Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Bob the Builder catches a Record Blue Shark

Today I was on board 'Bite Adventures' skippered by Chippy Chapman out of Penzance in search of sharks. An average day sees 6-8 blues landed with the boat record at 186lb. As we sailed the ten miles out to sea, little did we know what the day held in store!

As Chippy prepared the rubby-dubby mix the rest of us set about the task of catching fresh mackerel for bait, and to supplement the rubby-dubby later in the day.

Three sacks of rubby-dubby were hung overboard, so that with each roll of the boat, some of the smelly concoction would be washed out of the bags downtide setting up a scent trail.

The anglers on board drew lots to decide who would take the first, second, third shark etc. This is common practice when using hire gear. Four shark outfits were set up and before long a line of floats were awaiting the sharks. The nearest rod was set shallow with the depth increasing the further out the rod was fished. Bob the Builder, Bob Pollard of the Looe Sea Anglers Club, set up his own rod and a fifth float joined the lineup.

"Shark!" exclaimed Chippy. A group of excited anglers watched as a large blue and a smaller fish worked their way up the trail before disappearing into the depths. Seconds later the reel screamed on the closest rod and the first shark of the day was on. The shark sounded for the bottom, however the hook pulled out after only a few seconds. From the way it dived for the bottom Chippy suspected that we had just lost a Porbeagle.

Within seconds another reel was screaming and Chippy passed the rod to me. The fight was soon over as the shark was only around 40lb and had wrapped itself up the wire trace.

Several of us set up light freelining or float tackle to fish for the specimen garfish that also work their way up the rubby dubby trail. It was great fun with multiple hookups and specimen garfish providing aerial battles on the light tackle. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the largest, a 3lb fish to Shane. My largest weighed in at 2lb 2oz and there were other fish landed in the two pound class.

After the initial excitement, all had gone quiet on the shark front. Chippy suggested to Bob that he might like to try a bigger bait near the bottom. We were drifting in around 250 feet of water.

Bob baited up with a big mackerel flapper and using 8oz of lead to keep the bait down set his float 220 feet deep. Bob's float sailed out past the furthest float and the wait recommenced. After a short wait Bob's reel clicked couple of times and the rod tip pulled over out of sync with the movement of the boat.

"Bob, you have got a shark", someone shouted, and with that Bob tightened.

It was obvious that this was a big fish as the shark took a fair bit of line off Bob's fairly tight drag. Chippy asked Bob whether he needed to start the engine ready to follow the shark. Bob said not yet. The rest of us reeled in the other lines to avoid the big shark fouling them.

During the fight Bob on a couple of occasions cavalierly twanged the taut braid like a guitar;  he confessed later that he just needed to rest his arms. Unlike mono which has a certain amount of stretch, on braid everything is felt by the angler.

After half an hour or so the shark surfaced, with the wire trace wrapped around its body. Chippy grabbed the tail and started to unravel the wire, as one more turn would have resulted in the braid rubbing against the shark resulting in a lost fish. It took three people to drag the shark on board through the open gate at the stern of the boat.

The fish was nicely hooked in the scissors, and was quickly unhooked before having its vital measurements taken. The tape measure recorded the length as 98 inches and the girth as 45 inches. Although not exceptionally long,  this fish was exceptionally deep in the body. Chippy suspected this might be Bite's first 200lb blue shark and the charts confirmed a weight of 248lb.

Bob and Chippy were both insistent that the shark be returned, which meant that they could not claim the official British Record. The shark seemed rather dazed and swam around the boat giving us all one last view before swimming off into the depths.

Another small shark of around 40lb completed the day's sport.

Those of us on board were privileged to witness this extraordinary fish. It couldn't have happened to a better bloke, all credit to Bob for returning the fish.

As we sailed back into Penzance it all seemed a little surreal, Bob the Builder had just landed a British Record Blue Shark!

For the record the tackle Bob used was:

Rod: Penn Torque 30lb Class
Reel: Penn Torque 200
Braid: 65lb Whiplash
Trace and Strop (Rubbing Leader): 480lb Wire
Float: Drink Bottle
Lead: 8oz

Here are a couple more shots of the monster.