I recently made a flying visit to Cobh in southern
Ireland. I was scheduled out for a days blue shark fishing with Jim Linehan aboard the Deora De and walking down on to the quay at 08.30 the wind was light, the sky clear and a hot sun was baking the ground. Ideal conditions!
Pushing out 14 miles from the mouth of
Harbour the sea had some swell here and carried a light chop. I like this as it diffuses the light penetrating through the water column and helps lift the sharks in the water as they feel more secure.
I was fishing with a great bunch of lads from the Dundalk area and a couple of the brave ones, still carrying a bad head from the previous night’s festivities in the bar, started to chop up mackerel, mix in the bran and oil and pound the whole horrible mess in to a glutinous mixture that would fill three mesh bags to provide a bloody slick in the tide to draw the sharks in.
First away was Brian Gallagher, this just 20 minutes or so after we’d put the baits out suspended at different depths under balloons. This was a good battle with the fish hanging deep, then running and hanging deep again. At the side of the boat it looked about 50 to 60lbs, a nice start.
I was fishing a Penn International 16S reel and a Penn Waveblaster 20/30 rod. Normally I’d fish even lighter, but when you’re on a boat with other lads its best to get the fish to the boat as quick as possible so everyone has the maximum chance of landing a shark. I’d caught fresh mackerel for bait at the start and judged the speed of the drift of the boat. This suggested that the scent lane from the mackerel would be shallow and work well away from the boat, so being one of the first balloons out I chose to set my balloon at just 30-feet.
The sound of a screaming reel broke the onboard banter and after a brief fight a shark was lost when the hook pulled close to the boat. My balloon was still way out and I saw it suddenly shudder and dip, then power away over the surface as a shark ate the bait. This was another fish that hung deep in the tide and went down well over 100-feet before slowly being pumped back, but with some good runs taking yards of line in between. Another fish between 50 and 60lbs.
I re-baited my rod but said to the lads, that having had my shark, one of the other lads should have the rod should a shark take.
This was exactly what happened and my International screamed off a short time later and Sean Rafferty picked up the rod, set the hook and hunkered down to do battle. From the outset I realised this was a much bigger fish. It was slow and heavy, but when it ran it took its time but was unstoppable. I stood at the side of Sean and watched as line trickled off the reel as the shark went deep. 20 minutes later he was sweating and had to sit down briefly on the engine hatch. Having recovered a little he fought the fish hard and as the trace swivel came in to view we all drew breath at the size of the fish. Lengthed and girthed, then tagged and released after photos she weighed a whopping 140lbs.
Next in was Brian Thompson who’d lost an earlier fish. This was another good scrap and he boated another shark estimated between 60 and 70lbs.
Also aboard was rookie angler Paddy McGeever. He’d only been fishing three times before. The next run he took and you could see he was unsure what to expect. This shark felt the hook and took off on a long run going deep at the same time. It sulked down there and would not budge. He played the fish like a veteran and pumped the fish hard to gain line. Slowly it came up and you could see the angle of the line shallowing. We saw the fish out at range close to the surface and it looked big.
It made one last deep dive and had to be pumped all the way back again, but at the side of the boat it looked even bigger than the 140lber. Lengthed and girthed it gave a weight of 160lbs and was Paddy’s first ever shark. What a way to start your shark career!
It was getting late now, so we used up the last of the rubby dubby to try for one last shark. It happened to be my reel that spoke first and after a 15 minute fight I boated another shark about 60lbs.
During the day the lads also dropped other sharks that either spat the bait or shook the hook after a brief fight. There were a lot of blues out there!
Shark fishing is an incredible experience. You’re always fishing for the unknown. Yes you target blue sharks as we did on the day, but you never know what might take the bait. It could be a blue, a porbeagle, a thresher or even the mighty mako in
UK and Irish waters. That element of the unknown is why I’ll always be a shark fishing nut!