Trolling for porbeagle

Recently, trolling a mounted whole fish bait for porbeagle has been successfully tried off Ireland. This is a standard method for mako in many parts of the world and would probably bring good results in British waters. But its one drawback is that only some four baits can be fished by this method. Its obvious advantage is that a much greater area can be covered. Line must be paid out as soon as the bait is taken so that the fish has a chance of swallowing the bait before the hook is set. No rules can be made about striking. While some sharks will take the bait with a rush, others will play with it before taking it properly, or perhaps leave it alone. In every case, should a strike be missed it is advisable to retrieve the bait slowly with fre-quent stops. This may induce the shark to have a second go, providing always that the hook is not bare.

Similarly, no rules are possible about the type of fight to be ex-pected. In many cases it will not start until the fish has been brought to the side of the boat for the first time. After this anything may hap-pen: long runs away and towards the boat, periods of inactivity or deep soundings. Two species, the mako and the thresher, will make long runs and will often clear the water completely in repeated, spectacular leaps. But the fish will tire slowly and come to the side of the boat. At this stage it may suddenly sound, or stop fighting altogether. On being brought to the surface such fish have often been found to be dead. Once a fish is really tired, then, and only then, should it be brought in-board for a lively shark can do great damage to an angler or a boat. Always fight a shark in the water—not in the boat. Small sharks can easily be lifted into the boat by hand if the freeboard of the boat is not too high.

The flying gaff

The use of flying gaffs, which have detachable handles and where the head itself is attached to or carries a rope, is essential, since most gaffed shark thrash about wildly. It is easier to control them at the end of a rope and there is less chance of injury from the handle which otherwise may break or be moved around erratically by the thrashing fish. A noose passed over the tail of the fish lying at the side of the boat can also be used to tether the fish. This is probably the best method as it always allows the fish to be returned to the water uninjured—an absolute necessity if anglers are to continue to enjoy their sport.