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Putting Heads Together leads to Sharking fireworks

Discussion in 'All Time Best Topics' started by rupert, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. rupert

    rupert Blenny

    Putting our heads together in the North Sea

    Around two years ago, I arrived home to find a message on my answer phone from someone called Rodney Goodship. It wasn’t a name I knew, but the voice on my machine said something about a Florida fishing business, sharks and could he talk to me? I got the feeling I was going to be in for a good long conversation about fishing that evening!

    Rodney had come across my name through my sharking posts on the Whitby Sea Anglers website. With some further internet searching, he’d found my business details and tracked me and my phone number down. That evening, I recounted how my North Sea porbeagle quest had started and developed. As we spoke, it quickly became apparent that like me, Rodney has a special interest in targeting big fish species; especially shark.

    Out in Florida, where he runs his fishing business, I heard how the sharks are so prolific, they are almost a nuisance! As well as being plentiful, some species attain weights twice that of UK porbeagle shark too. They are generally caught in warm and incredibly shallow water, so the whole experience is very visual.

    What a complete contrast to what faced me in the deep cold North Sea, where at times I don’t get the slightest whiff of a shark for days!

    Clearly, our two sharking worlds are like chalk and cheese. Nevertheless, Rodney was as keen as mustard to join me on some tope and porbeagle trips, when he moves back in the UK to avoid the Florida hurricane season. He explained that some years ago, he had caught plenty of tope in Luce Bay, but had never caught a North Sea tope. As for porbeagle, this would be a new species for him altogether and one he was particularly keen to crack.

    Last year, we enjoyed two fabulous tope trips at Hornsea, the first of which I wrote about under the post Busman’s Holiday to Hornsea and which saw us catch tope to 71lbs. http://www.whitbyseaanglers.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=27436.0 The second trip was even more hectic, when we had 23 tope to the boat, with fish to 57lb. (Although my busiest day ever on the tope, it was trumped completely by our resident tope expert CPS, who had double that number the previous day!!).

    Rodney managed one inshore porbeagle trip on my boat in September last year, when I tried a days experimental drifting, on the ground between Robin Hoods Bay and Whitby. Anyway, whilst we tried our best and put out a really good strong chum trail; sadly no porbeagle came sniffing that day!

    Although a blank, there is always something to be learnt. I had previously discussed my concerns about the dropped runs I’d experienced on porbeagle. I’d also been pretty disappointed in the way the big Mustad hooks I’d been using were bending. You get very few chances to hook up with North Sea porbeagle anyway and dropped runs and bent hooks do not help!

    That day, Rodney showed me his solid wire traces and Gamakatsu hooks and how to form the haywire twist. Using exactly these same traces, he’d had shark to over 1,000lb in Florida, so that would be more than ample for my North Sea shark! I was really impressed with their simplicity and subtlety. They were far superior to the thick cable and oversize hooks I had been using up to press.

    This same wire trace setup was put to good use with Spawney Dave last month, when we had the first porbeagle to the gunnels of Dave’s Warrior 175 “Lucky Marion”.


    Solid Wire leader – 180lb B.S.


    The 10/0 Gamakatsu hooks. Check out the 12/0 Mustad’s bent with porbeagle encounters! Miraculously, two of these hooks landed sharks, but the third pulled out.


    A “Haywire Twist” makes a pretty neat way of joining wire to hook or swivel.

    Roll on to 2013 and a call from Rodney to say he was back in the UK. I had previously booked Rich Ward’s boat for the day on Friday 14th June, with the hope of the two of us heading out to ‘The Wall’ and breaking Rodney’s porbeagle virginity. Rodney drove down from Northumberland the previous evening, but sadly the trip was called off due to an iffy forecast.

    I had been watching the forecast over the past few days and saw a window on Thursday 8th August. Rodney was available, I had the frozen chum ready, and so a trip out to The Wall on my boat was arranged, with a launch from Whitby. The forecast gave slight seas and light winds. Perfect.

    The sea state was pretty much as forecast and allowed a comfortable cruise speed of 24 knots. We had a couple of stops for mackerel on the way out (without success which was worrying!)

    By the time we reached our mark at the Wall, it was around 10.15 am. I was quietly hoping for action at around 2.30pm, when the tide would slacken off. This would give a good few hours for the frozen chum to work its magic.

    I’d arranged to meet Rich Ward out there and he had a father and son team on board, also targeting porbeagle. We had a quick word with Rich and the lads and they kindly gave me some fresh mackerel for hook baits and I gave them a block of my frozen chum in exchange! We anchored a good ¼ mile south east of Rich’s boat, which would give sufficient space to safely play a shark, should either boat be lucky enough to get a hook up.


    You can just make out “Shy Torque” anchored up on the horizon, between the two rods.

    Around 11.30am we saw Rich Ward’s boat was on the move, a few moments later an excited skipper’s voice came over my VHF radio.

    “We’ve seen one earlier, but now we’ve got a hook up Rupe!”

