Penzance situated at the far West of the UK offers a gateway to the rich waters of the Atlantic and the small fleet of charter boats that depart from the port put anglers onto some of the best blue shark fishing available off the UK.
I arrived at Penzance on the eve of what has become an annual trip. The sun was shining on arrival with the bright blue agapanthus and palm trees swaying in a warm summer breeze. Timing a trip with the break of the school holidays was probably not the wisest of moves as the resort was teaming with visitors. I am not a lover of driving longish distances before and after fishing so I had booked a room at a sea front guest house.
First priority was to have a short session after the grey mullet that thrive in the local harbours. Newlyn with its busy fishing harbour always holds a certain appeal with the hustle and bustle of a working port. Float fished cod flesh soon brought plenty of bites that proved frustratingly difficult to connect with. Several good sized mullet were observed swimming close into the harbourside. Positioning my bait close in I was able to watch as they nudged the bait suspiciously. After a couple of hours of enjoyable and frustrating fishing the float sank for the umpteenth time and I felt that delightful connection. A small mullet of around 1lb 8oz was safely netted.
The shark fishing day started early at 4.55am on a sour note. A whats-App ping on the phone brings news that the trip organisers car had gone into limp mode and he would not be joining us.
At 6:45am I arrived at the harbourside ready for the 7.00 am departure. Bruce, Dan and John were all ready and eager for the day ahead. Kieran gave us all a cheery greeting. I asked how the previous days fishing had been and was told it had been a chilled day with seven shark to the boat. The result of a combination of recent weather conditions and big spring tides.
The boat set out bouncing over a calm sea. Pods of dolphins entertained us throughout the trip to the shark grounds leaping from the water often seemingly in synchronized formation. On this occasion my efforts to capture an image failed miserably.
We chatted of fish and fishing as the land slowly faded into obscurity. Far off the land gannets and other sea birds glided as they hunted the ocean.
Eventually the engine note changed as Kieran eased the boat to a halt somewhere far out in the deep blue yonder. Bruce, Dan and I were keen to see the baits go out beneath the optimistically bobbing floats. A glance at John told the story of that the age old curse of the sea. Pale and drained of life it was not to be a good day as mal de mer took its toll on John who had a miserable day.
The aroma of rubby-dubby probably didn’t help as the sacks were filled with a fishy cocktail of fish, bran and oils. Within minutes an oily slick appeared in the wake of the boat. The bright pop bottle floats suspending fresh whiting at varying depths.
We drew the customary straws and I was pleased to get number 1. John had declined an offer of first shark. Baited feathers were sent down the sea bed to catch a steady supply of fresh whiting for bait. After half an hour a shark took the distant bait and I tightened into the first shark of the day. A few minutes later a blue of around 60lb was at the side of the boat the circle hook neatly in the scissors.
A pleasing blue to start the day
A day’s sharking is always exciting with a constant suspense awaiting the scream of a reel or disappearance of a float. In the vast rolling ocean, the mystery of what lurks beneath the surface entrances. As the day unfolds there are short bursts of activity and on two occasions we have double hook ups that give a few anxious moments.
A quick picture in the water
75lb of blues power
In Penzance terms today was a slow day with eleven blues to around 75lb brought to the side of the boat. The days of bringing these fish on board has passed with all fish unhooked quickly at the side of the boat. These beautiful fish look awesome in the clear water and its great to see them swim strongly away after unhooking to disappear into the aqua blue water of the Atlantic.
We lingered for a while hoping for one more shark but as always eventually it’s time to call it a day. We motor back to Penzance glimpsing dolphins once again in the wake of the boat. Gannet’s dive into the water undoubtedly feasting upon mackerel. I always find the vast sky and rolling waters fascinating and so alive.
As we approach the harbour Bite Adventures bounces across the waves on its twin hull and a party of anglers give us a cheery wave.
Penzance is bustling with summer tourists as staycations boom. Were already plotting next year’s voyages to the deeps.