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North Sea sharking - the pleasure and the pain!

Discussion in 'All Time Best Topics' started by rupert, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. rupert

    rupert Blenny

    Over the last two or three years, Ive trialled a few areas with Dave Brown on his Bridlington based boat Lizzard with the intention of targeting porbeagles. Whilst having good weather and tide conditions, on more than one of those experimental trips, weve struggled to get enough bait for the day, and in truth, didnt really do proper justice to the marks Dave had carefully selected. Im still convinced that there are shark to be had off Bridlington, but after four blank sessions, I thought Id invite Dave to join me on my first Whitby sharking trip of the year, where with luck; he might experience his first porbeagle hook up?

    I was all too aware that it was a bit of a busmans holiday for Dave, but I was also keen to show him that the same tackle and tactics Id used with him off Bridlington can produce the goods. I really was hoping that at some stage during the day, hed see some action and encourage him to continue our quest at Bridlington.

    In preparation for the trip, I had two chest freezers full of mackerel caught last year, so with this and some other frozen mackerel that had been given to Rich Ward, we had all the rubby dubby ingredients we needed for the day. A few fresh baits for the hooks were all that was required, which gave us more time to target the shark. We picked up four fresh mackerel and twenty bait sized billet on the way out, so this would give us some hook baits, which hopefully could be bolstered during the day.

    We arrived at our mark by 8.00 am, with slack water being around 9.30am. Slack water can be a good time, and for some reason North Sea porbeagles often come on the feed around this state of tide. Having said this, without the rubby dubby being able to work its magic for any period of time, I thought action, if we were to see any during the day, was most likely to happen at the afternoon turn of tide, when the scent trail had been working for a good few hours. Little did I know what the day had in store for us!

    The journey out to sea had been a bit too choppy to allow me to get the rubby dubby prepared, so once we had reached our mark and got the anchor down and secured, Rich started the chore of preparing the scent trail. Meanwhile I rigged the four shark rods up and opted to fish all four below the boat at varying depths, without floats. (You really need a good run of tide to keep float fished baits in place; otherwise the tangles become a pain). Dave and crewman John Wilcox busied themselves bait catching and they were soon into some fantastic sized mackerel, which meant that those caught earlier in the morning became superfluous and were relegated to the rubby dubby box.

    By 8.15am Rich had the rubby dubby trail working nicely and shortly afterwards I had the final shark rod in place, with all four sharking outfits clipped to the boat securely with safety ropes. The 50lb class outfits were set to cover depths of between 10 to 40 metres, roughly mid-water. Standing on the stern of Shy Torque you could observe the oily trail at work. The tide was quite now quite slack and the majority of the chum was falling deep in water column, hopefully calling those big black backed beauties up to us from the depths.

    I was really keen for Dave to experience a porbeagle first hand, so I made it clear the first fish, if we were to connect, the first shark was going to be his. Incredibly, we only had minutes to wait before we heard that rasp of the ratchet on one of the lever drag reels come to life. When you have a bait of this size set at mid-water or above, and the reel ‘speaks it can only mean one thing only - porgy!. Though Ive now experienced it a number of times over the past five years, the adrenalin rush that this gives you, knowing that you have a porbeagle mouthing the bait really is second to none. In my opinion, its one of the most exciting and apprehensive moments it is possible to have in UK Sea fishing.

    By the time Dave had got to the rod, it became clear we had problems. Another rod was away and my first thought was the shark had taken one bait after another it soon became apparent however that two of the other lines had tangled around the rod Dave was holding. He couldnt tighten down and set the hook until wed unravelled the offending lines. As soon as we were clear, Dave wound down, but it was too late. The bait had been rejected and the chance missed.

    As soon as we get a proper ‘enquiry or hookup, we always clear the area of other shark rods, so having missed this opportunity, it always takes a while to re-set the other rods. This time, I took a couple further up towards the bow of Richs boat with a view to preventing another tangle on the take. Unbelievably, it was only minutes later when another rod went off! “Dave, Dave, get your arse here”! Instead of the shark steadily peeling line from the reel, it was a stop-start type of take, which Dave wound down to and resulted in fish on! Whoa hey!! A butt pad was being fitted when the line dropped slack the hook had pulled out.


