The 4am alarm call and meeting Steve Dawe at 05.15 for an early shot at this seasons blue sharks had serious “not quite awake yet” consequences !! After transferring my gear in to Steve’s car we headed off to Penzance. Arriving at quayside and greeted with strong easterly winds and the prospect of heavy down pours all day, it was then that I realised my water proofs and flotation suit where still on the back seat of my car !!!!!! School boy error …. and one I am not likely to make again after this experience !!
Anyway, quick introductions and handshakes with our two other fishing companions for the day, Sam Jones and Jethro (not the Cornish comedian, I just didn’t get his surname !!) and we headed off to board our vessel, Bite Adventures, a 9 meter catamaran, skippered by Chippie Chapman. After a quick discussion, Chippie decided that we would steam out a little further today, as although they were catching blues in shore, they were quite small (around 20 to 30lb) and he figured the bigger ones would be further out. So we settled down and headed south for around 32 miles.
During the hour and half steam, Chippie got out the frozen mackerel and prepared the rubby dubby in a way I hadn’t seen before. He rigs up a large sausage making machine and feeds the mackerel in to the top. Mixing with some bran and fish oil, it produces the perfect rubby dubby, quickly and cleanly, no mess or smell.
When we get to the mark, Chippie and crew start to rig up the shark rods, all top quality Fin Nor tackle, loaded with 30lb braid and long wire traces. In the meantime, we set about catching some fresh mackerel for bait and more ruby dubby.
Once all set, it’s left to decide who gets first strike ? Chippie asks who hasn’t caught a shark before, of which Jethro has the “honour”, so he has first strike. All 4 rods out, baited with fresh mackerel, set at different distances and depths, the spirits and confidence is high, the anticipation obvious and the conversation flowing and full of fishing talk.
5 hours later, beaten constantly by the wind and rain, cold and wet (especially me with no suit) and no action on the rods, spirits are starting to wain. Chippie and his crew work tirelessly mixing and putting in new rubby dubby and changing the baits, but its a difficult day trying to get the slick right.
Then suddenly, 6 hours after we set sail, the sound of a screaming reel brings us all to life. Jethro is up and on his rod, the smile is back on everyone’s face, but the fish spits his bait almost immediately. Chippie takes the rods and gives it a few quick reels and jerks and the shark takes the bait for a second time, this time it’s on. After a few good runs it is soon by the side of the boat. Not a biggy, around 50lb, but were off the mark and Jehtro has his first shark under his belt.
It isn’t long before the next reel starts to “click” and the 2nd shark is on. Sam is on the rod and soon brings another blue to the side of the boat. This time a bit smaller at around 40lb, but at least they are starting to show and we are catching.
Steve Dawe is up on the rod next and with 2 sharks in quick succession anticipation is high and soon rewarded as the rod bends and the line on the reel rips off. Straight away we are aware this is a bigger fish than the previous two, so Steve plays the fish carefully and skilfully endures and subdues several arm aching runs before the fish is safely boated. Estimated at around 75lb, Steve is chuffed to bits with his first ever May blue shark in the UK. After careful unhooking and a quick photo, the fish is back in the water and looking for his next meal.
So, with all 3 of my compatriots catching their fish, it’s my turn on the rod next. There’s still 4 hours of fishing left, so whilst I am very cold and wet, I am confident that I will soon have a fish on the boat and all thoughts about the hot bath and bowl of soup I need will be gone…. Roll on 3 hours !! …..
Yes, 3 long hours later, Chippie keeping me alive and warding off the frost bite with plenty of hot tea, the rod finally bends and the line peels of the reel, that fantastic clicking sound bringing me back to life.
The fish fights well and although it doesn’t feel like a big one, it is a very welcome one nonetheless. It runs hard and deep for several minutes before it is finally on board and I am greeted with a few high 5’s and pats on the back – given the state I was in it wasn’t a bad achievement and one of which was recognised by all aboard !! Not massive, but at around 60lb I am more than happy.
With nearly an hour left to go, the rods are back out and ready for the next one. I am suddenly warm inside again, albeit that the pins and needles in my finger tips are the only signs of life I can feel on my outer body !!!
With 20 minutes fishing time left to go, Jethro hooks into his 2nd shark of the day. At the side of the boat it is estimated at around 50lb and quickly released in the water.
So with a total of 5 sharks for the day, we head off back to port.
In the summer months, 5 sharks may be considered a poor day, but in May and, (trust me), with the weather blowing a hooly, battering us with wind and rain all day and around 10 degrees, I think 5 sharks on that given day was a bloody good effort and big thanks to Chippie Chapman and his crew for putting in all the effort and working tirelessly throughout the day to help us achieve our catches and looking forward to having another crack at the sharks with him in October.
Thank you also to Steve Dawe for inviting me on this trip and to my two new fishing friends, Sam and Jethro. All good company and extended thanks for keeping my spirits up when the chips and my body temperature was down !!!
#NOTE TO SELF – NEVER FORGET YOUR WATER PROOFS AND/OR SUIT AGAIN !!!!!!!!!!