Another great job of work by our weather forecasting body was last week. They gave a flat wind spot for mid-week so I saddled up “Hi Sea Drifter” for a run out to try for a Thresher shark off the Isle of Wight. This area has produced more Thresher sharks than any other place around the British Isles and I believe the record for Britain’s best ever shark skipper from Gosport, Hants was around 11 Threshers in one season alone. Anyway, you can see my excitement as its more than a few years since I got my first British Thresher shark with Skipper Cliff Cripps out of Lymington. A pig rough day, that Thresher took right in the middle of the tide rip by St. Catherine’s Deeps. So although I have had other Threshers abroad (Pacific Big Eye Threshers) I thought I was in for a nice flat calm day, on my own, chumming in the sunshine. Wrong!!….
I try to batter my way through the force 4 southerly just to get through the half mile wind-against-tide situation that makes Chichester entrance such a place NOT to be. I barely managed 6 knots and it was as obvious from the outset that I would be unable to get to my secret Thresher mark near Bognor (have to keep it secret as some of the superheroes are racing around like headless chickens trying to be the first to get 4 of the British shark species. Before I know it they’ll all be piling onto the Bognor spot). So I opted for a spot where the tide would push any chum through a gap in the sandbars to where the Threshers hunt the bass shoals. With the anchor down I felt a bit better and a chum tube went down to the bottom and a bag of 18 month old rotted Bacon fat went out in the chum bag. Mixed with Supermarket wholemeal bread it was a sort of bacon sandwich smell for any potential Thresher shark. I was told by a self -confessed shark expert down in Falmouth that sharks often fed on the cattle (and I guess pigs) that fell overboard from galleon ships in the early
Victorian era and that they would often track these vessels for long distances in the hope of a piggy slipping on the deck. In some of my old books I do recall they used great hunks of meat to catch Tiger sharks that followed vessels into ports, so while the wife wasn’t about to let me use her best Beef sirloin for bait, I had to make do with whatever I could. Out went my Sardine bait (had no mackerel in the freezer) suspended by my unpatented, but certainly my own invention of a break-free sliding shark float. I used a Du-Bro sailfish release clip, but you can use rubber bands. Full details on our top selling “Ultimate guide to Blue shark fishing” DVD. Its easier to see than it is to describe. Trace was state of the art. I don’t bother with all that wind-on-leader-tuna-circle-hook stuff that seems all the fashion. I prefer the early Georgian straight J-hook, either Eagle Claw cad plated 10/0 O’Shaughnessy for pull-release on 300 pound sharks, or the Mustad 7731 straight marlin hook or offset 7699 in the 8/0 Thresher size with angled cut removed and cone-cut point for easy penetration (Did I just say all that ?? I must have a lie down !!) Trace is 49 strand stainless used on slightly larger vessels like the type 45-Destroyer. A large barrel swivel joins the trace to the rubbing leader of mono. My contact in Falmouth likes to use a 10-inch shackle from a pilot tug, but I prefer a 4/0 Berkley barrel. Rubbing leader is 10 feet of 2mm green strimmer line, as a strimmer line seems much harder and durable, bearing in mind the length of the Thresher shark tail. If you don’t use a long trace the Thresher will cut through the line and of course then all you can do is talk about the “one-that-got-away” for the rest of your life. Being on my own I had decided to use my marlin reel, a Triton 50 wide which carries the backup of an extra 200 yards of line strapped onto my trusty Calstar stand-up tuna stick, double rated 30/80lb IGFA class. I decided this wasn’t the area for a wooden Scarborough reel and 7 feet of cuttyhunk line and breadbasket full of Anchovy paste and Herring entrails.
With wind against tide it was about as enjoyable as a day spent reading a shark book with the wrong reading glasses. So I fired down some bottom baits. Within minutes I was into heavy fish. A big Smoothound came over the side, was filmed, and released. That marked the start of mayhem. Fish after fish came over the side of “Hi Sea Drifter” and as the tide slackened they went into overdrive. It turned into one of the best Thresher shark sessions I have had, but…..with no Threshers!! I had Black bream, Dogfish, 2 big Thornbacks and….14 nice Smoothound. Result!! I sent a text down to Wayne Comben, who actually has caught the biggest Thresher shark ever filmed in Britain, as he was indeed down in Falmouth having a go at the Blues and the outside chance of a Mako. Would you believe it, he had flat calm conditions, while I had been pitching around like a Penn Senator 10/0 in a washing machine!! So, a great day fishing for me, but no Thresher shark, but with the rest of summer and hopefully some good weather, my shark expert contact in Falmouth tells me there is every chance of getting one when the next Trans- Atlantic convoy of animals is brought over, but it has to be rough south westerly conditions so the occasional animal skids on a bar of soap in the shower and pops over the side. Those sharks won’t be far behind.