    Although it is hard to believe, this same thing happened two more times with hooks pulling out after a minute or so contact with the shark. This photo shows the remains of a bait after shark number three had beaten us!


    If we were to get another run, as the bites were unusually finicky, we decided to give the fish a little more time before striking. Dave had only minutes to wait before chance number 4. One of the rods positioned off the stern was next to sound and Dave gave the fish a good twenty seconds longer to make sure the shark had got the bait. The wind down hooked the fish, which at this stage was only a short distance off the stern of the boat. On the tight line the shark erupted on the surface, threshing the sea around it to foam. The shark, a good 200lb fish, had its head above the surface and gnashed its teeth. It was so close; you could even see that we had a good clean hook up in its toothy jaw. It continued to go ballistic on the top and in doing so, it span uncontrollably like an upwards spinning yoyo and the trace and 6 metre rubbing leader wrapped round it in seconds, followed by the 100lb braid contacting with either the skin or teeth. Inevitably, the mainline parted, leaving all of us gutted. We concluded that we couldnt have stopped it spinning, even by slackening off completely, but how many chances were we to need?

    Opportunity 5 was another hesitant take on the port side of the boat. The run started well, but the fish dropped the bait, came back for it, and then dropped it again! Another bump indicated the bait had been picked up for a third time, and the reel came back to life Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.lever drag forward, wind down, YES! A successful hook up. Please, please let this one stop on!


    Up to press, I know that Dave has looked at my shark gear and thought it was overly heavy. Now, with a big game butt pad over his crown jewels and thighs, he could start to apply some pressure. For those that have seen Dave recently, hes got himself in pretty good shape 12 months diet and free weight in the gym. Pulling a fish out of the sea should be a piece of cake!


    Once you know youve got a good hook up on a porbeagle you can start to enjoy the fight. This one was very much an up and down vertical struggle with long steady unstoppable runs. Meanwhile, there was a good deal of banter onboard watching Dave in action. My lever drags are set to give line at around 15lbs drag, which might not sound much, but on the end of a bent rod it feels like a substantial pull. By this time twenty minutes had elapsed and despite giving it some proper stick, Dave had made no headway on the shark whatsoever.


    The tug of war ensued and we knew after 40 minutes that this could be something special. Dave admitted he couldnt physically give the fish any more pressure and started to complain of an aching back. He acknowledged that he could see why I used the strength of gear I did not that he appeared to be winning.


    After an hour, Dave was really whinging. As well as complaining that his back was hurting, his said his arms were now on fire, and still we hadnt even seen our adversary. We held a cup of coolish coffee up to his mouth so he could have a bit of a drink during his ordeal. As the fatigue hit him, so we noticed he was rested the fore grip of the rod handle on the boats guard rail! “Come on Dave thats not how to play a fish!”



    Bit by bit, minute by minute, more line was won, only for it to lost as the shark dived yet again. Eventually, things stated to turn more in Daves favour and more line was being won than lost. The wind on leader was spotted indicating the rubbing leader would follow and so the shark must be close. It then we saw this dark shape coming up, but BACKWARDS!


    During the fight, the shark must have spun and Dave had played it by the tail for 1 hour 10 minutes! It was still a damn fine fish and we boarded it for measurements through Richs specially installed stern door.

    As you can see, this a fantastic porbeagle and a fine first for Mr Brown who was absolutely capped with the whole experience. I estimate that this fish weighed something in the region of 275lb 300lb.





    Just to demonstrate the power of these sharks, the hook dropped out when the shark was on deck. Just look at the shape of it! This is a Mustad 11/0 Sea Demon!


    After all this action and excitement, the morning had flown by. In between all this action, wed kept the rubby dubby going to maintain the trail. It was then that Rich noticed something wasnt right and quickly realised that the boat had broken from anchor and was adrift. We had no option but to bring in the rods and rubby dubby and re-anchor. We had in fact drifted ¾ mile from our original mark.

