Fishy Tales from the Emerald Isle –

Blue’s a plenty in Cork…..Terry’s Travels

Sid targets Blue Shark

Brien’s fish.

Last year’s Shark angling was excellent off the Cork coast, with many large fish landed, and quite a few exceeding the magical 100lbs barrier. They remained and were caught through-out the summer months and well into autumn.
Summer sea temperatures are lower this year, about a month behind normal, but with this great weather we have been experiencing recently, it was now time to gear up for sharks once again, and get out on the water to see what was about.
With a forecast of light winds and plenty of sun-shine, the opportunity arrived for my brothers and I, and a chance to see for myself whether the rumours of “Blues” having arrived were true. To save time, over the winter months I had built up a small stock of frozen fish carcasses and guts, generously donated by my local fish monger. By adding bran and herring oil, we were ready to go with the chum trail, and only needed a few fresh mackerel for hook-baits.
After a few hours sleep, we were soon afloat and in search of those precious mackerel. Diving birds gave the game away, and in no time at all, we had our fresh hook-baits. It was now time to head out for the deeper water that Blue Shark prefer, anywhere around the 200 ft mark will put you in with a chance of finding a shark.

an onion sack containing mashed fish, herring oil and bran leeches out a scent trail.

Once in position, the important scent trail is created using the fish and guts, mixed with bran and oil, hung over the side of the boat in an onion sack. The wave motion gently shakes the onion sack letting out oil and particles over a wide area. It doesn’t usually take long before sharks cross its path and quickly home in on the source of the scent trail.
Fresh Mackerel is suspended under a balloon, and in this area, it must be set at least forty feet deep to avoid Gannets attacking the hook-bait. Blue Shark aren’t exactly hook-shy, so make sure the point of the hook is sharp and well exposed for maximum chance of a hook-up.

balloon to suspend the mackerel flapper hook-bait

The tide was slack and the light wind did nothing to help us create a good scent trail, but we knew that the turn of the tide would soon have us moving nicely along and into the path of hunting predators. Before long, a reel screamed into action and we had our first Shark action of 2013. Although a small fish at 65lbs, it put up a great scrap, and just as we released it, another rod buckled from a shark attack. This turned out to be another hard-fighting Blue of almost identical size. Sharks of this size are great fun and easily handled and released.

Sid’s 65lb fish

The session then went quiet, and we topped up the scent trail. Another hour passed and all hell broke loose with a double hook-up, with both sharks played to the boat at the same time. One fish was smaller and lightly hooked, and for fish safety, we released this at the side of the boat. This gave us time to safely land the other shark, and quickly take a few photographs.

A single mackerel flapper

A double flapper for greater scent

As we were thinking of calling it a day, my Brother Robert’s rod sprang into life, and it soon became apparent that this was a larger specimen. It fought hard for over thirty minutes, diving deep and giving a fantastic account of itself. As it neared the boat, it was obviously larger, and eventually bottomed out our 100lb scales! As a specimen hunter, I knew this was a specimen fish, but for accuracy, boat caught specimens must be weighed on shore. The vast majority of Irish anglers will not kill specimens, and of course, we quickly and safely returned our shark. The Irish Specimen Fish Committee has worked tirelessly over the years in a bid to protect our species, with DNA identification and a new length-based measurement for specimen Tope. I hope they bring in something similar for Blue Shark; it would be nice to tick that specimen off the list.

Robert’s shark, over 100lbs

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