I you have a strong stomach, and a pocketful of hard-earned or even unearned dough, you can go big game fishing without a minute of previous experience.
All you have to do is go to a place like Looe where they specialise in it and make a living at it, and press your money into the horny hand of one of the very good professional skippers. For about £100 he will take you out to sea in his reliable boat, provide the tackle and the bait, set up the tackle and bait the hook, get the bait into the water, and tell you when you’ve got a shark on. Then he will instruct you how to play it, will gaff it and haul it aboard and dispatch it, taking all the risk and doing all the work, and finally he will fetch the photographer to take a picture of you with it when you get back to the quay. What could be simpler?
But I think you can leave big game fishing until you have done a bit of smaller game fishing. Please yourself, though.
Nor have I gone into the question of all those splendid big fish you may catch, in certain circumstances. Skate may be caught from the shore, or a boat, on the bottom; so may the rays, so may tope, of course, which is our smallest shark but still a sizeable hunk of fish. These things come later, I fancy.
Nor have I even mentioned a vast variety of fish which you may well hook—you may hook them first time out! These are fish which few people angle for of set purpose. Some of them are very odd indeed. You may find yourself connected to silly little pout or pouting, fierce but un-likeable wrasse, dogfish, smooth hound, gurnards, monkfish, John Dory, the rock-loving ling, the poisonous weever; or even, if you are very lucky, the desirable turbot, brill or megrim. Never mind. I’ve told you what I know about the most popular fish which are angled for of set purpose, and well worth angling for. You will assuredly catch some of the sorts which you don’t want, and if your luck holds you will also catch uncommon but highly desirable fish without even trying, without even knowing they were there.
This is the glory and benediction of the sea. You ‘cast your bread upon the waters’, and you never really know, not for sure, what is out there waiting, what it is that has taken your bait or lure. Until you see it. The infinite ocean is inexhaustible in its capacity for surprising us. It makes a man humble, but self-reliant; willing to be surprised, capable of wonder, but ever adventuring his lure into the unfathomable sea with new optimism, new hope.