LIVING THE DREAM

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I have fond memories of childhood days spent in the Cornish fishing town of Looe in Cornwall for it was there that my obsession with angling began. We went there for our family holiday each autumn and I caught small Pollock, mackerel and garfish float fishing from the Banjo Pier. As I grew older I caught mullet and the occasional bass and wrasse.
There was at this time another factor that held my attention and filled me with fascination. Each evening the boats would return from their day at sea. Charter boats with catches of Pollock, whiting, ling and conger from a day ‘Deep Sea Fishing’. Commercial boats with all manner of fish to admire as they were boxed up on ice ready for distribution, but top of the agenda for me was the sight of the shark being brought in by the shark anglers to be weighed in at the headquarters of the ‘Shark Angling Club of Great Britain’. These huge fish filled me with awe as they were hoisted aloft blood dripping from their gills and wounds. After putting a weight to the carcass the bodies were carted unceremoniously away to be used I assume as fertilizer. The men who worked there were hard working macho characters, their skin sun burnt and wrinkled like old leather after years of exposure to sea air and sunshine.

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I imagined what it would be like to venture far out to sea beyond the horizon in search of these mighty fish. Those days were the ending of an era. Days when many believed the oceans bountiful fish stocks to be endless; that god provided an endless inexhaustible harvest for mankind.
Looking back now the slaughter of these magnificent creatures for a trophy shot at the weighing station was a disgusting waste,typical of mankind’s destructive ethos, the same ignorance that had wiped the dodo and many other creatures from this magnificent planet. But it is  wrong to judge those earlier generations who had a different mindset to today built upon the values of a society at the time.
Close to fifty years on I have lived that boyhood dream but without the senseless slaughter. Today blue shark are caught, admired and released to continue there nomadic existence wondering the oceans.
I had caught porbeagle shark off the North Cornish coast and on one occasion fished for blue shark off Looe without success. This was the third August James and I had travelled to Penzance to fish aboard the renowned Charter Boat, ‘Bite Adventures’ skippered by respected shark expert Robin Chapman ‘Chippy’. The two previous years we had been beaten by the weather but this year it was systems go.
Chippy has brought a degree of finesse to the shark angling world providing anglers with quality balanced tackle from his sponsors “Fin-Nor”. None of the old style broom handles and fifty pound class plus gear used in the olden days. This gear enables the anglers to do battle, enjoy it savouring the power and speed of the blue shark.
Five of us set out from Penzance, on an early August Sunday. Nick Hart, Pete Gregory, Chris Lambert, My son James and I. After stopping off to fill the bait box with fresh mackerel in the bay it was time to open the throttle and head for the horizon.
The twin hulled catamaran bounced over the lively sea, we clung on grimly. I heard someone comment; “This supposed to be fun??” James took it in his stride likening it to an exhilarating theme park ride. I was just pleased to be heading out to fulfill a child hood dream.
Eventually we arrived having found water clarity to Chippy,s satisfaction. Lots were drawn from 1 to 5; I drew number 1! James number 5. I offered to swap with him but he was content to learn as he watched the other more experience anglers do battle. The top came off the rubby-dubby tub and an aroma drifted through the air that undoubtedly contributed to one member of the parties’ bout of sea sickness.

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Out went the baits; fresh mackerel flappers on 14/0 circle hooks suspended at various depths beneath brightly colored pop bottles. The oily slick from the dubby bags spread out in the wake of the drifting boat. Storm petrol’s swooped low over the sea, fulmars bobbed on the water. I hummed silently to myself a song I remembered from my childhood days.
So we sailed up to the sun
Till we found the sea of green
And we lived beneath the waves
In our yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine
We all live in a yellow submarine
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine

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The daydream was soon interrupted when the bottle plunged beneath the waves and chippy thrust the rod into my hands. The rod took a pleasing curve; the reel sang its song and the battle commenced. The shark eventually came to the boat and I was thrilled to pose with it for a quick photo before watching it glide majestically away in the clear water.

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Sweeter than my own triumph was to see James playing his first shark; rod bending, reel singing, arm aching and eventual triumph holding the fish aloft with me at the tail end.

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We went on to share 35 shark, seven each averaging 50lb to 60lb. My biggest estimated at 70lb, James biggest at 85lb and the biggest of the day to Chris Lambert at around 100lb.

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The whole day was very much a team effort lead by Chippy who both found the fish and hooked the fish.
The day goes down as one of life’s best the fulfillment of a childhood dream one off the bucket list I guess. Though I will of course be back to catch that 100lb plus fish and to once again float in anticipation upon a sea of green beneath a sky of blue.

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About piscator2

An all-round angler I fish for fun and enjoy sharing my experiences and adventures at the waters edge. Each week I write a column for the North Devon Journal and occasional articles for various publications.
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1 Response to LIVING THE DREAM

  1. Pete Austin says:

    Brilliant story mate.

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