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Sharking aboard Mystique II out of Looe - 23/08/16

I've never caught a shark in UK waters (excl tope, spurdogs etc) so when Sandy and I visited Looe a few weeks ago I took the opportunity to book a trip for Blue Shark aboard the Mystique II.  I was joined on the day by fishing buddies Reg, Graham and Jonathan.

We arrived on the quay at 8.30 setting out promptly. The first stop not too far out was to catch a few mackerel for fresh bait on the way out to the sharking area. Initially the sea was rough but Dave, the skipper, said it would get easier farther out and as usual, skippers know what they are talking about. When we reached our chosen area about 20 miles out Dave, the skipper, put out the chum and then set about showing us how to bait, set the floats etc on the first rod which was then set out. As he got the second one ready to bait, the first rod started to run and the click of the check sounded. We thought something was wrong, not expecting a take that fast.  Dave told Jonathan that it was a fish and he duly caught a small blue shark, unbelievable!

We each had a rod and once one was caught, the angler then left his rod for the others establishing a rota and trying to ensure we all caught a fish. In the quiet spells between runs we fished with feathers over the side catching mostly whiting and a few more mackerel to keep the bait stock up.

Graham was next with a better fish, then I had another smallish one of around 25lbs and finally Reg got his first shark.

On the next round of the rota, Jonathan caught another baby shark, Graham had another, I had a decent fish of about 55lbs then Reg had another before finally Jonathan had a much better fish.  As we were about to pack up, Graham had another male fish.

In all we ended up with 10 blue shark; nothing huge, but far more than we hoped for. As well as a bag or mackerel and whiting with an odd gurnard and scad.

Another highlight of the trip was watching a sunfish circling the boat following the seagulls. It then lay flat on the surface allowing the gulls to pick the parasites from his skin before swimming away. It was a fascinating interlude of about 15 minutes. I have seen one off Ilfracombe before, but didn’t know of this practice which Dave told us to watch out for. You can just see the dorsal fin to the left of the gulls in the picture below.

We also enjoyed watching the agility of a storm petrel fling around the boat.

It was one of those days when things go absolutely right including the weather. A great day out with friends, all catching fish and seeing interesting sights at sea too. Thanks to Dave the skipper who obviously knew what he was doing and joined in the banter that is all part of the day out.

We got back at 6.30 in time for fish and chips and a cold beer, a great way to end the day.

The great news is since the finning was addressed (commercially cutting the fins off sharks for shark fin soup and chucking the body alive over the side), the numbers have risen. Several years ago they landed just over 80 sharks at Looe in the year. The combined total from the Looe boats yesterday was 42 in a day. I guess as they go grow bigger the sport will get even better.

I’m planning next year already.