorter downtide rods, fished closer in. The rods had been in the water only about 30 minutes, when Rodney’s Avet reel screeched and his 12lb Snowbee Deep Blue travel rod took on a nice fighting curve! The fish pulled well, and he had a good bit of weaving to do to keep his line clear of the others! It was over 20 years since Rodney caught a tope. Apparently, he used to fish Luce Bay quite a bit. As you might imagine, he was absolutely delighted with this one. With a combination of a bird feeder I’d brought along, and Rodney ‘chunking’ with thin discs of mackerel, we kept a good scent trail going. The metal bird feeder kept the crabs and lobsters at bay, but they still did their best to chew it to shreds. I had clipped 6lbs of lead to the feeder and this kept it close to the boat, but still in the scent lane. It's no good clipping it close to the anchor in these windy conditions; it actually does more harm than good. Also, with the bird feeder method, deployed over the stern of the boat, you can replace the mackerel when they are washed out. Rodney puts a lot of faith in a creating a good scent trail and remarks “No chum, no fun”! The next rod to go was mine. This was an 8’ Savage gear bait casting rod rated 80 – 100 grams casting weight. The tope set off towards Holland in one long run. My Avet reel had 300 yards of braid, plus some mono beyond, and I was very relieved when that first run stopped. It probably ran 200 yards in that first rush! Quarter of an hour later we had the fish on the deck……….this looked like a new p.b. for me too! We carefully measured the length and girth of the fish, so we could later get a better estimate of its weight. Rodney then got another small one and treated me to a fantastic tope wrestling match. Eventually he got the upper hand! Rodney lost another one with a hook pull, and I bagged a ‘small’ 20lb fish at final knockings, before I raised the anchor for home. It was another wet ride home, as we quartered into the swell. Nevertheless, despite a less than impressive start to the day, we ended up with some nice fish. Rodney had thoroughly enjoyed himself and gave the day a big thumbs up! Rodney subsequently contacted me to say that according to the length/girth tables, my big tope weighed 71 lbs, so I was capped with that! Not bad on a pike lure rod eh!