After fishing for blue sharks for well over 20 years, with all my family landing 100lb+ fish, the thought of a porbeagle started to play on my mind. We have shore fished for sharks in Florida every year and biggest to date is an 8ft+ lemon to my eldest son, so we certainly know what it is like to fight a big fish!
Choosing Rok Max and Fast Cat Charters
I found Rok Max whilst searching on the internet, so arranged to meet up with Duncan at the showroom. Upon arrival it was certainly obvious these guys know their stuff. No cheap rubbish here - just good quality equipment and tackle with sound knowledge to back it up. As we all know, any weakness in your gear will result in "floppy line syndrome”, with you extremely fed up and your quarry making a hasty retreat to the depths never to be seen again!
Fishy stories were exchanged and discussed, during which Jerry from Fast Cat Charters was mentioned. Just what I was looking for. A two-day trip was swiftly booked for me, my son and my dad (these guys get full VERY fast indeed). It soon came around and we got rather lucky. After the recent bad weather, the day arrived offering calm weather and clear water – excellent.
Our Porbeagle Shark Fishing Trip
The three of us stayed at Jerry’s place, which was excellent, and better still you certainly won't be late because he bangs on the door! I do a lot of boat fishing from the South Coast with top charter skippers, so I knew immediately that Jerry was a professional. On arrival he was in his garage making new shark traces with top quality components supplied by Rok Max. His attention to detail was second to none, no ‘floppy line syndrome' here I thought!
On the first day Jerry runs us through the drill... "other rods in as fast as you can, harness on, where's the fish is I can manoeuvre the boat accordingly" and then - we're set. Jerry was excited and full of anticipation, which made us even more excited!
"Shark on" - my son was into a 120lb porgy, a spirited fight followed and then it was beside the boat, fantastic, we have had our first one of the trip! Dads turn next, shark in the floats, balloon down, ratchets screaming on the free liner and my Dad's in. This fish jumped clean out of the water, a sight which we will never forget, a 200lb porbeagle in the air! A great fight and she’s beside the boat, dad's beaming, job done I thought... AWESOME.
No sooner had we put the baits back out and BANG, floats down and I'm in. Now the pressures on after shouting at my son and dad not to give any slack... and Jerry's having a right laugh. After 40 minutes fighting, trying to yank me out of the boat and some other hairy moments, I had her under control... a 250lb porgy. Now I’m beaming too - that’s a fish each!
After the early action, a couple of hours pass, so I move the bait slowly back towards the boat and BANG, some toothy critter has other ideas. I release the clutch and give the rod to my son - shark on! We think this one needs testing for drugs - 150 yards of line gone and Jerry's in hot pursuit. My son's getting some gentle persuasion from me "don't muck this up or you will be in the rubby dubby bag". Another 100 yards of line gone and Jerry's reversing to try slow the rapid loss of line. My son sticks with it, works hard and after a solid hour he has her under control and beside the boat. What a fight, the look on my boys face says it all. Another 250lb fish, we are all chuffed to bits. After an incredible first day we decide it's time to go, grab a pint with Jerry and some food, talk plenty of fishy stories and have lots of laughs. Bed time.
We awake to the second day and Jerry is very confident "we will hook up today" he says, my dad adds to it "I think it's safe to say we can expect trouble" - we all laugh. We head out and get the rods out. The floats bob up and down, then away it goes, this happens three times over the next few hours with us failing to connect to a fish. Slow start. We inspect the bait, not a mark, but we know it's a shark because we have seen fins in the floats. Jerry's becoming agitated "they won’t take it properly" he exclaims, "we are doing nothing wrong, they're just being very finicky" he says.
So Jerry winds up the free liner at which point what looked like a massive porgy comes up and turns on the bait, it's quite deep down, so difficult to judge size but we could see it was huge. "Did you see that" he shouts, "must have been 400lb+". Sadly, she did not take the bait, DAMN! We all take a look over the side as 'JAWS' swims underneath the boat - this fish is MASSIVE.
Jerry looked at me and his face said it all... but before he could speak the float was down and it was my dad's turn, who is 76 in June, Jerry screams at me to grab the rod "that fish will kill your dad". My dad steps back, shouts at me to get it boy and I’m the one now being shouted at by my dad. What goes around comes around. 'JAWS' is now safely on and I settle in, clearing my mind and concentrating hard as I know this fish is very big. Jerry looks at me, we have a conversation without speaking, I nod and so does he. All the big fish I have lost over the years flash through my mind as my spool is slowly but purposefully emptied.
Jerry manoeuvres the boat with precision whilst talking to me all the time, wanting to know where she’s heading. For some reason the yellow balloon stayed on for 30 minutes ripping across the surface, disappearing for 5 minutes and then popping back up. Jerry became Hooper and I told him to get another barrel on it, hysterical laughter followed. Enough jokes this is serious stuff! She tried everything, massive power runs, head shaking, rolling, hugging the bottom and up on the surface at range but I was holding my own. After one and half hours we saw the leader "she’s coming" my dad shouted only to then lose 100 yards of line in yet another run, "shut up dad" I said.
Jerry's boat handling was amazing, never allowing the fish to get under the boat, talking to me all the time and egging me on. One hour forty-five minutes pass and we are heading to snags, Jerry was concerned "you have half an hour and we are in big trouble" he exclaimed. There's only so much pressure you can put on and I had been on the limit all the time but I had to gain. I started to feather the spool with my finger, rather dodgy if you don’t let the fish run, but I started to gain and at two hours ten minutes we could finally see the leader again.
What we saw then we will all take to our graves, this fish was bigger than MASSIVE. We had her beside the boat for a few minutes, not really believing what we had hooked, whilst taking as many pictures as we could. I have no doubt that this fish is bigger than the UK record but to kill any fish to claim a record is hopefully something of the past.
After a few minutes she’s back where she belongs, cruising the ocean, what a truly awesome creature. The physical strain is one thing but the mental battle is more draining, I have never concentrated so much whilst fishing. Jerry should take much credit for this catch, he has perfected a system that works and has put in many hours on and off the water to make this catch possible. There was no luck involved on Jerry's part just a lot of effort, planning, skill and the end result is very well earned and deserved. Jerry treats all of his sharks with great care and respects them for what they are a true apex predator.
I thank Jerry the skipper and Duncan from Rok Max for making this unforgettable trip possible for us. For me to catch this fantastic creature with my son and my dad is worth more than any amount of money. We must look after our sport as anglers, it's up to us to lead by example so please treat your catches with respect. The fishing rules for both leisure and commercial fishermen are a mess, we are all fishermen and we must work together to look after a great sustainable resource.
Nearly forgot. Just leaves one question left... who's the daddy?
Fishing report sent in by Rok Max customer Stuart Cross. If you have a fishing report that you'd like to discuss, please email us via our contact form.
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