The sun had just risen over the horizon as we stealthily made our way out of Plymouth harbour. Our mission was to do battle with the Blue sharks off the Devon coastline, an annual trip I have made several times with our kid but this time we dragged along a sharking 'virgin', Martin.
Although we didn't quite have the whole ocean to ourselves we were the only anglers venturing out that day. A force four/five breeze meant that anchoring up over wrecks was not possible but as we would be drifting it was safe to fish but not easy to retain your breakfast as both Martin and Nathan proved! It meant that there was more sausage rolls and pork pie for my lunch though!!
From the Mackerel grounds we then steamed out the rest of the 22 miles to our drift which would take us another five miles over several wrecks.
The tackle used was 30 pound class boat rods multiplier reels loaded with 50 pound mono, 200 pound mono leader, wire trace and large circle hooks. Poly ball floats were clipped to the line allowing us to adjust the depths of the Mackerel flapper baits.
The Mackerel was mashed and deposited over the side in an onion sack to allow the scent, oils and bits of fish to create an attractive slick for the sharks to follow. As sharks can smell a drop of blood from miles away I'm not sure the whole fish carnage is necessary but it has been done this way for years so I never question the skipper's methods.
A rotation system is in place for the three rods with everyone starting with one each(after a draw has been made) and when an angler has landed a fish he relinquishes his rod until all the others have caught.
Nathan's rod was the first to register but in the time it took him to get to it the fish had dropped the bait. It was obviously hungry though and immediately picked up mine instead. A strange fight ensued where it came straight at the boat and then didn't really cause me any problems until it was close in. Not a monster but at least it was a start.
Occasionally sharks spit their stomachs out in an attempt to eject something they don't want inside them-like a hook. It does them no harm and they swallow them back down and live perfectly fine. It makes for a gross photo mind you so I have heavily cropped the image below for those of a weak constitution, don't want Martin and Nathan to be sick again!
Then there followed a lengthy period of inactivity but finally the deepest rod signalled a take and Martin landed his first ever 'Blue' and he seemed so pleased that he gave it a 'Rex Hunt' style kiss.
The slick was obviously working extremely well now and before long Nathan landed his own bit of Blue.
There was one slight problem we had in that the Sharks were not the only creatures attracted to the fishy trail, a couple of hungry Gannets joined us and they were a nightmare when trying to get the baits out to the right area. These huge 'Pterodactyls' as the skipper calls them have amazing eyesight and the ability to dive really deep, enough to attack the bait. Several times they descended into the depths to retrieve what they thought was a free meal only to find a big hook buried in it.
Amusing at first and magnificent to see these huge birds in action but it was a relief when they buggered off. Thankfully we didn't hook any of them!
Also in the slick were plenty of Garfish which are great fun to play on light tackle. I cannot resist catching a few and my Avon rod and eight pound line could only just cope. To be honest when I hooked a 2lb 4oz specimen it really beat me up but thankfully the size eight hook held firm and I landed a new pb.
We did manage a couple more Sharks between us, a small one for me that was spared a photo session and the biggest of the day to Martin, a 5foot 11inch specimen weighing approximately 45lb.
|Ignore the 'Pussy Pouch' and lipstick!|