    This was the lad’s first ever shark and even though we could only hear the VHF commentary, the excitement levels were palpable. Rich had buoyed off the anchor and as the minutes went by, Shy Torque drifted away on the tide. After an hour and a half, she was all but out of sight on the horizon. Meanwhile, Rich kept us amused with a VHF commentary on how the battle was playing out. From what I could glean, it wasn’t clear who was gaining the upper hand; the shark or the angler!

    The tide was pushing through at a fair rate and whilst I as still very hopeful that we might get a run nearing slack water, you always have the nagging doubt that you could have done something different, particularly when another boat has a hook up and you haven’t! Nagging doubts aside, there is rarely anything to be gained from breaking the chum trail, so I sat tight and kept freshening the baits.

    Rodney was quite surprised that cut baits weren’t my favourite porbeagle bait. A cut bait is just an American term for what we would call a flapper. In order to appease my crew, I wound in the middle float fished bait and Rodney baited it up in the American way! The nearest and furthest baits were my favourites, a bridle rigged live mackerel. The nearest bait being fished 15 metres at the stern of the boat. The furthest bait was under a float and set at 25 metres deep and positioned 80 metres down tide off the stern.

    One recent development I’ve made is the way I dispense my chum. In the past I used onion sacks, but they don’t let out all the contents and can be shredded by the fulmars that constantly peck at them. Perforated sealed buckets were my Mark 11 chum dispensers, but the hole size is critical. Too big and everything washes out too quickly, too small and it blocks with mashed mackerel.

    My current dispenser for frozen chum is a net bag. The purpose made chum bags I found on the internet via the USA have proved too small for my purposes and the mesh is too tight. What I use now is a bigger horse hay net and that’s just perfect. The only downside I’ve had is that the fulmars devour the biggest morsels of mackerel before they get a chance to sink deep. This time though, I thought I’d cap them! My solution was to sink the chum bag. A big lead weight out of one of my old wooden sash windows and an extra length of rope on the hay net did a splendid job!


    While we were waiting for the big reels to shriek, Rodney busied himself trying to catch a haddock for Mrs Goodship. I used the opportunity to grab a few minutes shut eye. This was occasionally interrupted by fulmars crashing into the shark rod lines, causing the Tiagra reel ratchets to sound and falsely raise our hopes.


    My head was fuzzy and I had nodded off once again, when suddenly the Tiagra 30 reel shrieked properly, as the shark accelerated away with a live bait. What better sounding alarm clock is there at sea? I was instantly on my feet!

    The first run had been promised to Rodney, who pulled the rod out of the holder awaiting my guidance for when to set the hook. The shark ran at a good pace and after seven or eight seconds I advised

    “Strike now!”

    Rodney pushed the lever drag to the strike position and wound down fast. The next split seconds felt like hours and I cannot tell you the relief to see the Penn 24kg rod take on its fighting curve. Meanwhile, I frantically wound the in the middle and distance shark rods.

    As soon as the hook bit home, the porbeagle breached and a veritable volcano of water erupted at the stern of the boat. Rodney fell quiet for a brief second (not often he does that) and then quietly muttered

    “I’ll tell you what, that’s not a small shark!”

    The shark was thrashing the water to foam with its massive tail and whilst spectacular to see, it’s at moments like this when sharks can be lost, particularly at close quarters.

    I’d seen a porbeagle thrash on the day I took the late Dave Brown sharking in May 2010 and he hooked a big shark that span the entire rubbing leader round itself, until the braid parted on its abrasive skin. This reel was also spooled with 80lb braid. I didn’t want Rodney’s first ever porbeagle encounter to end before it had hardly started.


    The surface commotion didn’t last long and the shark set off on a long steady run towards the west. The drags on my Tiagra reels are deliberately set on the light side, which allowed the shark to have its head. The reel holds ample line and providing it is kept clear of the anchor line, there is no reason why they can’t be allowed to run.

    Rodney's ‘GoPro’ was placed on his head to film the event for posterity! I then cleared the remainder of the deck placing the rods in the rod holders on the radar arch; Rodney was free to enjoy the fight from the cleared deck.


    So far so good! The shark was staying in the surface layers and at a sensible distance away from the boat and anchor rope. It was a pleasure watching Rodney playing the shark and I had absolute confidence in his ability to use my shark outfit to best effect. He’d had more than enough practice in Florida after all!!

    Every now and again my heart went into my mouth as the line fell slack. Thankfully, it was just a change of direction as the shark turned and swam straight towards us. Seeing the rod tip suddenly straighten and the line slacken does nothing for your nerves though! This happened two or three times.


    The shark made some good runs and whilst I know Rodney has played more vigorous tropical species, I think he had a quiet respect for the dogged way North Sea porbeagle scrap. After 25 minutes he had it rolling close to the boat, but in true porbeagle fashion it was teasing him. It wasn’t beaten at all. It just wanted to take at look at close quarters who was irritating him. Having done this, it set off out to sea again to fight out round two!



    Another ten minutes of too and fro ensued. During this time Rodney agreed with me that this really is some very special fishing, especially for the UK and more especially for the North Sea!

    As this was a first for Rodney and Bimini Twist (my boat) this was not a time to take any risks. I cut the anchor rope and tied a buoy on, so we could free drift away from the risk of the anchor rope. As it was, towards the end of the fight, there still needed to be a bit of boat manoeuvring to keep the shark from swimming under the boat.