    It was into the afternoon before wed resumed our original mark, but with a bit of luck wed have a chance for another. This time, it was my turn on the rods! My chance came and like Daves, this was no small shark. It played very similarly, with a lot of time spent deep under the boat. After 20 minutes we got the first glimpse of it and it looked a very handy shark, though probably not quite as big as Daves. We noticed the shark had spun and the 400lb rubbing leader was near its teeth. I could see this ending in tears, so I slackened off, hoping this might clear the problem, but for the next 5 minutes played the shark with kid gloves.


    Another 10 minutes and the shark was still on, so Id figured everything had unravelled. Well have it to the boat I thought to myself. The shark had different ideas and we tod and frod from port to starboard and back again. Each time the rod had to be held away from the boat to keep the line clear of the boats stern gear etc. A couple of times the lines grated on something, but each time contact was resumed.

    For someone who hasnt hooked a fish of this size and power, its difficult to put into words the strength these sharks have. Youve really got to see it, or better still experience it to believe it. Ive read other people advocating the use of 30lb class gear, but for the stamp of fish we were encountering today, I honestly think youd just stand there and make no impression on them. Even Browny admitted that until today, hed never believe there was anything in the North Sea that couldnt be bossed on 50lb class gear. Anyway I digress

    Over half an hour into the fight the shark tried a new tack and swam uptide and alongside the anchor rope. When these fish head off, you just physically cant stop them. I slackened the drag and the line grated over the anchor rope and I looped rod and reel around to free everything off. Contact resumed, the fish turned and headed downtide and I kept contact along the starboard side of the boat. The fish then ran further downtide against a steady drag, when the mainline suddenly parted. I can tell you its a real sickener after a 40 minute battle too. Either chaffing on the anchor rope or the stern gear had fatally damaged it.

    Wed agreed a time to call it a day and this left around an hour of the day before wed have to start coming in. Three quarters of an hour to go and the furthest float fished bait at 80 metres suddenly vanished. My Shimano Tiagra 50 reel shrieked like never before and all of us stood open mouthed as a massive porgy breached out at sea. Most sharks stay deep, but this fish shot along the surface, before repeatedly doubling back. Even with the two speed reel in ‘high box I had all on keeping up with the shark when it swam towards me. In the meantime, out of the corner of my eye I saw John Wilcox in action. Wed got a double hook up on our hands!!


    Luckily John's shark had taken a bait close to the boat and my shark was hooked at distance so we had a good degree of separation, at least for the time being. Whilst John's fish stayed deep, mine bow-waved across the surface creating a massive commotion. This was clearly the biggest shark Id hooked in my lifetime. It was spectacular stuff to put it mildly. My fish took another run towards me, and then turned out at an angle causing the reel to scream for a good 20 seconds before falling deathly quiet. I reeled in a limp line and found the shark had bitten straight through the 250lb wire biting leader. This was a first and a very sobering lesson as to what these fish can do to your end tackle.

    Meanwhile John Wilcox stuck to the task of playing the shark. At a little over 10 stone wet through, John found this increasingly hard work, and at one point nearly had the rod pulled clean out of his hands. We clipped a safety line onto the reel just in case, but once the fish started going backwards and forwards under the boat, we had to unclip him.




    John stuck manfully to the task in hand and eventually after an hour of hard graft had his fish ready to boat. As it came to the boat we realised how lucky John had been. The hook had actually pulled out, but tangled around the wire trace. Lucky indeed that it all held!




    Interestingly, whilst John was playing his shark we saw another big porbeagle nosing its way up the scent trail, with its dorsal and tail clean out of the water. This was the first time Id ever seen this normally the first indication of a shark is when the seagulls lift, or a reel screams.

    So there finished a cracking day probably the day of a lifetime. Two fish boated, a third nearly boated and various other instances of bad luck. The day had seen some big, big fish and these had tested what I thought was bomb proof tackle beyond breaking point. Certainly trace wire, rubbing leader length, mainline abrasion and hook patterns all need to be re-considered before my next mission!

    I cant do more than copy and paste the e-mails Ive since received from the guys with me on board that day.

    Thanks for today lads. You have made this skipper one very happy chap indeed! A most memorable day, one that will never be forgotten.

    Cheers and best regards


    Awesome day guys

    Its not often I get excited about another day at the office as it were but that was something else, something that will live with me for the rest of my days.

