Porbeagle Shark Fishing At Whitby

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Porbeagle Shark Fishing At Whitby

Rupert Drury Tells Of His Recent Shark Fishing Trip Aboard Rich Wards Boat Shytorque 3

After my previous trip on 16th June, I had a nagging doubt that the next mission was not going to be successful. Many factors need to fall into place, weather, bait, tides and a good measure of luck. The weather forecast over the 48 hours leading up to the trip looked decidedly questionable. The online Met Office inshore Forecast on Sunday showed a proliferation of red on east coast of the UK map. Strong coastal winds were forecast for Rattray Head to Berwick on Tweed and also for the area below us; Whitby to Gibraltar Point. Amazingly, Berwick on Tweed to Whitby had no red line – so perhaps there might be a chance to get out again? A call to Rich Ward that evening confirmed the trip was on.

whitby porbeagle shark fishing

We’d arranged an early start, as I had no reserves of frozen mackerel in my freezer. Rich had been told that there were plenty of mackerel at the 3 mile mark, so we were hoping for the best. I pulled into the car park just after 5.00 a.m. and found the parking place next to the pontoon gangway free, so that made unloading all the multitude of gear from my pickup that much easier. By 5.30 a.m. we were underway, exactly on schedule.

The heavy rain and winds had coloured the sea and there was no chance of mackerel round the bell buoy, but the information about the 3 mile mark was bang on and string full after string full of mackerel were soon coming aboard. What a difference to the trip last month, where it was a result just to catch a single mackerel! We’d filled three fish boxes in half an hour, so that would give us all we needed for the day ahead. John Wilcox and I set too making the rubby dubby, as Rich took us further out to sea. Fresh mackerel are easier to smash up once they have been cut through from front to back with a filleting knife – so I did that, while John wielded my purpose made dubby masher. The remaining rubby dubby ingredients were added and within 20 minutes we had two batches of rubby dubby stewing in readiness.

John Farrow was looking green. :vomit: :vomit: :sick: He declined the comfort of the angler’s cabin and remained in the fresh air on deck. Using a sack of bran as a makeshift pillow, I took the opportunity to get my head down for an hour, but like a big kid waiting for Father Christmas to arrive, I always find the anticipation of what may lay ahead makes it difficult to sleep! I must have nodded off, as I awoke to Rich letting me know we’d be ‘there’ in 10 minutes.

By the time we’d arrived out at the Wall, John Farrow’s condition had improved and he helped John Wilcox with the anchor and rope. The anchor bit first time and Rich engaged the props to swing the bow of the boat into the wind. We were to fish on exactly the same mark where we had success the previous month. My suggestion to Rich however, that I thought he should really have dropped anchor 27 metres ‘to the left’ was treated with the contempt it deserved!

The traps were set by 8.30 a.m. – Two buckets of rubby dubby out on either side of the stern and Kermit the frog croaking in the middle. “Kermit” is an underwater speaker that makes a drum like noise. It’s one of these Yankee electronic gismos designed to attract mako shark. I don’t really know whether it does any good or not, but on the basis that it hasn’t repelled shark yet, it comes out with me on these trips. I thought I should explain, otherwise some-one will ask what the battery on deck was doing in the photos that have just been posted. I had the usual four 50 lb class rods in place, two fished beneath the boat at 10 metres and 20 metres and two float fished baits behind the boat fished at 15 and 30 metres depth respectively.

I have recently changed the way I hook the mackerel baits and instead of threading the trace through the baits and fishing the mackerel upside down, I have been using bridle rigs which are a bit like a carp hair rig. I also tried dropping the hook size from 10/0 to 9/0 on a couple of rods as I don’t think it was necessary to use such large hooks, particularly on the size of mackerel being used.

Slack water was due around mid-day and the hour leading up to slack can often be when the shark come on the take, so it was with some surprise at just after 10.00 am when I noticed the rod fishing 10 metes beneath the boat had nodded. Porbeagles can take the bait very gently in the early stages and I was lucky to be on alert when the rod tip jagged once, but not even hard enough to pull line from ratchet on the reel. Picking up the rod, taking off the safety line and disengaging the reel confirmed this was indeed an enquiry and after letting the shark run for 5 seconds (but feels like forever) the lever drag was pushed to strike position and I pulled into the fish. The rubbing leader is 5m of heavy 400lb mono and this has sufficient elasticity to cushion the main impact from close quarter contact with the 100lb braid line I use, but even so, the first few moments of contact with a shark, which by now is still less than 30 metres away can be quite savage.

The two Johns and Rich wound the other rods in out of the way and battle commenced properly once Rich had got my big game butt pad in place for me. The 24kg. 7’6” Penn rods I use are ideal (in my opinion) for this type of sharking. These rods possess the poke further down the blank to really apply some pressure, but at the same time have a softish tip which works well with the braided mainline. The fight was typical porgbeagle – win line, lose line then as the fish tires and comes towards the boat, the longer rod comes into play as the fish tries to swim underneath, sometimes several times. Meanwhile John Farrow captured the moment on video until my digi camera ran out of memory just before we saw the shark.