    After 40 minutes the shark was tiring (and I suspect at this point, Rodney was aching more than a little too).



    The shark was now at the side of the boat and we could see the bronze gamakatsu hook had a decent hold in the scissors. What a sight to behold! I briefly took a few snaps (which are difficult to scale on a small boat) before releasing the shark.



    Stale mate. The captor looks at the captive and the captive looks at the captor!

    The wind on leader, which I make myself (I’m not paying £20+ for a bought one!) certainly made the closing moments easier as you can wind the 400lb BS rubbing leader straight onto the reel. Interestingly, Rodney doesn’t use these in Florida, but he fishes from a bigger boat, where it is easier to man handle the rubbing leader.


    The nature of this fishing does involve quite a lot of cost, considerable commitment, effort and patience, but the pleasure I got watching a good friend play a fish of this calibre made everything completely worthwhile. Rodney and I have only fished together a handful of times over the past 2 years, but I was absolutely capped that I had now met both his toothy North Sea challenges!

    Putting our heads together and comparing notes had certainly helped my sharking tactics, which are progressively being fine tuned! The fact that I wasn’t the man on the rod didn’t bother me at all. In fact I got every bit as much pleasure out of the capture as Rodney. It’s quite a surreal experience being hooked up to such a large fish, especially in a small boat so far out to sea.

    Weight wise Rodney estimated the shark to be circa 220lbs, which I thought was slightly understated, as it was a really broad shouldered shark, but to be honest, its precise weight really didn’t matter one jot. What mattered was that it had been a fantastic day that gave a first for Rodney and my boat.

    Hopefully, there will be more fishy adventures to follow!

    Here are two brief videos, filmed in the closing moments of the battle!


  2. MandolinBanjo

    MandolinBanjo Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    Brilliant read and photos :)
  3. dan the pollock

    dan the pollock Rockling

    Nice one as usual Rupert
  4. Spawney-Dave

    Spawney-Dave Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    Fantastic post as ever Rupert, after our recent trip i felt like i was there reading yours, I take it you went to the correct wall this time :yes:
  5. peter catchpole

    peter catchpole Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    ah superb ,brings back a lot of memories to me ,,great report
  6. j99oel

    j99oel Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best


    E.F.C. FOREVER Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best


    Sent from my GT-I9505 using Tapatalk 2
  8. shammy67

    shammy67 only dead fish go with the flow

    A throughly detailed, informative and enjoyable read rupert.hats off to you for your commitment and perseverance in search of such an amazing quarry

    Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 4
  9. mww

    mww Rockling

    Great stuff Rupert & Rodney!!

    Please pass on my best regards to Rodney when you see him again!!

  10. stickman

    stickman There's a difference between fishing and catching!

    Well done guys - enjoyed reading that! Thanks for taking the time to put the report and the pictures up!
  11. An Excellent Read



    :yes: :yes:
  12. frank avey

    frank avey Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    same as everyone else ,
    a big thankyou for putting it on the forum and sharing your experiences,
    great to watch and read about,makes you think twice about swimming in the sea though,
    are they related to great whites as they seem to have the same body lines as whites as do makos.
    thanks again and look forward to your next post.

  13. Woodsmanuk

    Woodsmanuk @woodsmanuk

    Marvellous repot & quarry.

  14. mystic girl

    mystic girl Blenny

    Well done m8 not only on catching, but also taking the time to write a comprehensive report.
    John F
  15. Davyred

    Davyred Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    Fantastic read
  16. Sambo

    Sambo To the MAX!

    Great read Rupert and a big well done to Rodney. Top fishing :yes:
  17. rdngd

    rdngd Whitby Fishing Forum _ Simply The Best

    Firstly I would like to say a massive thanks to Rupert I am the guy he put on that fantastic shark the other day way out in the North Sea out of Whitby. I have only known Rupert for about two years it was shark that brought us to each other and he is one of the most dedicated and professional anglers I know. His passion for shark fishing here in the UK is amazing and the other day it all paid off as they say " I love it when a plan comes together " Yes I have caught bigger shark but as I spend most of the year in the Florida Keys big shark are very common and we have shark this size and bigger most days but this one the other day was very special to me.
    To describe the 45 min fight it was between a Lemon and a Bull not the speed of a Tiger or big Hammerhead but as we would say a serious fish to have on the end of your line.
    I must also say on the way out Rupert said the first fish is yours no option that just sums up the man top bloke. Also for a person who does not have the opportunity to do this on a regular basis his boat handling and fish handling were first class.

    Thanks again Rodney Goodship
  18. Dav

    Dav Rockling

    Bloody hell ! ...Another top report and fishing Rupert :yes: :yes:.
    So what other sharks are out there ready to be caught I wonder . Do you think you could target different ones with different tactics or would they all get caught with your tecniques ?
    Thanks for sharing .
  19. wilky

    wilky Blenny

    A cracking read thx Rupert
  20. bucko

    bucko New Member

    Reports don't come much better than that.
    Well done Rupert- you really are a true sportsman...of the best type!!!

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