    I was trying to recall a better days fishing of which there have been many thousands of hours spent out there pursuing our favourite sport, some exceptional memories but I am pretty certain I cant better that....yet!!

    Thanks to you all for a brilliant day and I hope we can get together and try again soon.

    Regards Dave.

    Hi Guys. What a fantastic day, one I will never forget, I am just returning to reality just hope the old arms and back will follow shortly.
    Special thanks to Rupert for giving me the chance to boat a big shark I never thought it would happen. Thanks for all the encouragement Dave I know now know what KNACKERED means, thumb doing fine thanks again.

    And Richard what can I say? Really am made up.
    As ever John.
  2. macky

    macky New Member

    Well done dave, u always said to me u would get 1 lol
  3. smokey

    smokey Rockling

    That is one of the finest fishing reports i have ever read Rupert :happy:
    What an amazing day to be on the boat,the stamp of shark you encountered is phenomenol :surprise:
    I have a sneaky feeling this is going to be repeated by you guys sometime this year,with even better results :wink: :happy:

    tight lines :happy:
  4. mattylamb

    mattylamb Rockling

    absolutely brillian report Rupert, probably one of the best reads ever on this site. Well done to all involved :yes:
  5. newdave

    newdave Guest

    Great read Rupert, & amazing fishing :yes:.
    I spoke to the Doc today who tipped me off so I was really looking forward to the report.
  6. dan the pollock

    dan the pollock Rockling

    BLOODY HELL rupert. you always come up trumps. thats one of the best things ive ever read.

    you might find a stowaway on your next adventure
  7. bigbob1

    bigbob1 Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    nice one lads willy.s ringing tonite to book me and him on a trip to have a go at them ,we probabley wont go to namibia ever again , i dont fancy one on my warrior 165 it will probabley smash it up ,tight lines every one :happy:
  8. Sambo

    Sambo To the MAX!

    What can I say, awesome report Rupert. You really do tell a good story and as always a pleasure to read. I never get bored of your shark fishing reports and this one didn't disappoint.

    A big well done to you all, those sharks are something else with a serious set of teeth! :scare:

    Looks like you'll be shopping for some proper end tackle now :cheesy:
  9. Baramundi Bob

    Baramundi Bob Super Leeds United !!!

    Im full of admiration for you guys. I was just speaking about Rupert to someone the other day, saying how much dedication the lad has to research his target species then to attack it 150%. Catching fish like this is by no means easy and this is another great achievment for all involved. Top fising guys/
  10. macky

    macky New Member

    How long befor u nutters go out in kayaks after them lol :laugh:
  11. kirkby lad

    kirkby lad New Member

    1st class fishing 1st class report thanks rupert
  12. michael76

    michael76 Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The BestEST

    what a read,i was actually there on that boat,totally engrosed in the story a bit like a book you can't put down..does it get better than that? I think not.well done to all 3 of yous onboard. :yes: :yes: :yes:
  13. ndskinner

    ndskinner Blenny

    Excellent story and pictures Rupert. Thnks for that.

    I know this can be outdone. Which member is bonkers enough on here to try with on his kayak. c'mon, lets see a show of paddles. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
  14. Baramundi Bob

    Baramundi Bob Super Leeds United !!!

  15. willybendit

    willybendit Rockling

    Hi Rupert Fantastic report & Pictures im gob smacked awesome fishing regards Alain
  16. harrythecod

    harrythecod Rockling

    What a superb report ,all the detail from start to finish,
    i was getting tired reading it , helping wind the beast in ,
    in my head :laugh:
    some great photo,s as well, keep up the good work Rupert absolutley ace :cool:
  17. goaty

    goaty Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    Thats mental! Simply an amazing report!
  18. langy

    langy Rockling

    Nice one Rupert, great read as usual, nice sharks too

    Tight lines..Langy
  19. go go gadget

    go go gadget New Member

    Brilliant stuff lads :happy:
  20. Ramsrod

    Ramsrod Rockling

    Well done Rupert and to all the other lads too. I was reading that report like it was the ending of a good book. Probably the best post I,ve read with picture's that almost tell the story for themselves. Absolutely brilliant!

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