I had agreed with Rich that unless we had a good reason to do so, I was quite happy unhooking the shark alongside the boat without lifting it aboard. The bridle rigs, combined with an early strike meant that shark should not be deep hooked and indeed so it proved when the shark surfaced. Rich leant over the side, held the wire biting leader in a leather gloved hand and with the oversized disgorger, popped the hook out. Once free, the shark immediately righted itself and swam back down to the depths. Size wise, we estimated that it was pretty similar to my second fish caught on the last trip around 130lbs. Hearty hand shakes followed all round – we’d managed to do it once again! :happy: :happy: :happy:

Sharking trips are busy in terms of keeping up the rubby dubby, but once this is done, there can be long periods of waiting. When the tide slackens, it can be possible to bottom fish at anchor and this is what John Wilcox did for the next hour or so. Meanwhile “Mystic Girl” behaved more like a ‘big girl’ and reverted back to his previous green colour, collapsing at the bow of the boat with another bout of sea sickness. :vomit: :vomit: :wink

A sharp rasping from the ratchet of my biggest Shimano Tiagra reels promptly brought everyone to their senses once again. But hang on guys? – There’s more than one reel going!! The closest rod was also going for a second time; line was still running off the distant rod and a third reel was simultaneously sounding!!! This was crazy stuff. :crazy: :crazy: John Farrow grabbed the big Tiagra and I watched out of the corner of my eye as the tip of the Penn pulled hard round indicating a successful hook up. Rich grabbed the ‘empty’ rod, John Wilcox had the third rod and I hooked into the shark on the closest rod. With the butt pad in place, I started to lean into the shark which was running line off against the drag into the depths. Then the line went slack for a second or two, and then taught again, before finally dropping slack. I wound in an empty hook which had tangled with the rod John Wilcox was holding – that probably explained the escape.

Meanwhile “Mystic Girl” John was still gallantly hanging onto the distant shark. He was not entirely familiar with my big lever drag reels, but the pre-set drag had saved any disasters and John told me to take over from him as he busied himself with the camera. After 10 minutes or so, the fish was closing towards the boat, but then changed direction and ran up tide towards the anchor rope. Despite leaning hard into the shark, there was no stopping it and it ran over the top of the anchor rope before diving deep again. A nasty grating sensation transmitted down the braid, so I immediately slid the lever drag back to reduce all pressure to try and prevent the braid being chaffed by the rope. By this time I was at the bow of the boat, but I could see that if I looped the rod once round the anchor rope, I might be back in action. Not wanting to drop £600 of rod and reel in the soup at full stretch and with shark attached, it was with some relief that this manoeuvre was completed. Five minutes later, the shark was alongside and we saw that it was neatly hooked in the scissors once again. This time, the hook had got a firmer hold and wouldn’t pop out, so every time Rich pushed down with the disgorger, the shark just sank slightly deeper in the water. Rather than cut the stainless wire, I decided to lift the shark onboard and once on deck, the hooked was popped out straight away. The shark was similar in size to the previous fish and a quick photo was taken of Rich and me with the fish, then away he went back to the depths once again.

Midday came and went and at around 2.00pm a large seal bobbed his head 50 metres to the stern of the boat. The seal had disappeared for 20 minutes when the furthest rod chirped into life. I wound down and lifted into a good weight only for the hook to pull. Winding in about 10 metres of line, the rod arched over once again, before dropping slack. We put this enquiry down to the rogue seal, but who knows?

By this time the tide was pulling through quite hard and I had never had any success sharking at anchor in these conditions, but with two sharks already, I for one wasn’t complaining. By this time, Rich had decided it was time to take his afternoon siesta nap and was deep in sleep when the reel on the distant rod rasped into life. RICH……RICH!!! A bleary eyed skipper squinted into the sun as I beckoned him over. By the time he had got to the stern of his boat, I’d tightened down into the shark and could then safely pass the rod over to him. Rich had patiently watched me enough times of late , so I thought that after all these trips with him, it was time for him to participate rather than spectate! The shark ran towards Rich as he wound in some 70 m- 80 metres of line, not really knowing whether the shark was really attached or not. We then pointed out that if it had gone, how come the line and float was continuing to make its way past him up tide?? By this time the bend in the rod indicated that this was a more modest sized specimen and so it proved. It turned out to be the smallest shark I’d ever seen at around 40lbs, but was a perfect miniature porbeagle. Like the other sharks earlier in the day, it had spun and wrapped the biting and rubbing leader round itself. When you see this happen so close to the boat, it makes you realise how important a proper sharking leader setup is. The shark was small enough to be easily and safely handled, so we lifted it in onboard to unhook and also so Rich could have his photo taken with it. We fished on for another hour and a half with no more action, before deciding to call it a day.

Every trip I like to think that I am learning a little bit more and having written off the distance rods was amazed how much action they saw this trip. We also caught in tide conditions, where I thought we had little hope. Because there has still been relatively little sharking done off this stretch of the coast, there is still much to learn, but I am gradually coming more confident with my approach as each trip goes by. Two out of two successful trips, convinces me that my luck can’t hold out for my remaining trips booked this year – or can it?

By | 2018-03-23T08:52:14+00:00 July 22nd, 2009|Boat Fishing, Featured|4 Comments

About the Author:

Rupert Drury, species specialist - I’m Yorkshire born and bred and live near Malton, North Yorkshire. Fishing wise, I’m a bit of an all rounder – a fanatical sea angler, as well as a keen coarse and game fisherman. The majority of my sea fishing is done from boats, both private and charter. I particularly enjoy targeting the larger species of sea fish, especially sharks. A few large species PB’s are Porbeagle 248lb (Whitby 2005), Skate 195lb (Firth of Lorne 2008), Conger 66lb (English Channel 2005), Tope 50lb. (Hornsea 2009).


  1. Mark Dobson August 9, 2009 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Enjoyed reading your article. Found it after looking for a local news item where and angler foul hooked a porbeagle shark on feathers from Blyth pier. Good video footage on the local news but nothing on the web yet. Good luck for your future trips!

  2. Justin December 25, 2012 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    It’s big game angling in the uk I’ve got a boat o
    In Brid had hold of 2 last summer and numerous tope

  3. Justin December 25, 2012 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    The shark fishing around the east coast is the best in the uk probably because not many people fish for them lets hope it stays this way when those mackerel start running u are in with a good chance of hooking up

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