On the freshwater side I went off with Mike to the “dark side”….fishing for Carp all night at Old Bury Lake in Dorking. It’s a long time since I did that. Mesmerised by wind tripping buzzers I decided against the luxury of Mike’s bivvy, and went for it, old-school, hard-core style, sitting in a plastic deck chair by the rods so I could hit any fish immediately. Staying awake literally all night. It was just the way we fished 40/50 years ago, with a piece of sliver paper on the line, and eyes out like organ stops, straining through the gloom. Buzzers hadn’t been invented though, down west they had upped from fish-baskets to onion sacks for holding the shark chum. I believe like me using silver paper, some of those old timers were still in the early Neolithic era of fishing, and while they might cling to those techniques I was indeed only doing this one-night session as a bit of fun. It was quite a pleasure to sit in that chair all night. With my Helly Hansen charity shop jacket on and straw rammed into boots to “fend off the cold” I did manage to come out on top, with “old school” getting two carp, while “ new school “asleep in the bivvy came out to crank in the biggest of the night with a nice 15lb 8oz mirror Carp. Film is scheduled in the edit suite so watch out for it. For those clinging to yesteryear it may also be available in black and white. If you have a valve radio powered by bacon fat it might also be available in an audio podcast that can be received on 775 KHz, or two bean cans with a bit of string in between. How technology has improved since Magna Carta was signed.
Those of you looking for Tench films, I hope to have a contact in Gloucestershire later in the week where I hope to FINALLY get a Tench film done. Each season goes by and before you know it the Tench are tough and I’m out off Falmouth drifting for sharks, or in Ireland for the big Common Skate. Actually some of you may have heard that the latest big Porbeagle spot is St.Ives. Well trip my anchor, and smack my boat with a wet kipper!! If you recall I mentioned in one of the films which I filmed out from Newquay, that the geographical contours of the land mass to the west of Newquay looked absolutely ideal to become the next Porbeagle shark spot. That was back (on another rough day) I think in September. Clear water, good tides, and on a line which the big beagles run every year as they head up to coast into the southern Bristol Channel. Our small boat guys (14 to 17 foot max) have been catching these big sharks for over forty years. It’s pretty obvious that these Porbeagle run in from the Atlantic, then further up the coast past Godrevy Island, all the way to St.Agnes, a couple of miles off. In fact, next stop Newquay, which if you can pick up a skipper would be a great place to try for one of the sharks. Fishing for sharks ain’t rocket science, just a good chum trail to let them find you. What I really must do is try and get an interview with Britain’s top shark skipper who used to operate from Gosport fishing the Isle of Wight (and all round the world for Marlin and Tuna) . It would give any up and coming skipper looking to make a name for himself a good target to aim for. I think this man holds the record for most Porbeagle in one day, I recall it was SIXTEEN!, and he certainly had the handle on the Thresher shark market, with clients booking him all the time just for this species. I’ll see if I can track him down and get some interviews of those incredible and historic shark catches.
So that’s it for now, I’m off to use the bean can and string to establish contact with points west. The mackerel will hopefully soon turn up in numbers. If they don’t we all know there’s going to be a tough summer of sea fishing ahead. Meantime I have a meeting (hopefully) with a Tench, and a whole list of other species on our filming hitlist. There can’t be many more left to film, but keep watching the TOTALLY AWESOME FISHING SHOW….soon to pass an amazing total of 70,000 subscribers…Good luck out there.
I certainly made the most of the weather window on the weekend. With Dad actually suggesting a Carp fishing trip – is he feeling ok??? Either way, with limited time to go fishing I snapped up the opportunity like a shark in a chum trail! The plan was for a quick overnight carp session. Both of us were fishing snowman rigs. A 20mm boilie and 10mm pop up on top, fished on the standard hair rig. Two rigs were fished with inline leads and two on drop off leads. We spombed out some of Graeme’s homemade groundbait which you can click here to see how to make. We then sprinkled some freebee boilies over the top. Both of us fished two rigs out in the middle and one rig about 10 yards out from the snags on the far bank. We were told that the carp fishing can really kick off at Old Bury Hill as soon as it gets dark. Well after Graeme being there all day on the Saturday, feeding up the spot (you have to put a lot of feed in, as the Bream will eat it all otherwise), my sat nav sent me in all sorts of directions to get there! What is it with the modern day sat nav and it going out of its way to send you down the most neglected road possible? I must have my settings set to “as the crow flies” as half the time it asks me to TURN LEFT NOW where all I can see around me is fields??? Anyway, I made it to OBH and set up the bivvy. We got some filming done while it was still light and low and behold at 10:20pm I noticed a drop back bite on the far rod. I hit into it and ended up having an awesome fight with a 15lb 8oz carp. It kited left towards an overhanging snag, I had to keep a tight drag and give it lots of side strain to prevent it from running to the sanctuary of the snags. After a decent fight we got it in the net and it was a warrior of a fish! We had plenty of small bleeps on the bite alarm throughout the night, but this was mostly due to Bream. This is why we were using snowman rigs and 20mm boilies, otherwise we would have been up all night winding in Bream! Graeme got two more late in the night, one was definitely a double, the other was approaching double figures. The next day saw no activity. I think that everything is late this year. We had heard from the owner that the fish had only spawned recently, and he said that some of them might be yet to spawn. Either way, the carp fishing in general has been relatively tough. I reckon things will kick off in about two weeks time, once this hot spell of weather has passed through. I thoroughly enjoyed the fishing, even though it was quite tough. I’m already looking to plan my next session! Good luck to anyone out fishing this week – don’t forget to send us your catches on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! By the way, if you have been on our Facebook recently you will have noticed the awesome artwork made for us by Alex Arnault-Ham. Alex is a professional cartoon illustrator and he is very talented! Read the full story here and let us know how you want the next part of the story to go! Check out Alex’s website here: http://www.alexarnaultham.com/
LATEST TAFISHING EPISODES: