MAKO! The launch of a Fascinating book

The book Mako! A History of encounters in the British Isles; has been a labour of love for Ian Harbage, Vice Chairman of the Shark Angling Club of Great Britain.

Ian Harbage and his wife Loraine now live in Cornwall

Ian Harbage first visited Looe as a six year old boy in 1975 and like many young children of the time was fascinated by the daily weighing of shark at the SACGB’s weighing station on East Looe Quay. Back then conservation was certainly not on the agenda and the shark mostly blues were slaughtered to be hung up, their carcasses dripping blood as their captors posed proudly for a picture. In 1975 the big movie at the cinema was “Jaws”, a film that portrayed sharks as ferocious killing machines. A young Ian was captivated during that decade and like many of that generation saw captain Quint the shark hunter as a true hero.

Fortunately close to fifty years on shark angling has modified its ways and is now focussed upon conservation with all shark released at the side of the boat. Tackle has been refined to reduce damage to the shark and valuable data is recorded to increase scientific knowledge of shark migrations across vast oceans.

Ian’s book is a fascinating tome that records the history of mako shark captures in the British Isles. Ninety-eight mako shark are recorded in the book a culmination of many years of detective work with many anglers and skippers interviewed their exciting tales retold and captured in this superb book.

Entwined within the tales of these mighty fish are glimpses of salty characters who oozed charisma and loved life upon the sea.

         Ian was encouraged to write the book after meeting the Armishaw family who have been publishing fine angling books for several decades. Lee Armishaw of Watersmeet Publications gave his full backing to Ian to write the book after learning of the vast amount of knowledge Ian had gathered during a fifty year obsession with shark and in particular mako.

The book was appropriately launched at the Heritage Centre in Looe on Sunday, March 24th 2024. Pauline and I joined a room full of readers keen to receive their copies of this long awaited book. Ian took centre stage telling of how he had written the book his passion for the work evident for all to see. He read a fascinating and humorous chapter from the book that had the audience entranced. Ian thanked all members of the Watersmeet Publications team for their encouragement and expertise. Ian also thanked his wife Loraine for her support and patience over several years spent working on the book. Ian also gave thanks many others who had helped with the research.

Ian Harbage, his wife Loraine and the Watersmeet Publications Team

Dr Simon Thomas followed Ian delivering a fascinating and informative talk on the mako shark. The mako is built for speed capable of cruising over long distances in search of its prey with the ability to accelerate in ambush reaching speeds of perhaps 50mph. The trademark appearance of a mako shark is its ability to leap high out of the water. This is a sight that has cemented the mako in the many stories told by anglers who have hooked these magnificent fish.

The mako are found in ocean waters with a temperature above 16 degrees centigrade. Their range extending from New Zealand to North West Scotland. The mako can reach a weight of around 1500lb with a 500lb fish likely to be around 20 years old.

The golden era for mako shark catches in UK waters was between 1951 and 1972. The last Cornish mako was caught in 1980. Mako have been caught off Wales and Ireland in recent years and suspected sightings have been made in recent seasons.

I asked Dr Thomas if he believed climate change could result in a potential increase in mako numbers off the UK. He acknowledged that there is rapid and complex change within marine eco systems that may or may not be linked to climate change. The gulf stream influences our weather, climate and fish migrations its flow rate and global warming are complex and not necessarily one and the same.

Below is a link to Dr Simon Thomas’s talk

After Dr Simon Thomas’s talk Ian met with those who had travelled to purchase copies of the book that had virtually sold out its initial print run. Among those collecting their books was Looe Skipper, Phil Dingle, the son of Alan Dingle a family of legendary Looe Skippers who feature extensively in the book.


Phil Dingle

The Dingle family

Ian Harbage, Phil Dingle and Dr Simon Thomas

All assembled at the event were privileged to share in a moment of celebration as the book records some of Looe’s rich shark fishing history.

Talking shark

Looe has been the home of the Shark Angling Club Of Great Britain since its formation in 1953. The club’s founder was Brigadier J.A.L. Caunter, C.B.E. , M.C,. C.C. who wrote the book Shark Angling In Great Britain, published in 1961. The cover of the Mako! book comprises of a painting by Caunter that portrays a mighty mako leaping with a red sailed Looe shark boat drifting upon the sea reflecting a blue summer sky.

My own angling life started in Looe in the 1960’s when my parents visited Looe each autumn. Like Ian I gazed at the shark brought ashore each evening and dreamt of setting out one day to catch these monsters of the deep. I caught mackerel and garfish from the Banjo pier in those formative years and hold those treasured memories in my mind’s eye.

On the distant horizon on those autumn evenings I saw the rhythmic flashing of the Eddystone lighthouse. As a young angler I yearned to fish those mysterious waters where mighty shark swim. Many years later I returned and set out from Looe to catch blue shark and succeeded in catching a blue in excess of the SACGB qualifying weight. To hook a mighty mako must be one of anglings greatest thrills and to read of such battles at sea feeds the dreams.

A blue shark estimated at 100lb by skipper Dave Bond

The recording of history is important and in Ian’s book he tells history as it was warts and all. This is how it should be for times change and we should not look back and judge previous generations too harshly. Whilst I feel a sense of unease as I look at the pictures of shark carcases hung up on the weighing station I know that if I had been there in those days I too would have taken part for it was as it was in those days.

Looking through the many pictures in Ian’s book I recalled the names of many boats I had seen moored upon the quayside. Paula, Our Daddy and Irene amongst names that brought a fond recollection of times long since passed.

Shark angling has moved on and conservation is top of the agenda. The Pat Smith Data base set up by John McMaster and Dr Simon Thomas is recognised as a valuable source of information in learning about shark migration and populations.


The late Pat Smith pictured in 2018
An assembly of those involved in Looe Sharking history in 2018

Whilst writing this feature I researched the inspiration for Captain Quince in Peter Benchley’s ‘Jaws’ book who I believed to be Frank Mundas. Interestingly Mundas who built his reputation as a shark hunter and set a world record when he caught a 3,427lb great white shark off Montauk in the US. Frank Mundas was to become a passionate shark conservationist. There is perhaps a strange irony in this relationship between hunter and prey. Several years ago I attended a fascinating talk by Paul Boote and Jeremy Wade. During the talk about the mighty mahseer of India a book by Jim Corbett was mentioned. ‘Man-Eaters of Kumoan is an enthralling read that tells of Corbett’s tracking and killing of  numerous tigers. Corbett’s books are enthralling  and paint a fascinating picture of the relationship between hunter and prey in far off days. Like Mundas Jim Corbett became a passionate conservationist working tirelessly for the protection of tigers. His name lives on with the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand  named in his honour.

As climate change impacts upon our oceans the future of shark angling is as it should be, a mystery. Who knows what lurks beneath as the boat drifts in the dubby’s oily slick?


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’! ’ book launch and mako shark talk event:
With the eagerly awaited book launching next week, you are invited to come along to the signing event by the author, Ian Harbage, which will be followed by a presentation and a Q&A on mako sharks by marine biologist, Dr Simon Thomas.
The event will be held at ( ), , at on
It’ll be an open house and anyone is welcome to join. The Heritage Centre cafe will be open for anyone that would like teas, coffees, or perhaps even something a little stronger! While there are not many copies of the book left, a few will made available for the event for anyone still wishing to purchase a copy


Many thanks to our son James Thomas for providing this vivid account of our trip in search of tuna off the Cornish Coast.

Arriving in the harbour of Looe with the sun glistening off the water was a great sign for the days fishing ahead. However, the evidence of recent storms was still prevalent with sea weed scattered across the beach.

A quick visit to the pasty shop to stock up for the day and we were ready to board Sowenna. As we waited on the quayside fellow anglers Jeff Pierce and James Coggan turned up and we were all full of excitement and anticipation of the day ahead.

A rainbow 🌈 hung across the river, again a sign of the inclement and changeable weather that November often brings. We were all feeling fortunate to be heading out to sea with the chance of an encounter with a bluefin tuna.

Climbing down the ladder and stepping aboard we met the team Dan Margetts and John McMaster who were very welcoming and busy preparing the boat and fishing tackle ready to head out to sea. Having never been tuna fishing before I was marvelling at the tall booms that are setup to trail squid lures behind the boat and the sheer size of the reels on the rods that were shining in the sun. As we left the harbour we chatted about how we were going to play the day and I was extremely grateful and a little nervous that I was given the opportunity of the first fish. Thank you to Jeff, James and my Dad for allowing me pole position on the day and the chance of a fish of a lifetime.

We headed out past Looe island with Dan at the helm chatting through the plan for the day. John set about explaining to me how to get ready to play a tuna; harness on and make sure you’re ready at all times as if one takes it’ll all happen in a flash. The main thing is to not give the fish any slack line and keep steady pressure on at all times.

My memories of fish I had lost in the past through bad angling started to resurface in my head; a huge halibut that had broken free in Norway due to a bad knot and a couch’s bream I lost after a clutch malfunction.  I think it is more curiosity of what these fish would have looked like and how much they would have weighed and the missed opportunity that does pain anyone that has lost a significant fish that was the target of an adventure. Sometimes you only have one shot as an opportunity presents itself for a catch and you want to do everything you can to secure the prize.

As an infrequent and novice angler I was feeling the pressure of being given first opportunity of the day and determined if I did get a chance of a tuna that I wouldn’t mess it up due to a lack of concentration.

The hard work and passion of the crew aboard Sowenna was evident and the dedication to be able to target bluefin tuna through the CHART programme and the hours at sea certainly cannot be underestimated. After an hour cruise into rougher waters, we were ready to start fishing. The method involves trolling for the fish with the engine continually rumbling away. The large booms were sent out and the line carefully played out on the reel until 4 rods were all fishing with the lures trailing behind the boat carefully arranged to avoid any tangles. The swell was gently rolling the boat with the odd slightly bigger wave chopping into the side bringing on the feeling of your stomach rising and the occasional clatter of crockery being moved around inside the cabin.

           Stories of previous fishing trips were flowing and Dan decided to put out the shout for a cuppa tea. With that the Rod at the back of the boat bent over and the reel screamed off. John and I rushed to the stern and the reel then stopped screaming momentarily, had it come off? John’s experience kicked in as he wound the reel furiously to take up the slack line. The fish had started swimming towards the boat which is a nerve wracking situation as this could create slack line with a chance of the hook popping out. John regained control and passed the rod and reel over to me. The fish then set off on a charge peeling line off the reel with ease.

I was thinking of the battle and how long it would take to regain this line and I knew that a lot of effort and concentration would be required. The fish turned several times trying to create slack line but every time I managed to stay on top of the fish; I think spurred on by memories of previously lost fish. On this occasion, the tackle was expertly put together by Dan and John so an equipment failure was unlikely meaning it was up to me to stay in the moment and focus on the rod, reel , line and fish.

The next 25 minutes it was like the rest of the world had disappeared and all that mattered for that brief battle was hauling the fish in. Modern day life is so busy it’s rare to find a zen moment where you can truly switch off. I think that’s one of the things that draws people, including me, to amateur sport, whether that is negotiating a tricky section on the mountain bike, batting or bowling in a tight cricket match, felling a large tree or playing in a fish. It’s during the period of truly being in the zone with the adrenaline pumping that I feel most alive.

         After around 20 minutes of slowly gaining using the rolling sea to my advantage and the harness setup to slowly gain back line that the fish had earlier furiously stripped from the reel, the leader was in sight. After several circles around the boat the fish came into view for the first time; a lean magnificent silver bar full of muscle.


A short time later, the fish was secured alongside, a relieved feeling that I hadn’t let myself or the others on the boat down was the overwhelming emotion and a pure admiration for such a huge powerful creature that we were all grateful to witness and have a close encounter with.

The recovery of the fish began with it held steady next to the boat with time for some photos and for the fish to be tagged as part of the CHART program for scientific research which will be used to learn about the distribution of fish and their migration back into British waters.

I opened the door, staring at the fish and wondering how old it might be and how far it may have travelled. As I looked up to the camera one of the infrequent waves with a little more chop rolled in and covered me in icy cold water.

After regaining my composure, a few good photos were captured and we were ready to release the fish back to the depths of the ocean. With a powerful turn the fish swam out of sight. As someone recently said fishing trips are often about the memories that are made and this is certainly one that will live with me. The rest of the day passed by and I was gutted that no-one else had the opportunity to hook up with a tuna and felt a little guilty that I had been given the only chance of the day.


My dad had said before that if he had caught a tuna he would have retired from tuna fishing. Dan joked that he would make sure he was always number 4 so that he had to keep coming back. As we headed back to the harbour the light began to fade and thoughts started to turn to the journey home and the week of work ahead. Another adventure over and more great memories made! Thanks to Jeff, James, Dan, John and Dad for making it such an enjoyable trip; a trip I’ll never forget.

Cornish Reef Fishing

Looe in Cornwall has been a constant throughout my life and a significant stopping off point for fishing adventures for close to sixty years. We were staying in an apartment overlooking the estuary and we delighted in watching the ebbing and flowing of the tides from our vantage point.

Pauline and I had booked the short break to coincide with a boat trip I was joining organised by my friend Keith Armishaw. The trip was to be a reef fishing trip giving the chance of a wide variety of species.

A strong North Westerly wind had been blowing throughout the week making conditions difficult for trips to fishing grounds further off the coast. Keith had organised a week’s fishing that included reef fishing, Shark and tuna fishing. I was heading out on the Thursday and Pauline and I met up with members of the fishing entourage and their families in the  ‘Old Salutation Inn’. This old Inn situated in the heart of East Looe has a wealth of old shark and fishing images upon its walls. Old black and white portraits of huge shark hanging at the weigh station beside their proud captors. Fortunately, such slaughter is now a thing of the past as a more enlightened generation now return all shark alive in the hope that a thriving sport fishery can be maintained for future generations.

 Fishing was of course high on the agenda as we dined and it appeared that the days shark fishing had been challenging with a very rough sea making conditions difficult for even seasoned anglers. A good shark had been brought boat-side and was estimated at 95lb. A qualifier for the Shark Angling Club of Great Britain that has its headquarters in Looe.


Optimism for the reef fishing day was high and with fishing likely to be on reefs closer to the coast there would be a degree of shelter from the prevailing North West wind.

I arrived quayside at 8:00 and met with fellow anglers for the day. Keith Armishaw, Dom Garnett, Mark Everard, Reg Talbot, Peter Evans, Nick Roberts and Tony Christou. Whilst waiting we chatted to the film crew who were busy filming a spin off drama of ‘Death In Paradise’. It was enlightening to see how many technicians and support were involved in such a production that undoubtedly brings significant income into the town.

            We were fishing from Dan Margetts Sowenna

            The boat departed Looe harbour and passed the unique Banjo Pier where I had started my lifelong angling journey close to sixty years ago. I always relish the trip out to the fishing grounds with the splendour of the Cornish coast  as a magnificent back drop. We passed the historic Looe Island that provides shelter for Looe and its foreshore.

            Shortly after passing the Island, we stopped to catch fresh mackerel for the days bait. It was a joy to find them in abundance. Strings full of writhing mackerel were swung on board to be unhooked by a busy crew.

            After catching a good supply of bait, we set off for a reef a couple of miles off the coast. As the boat bounced over the waves I caught sight of gannets diving in a feeding frenzy and thrilled at the sight of a tuna bursting out of the sea in a flurry of spray.

            On arriving at the reef Dan throttled back and set up a drift. A variety of tackles and baits were employed. Live mackerel on long flowing traces, baited feathers and slow jig lures.

            Within moments mackerel and scad were swung aboard along with whiting and pouting. Larger specimens proved elusive with no bass or pollock succumbing to the bigger baits and lures. After one more short drift Dan positioned the boat and lowered the anchor. The engine was cut and it was good to bob around in the lively sea as we lowered our baits. I elected to start off using small strips of squid on size 6 Chinu Sakuma hooks and fluorocarbon hook lengths. Within seconds of the bait hitting the bottom the light rods tip rattled and I reeled in a small pouting and small male cuckoo wrasse. Second drop and a better rattle on the rod tip resulted in a small red bream one of five i went on to land up to around 1lb. The last time I had caught red bream was on a reef fishing trip in the mid-seventies when they were a common catch. The species had declined with very few caught for several decades. A recent increase in numbers caught is encouraging. A handsome female cuckoo wrasse of close to a pound was also tempted with the small bait tactic.

            Mark Everard fishing closer to the cabin also tempted a brace of red bream his first of the species. Mark was also delighted to catch a huge scad that would probably have tipped the scales close to 2lb.

            The sight of bent rods around the boat prompted me to send down a larger bait. A mackerel flapper on a 10/0 Sakuma Manta was lowered to the sea bed and was soon devoured by a conger of around 10lb. Conger sport continued and I watched my fellow anglers rods bending in a typical scene of traditional deep sea boat fishing.

            For the following hour or two conger, wrasse, scad and pouting were caught as regular teas and coffees were delivered by Dan and his helpful deckhand.

Dom Garnett with a colourful cuckoo wrasse

            As the day drifted past Dan discussed an option to try a new mark close inshore where he had received reports of specimen small eyed ray. Ray are not a common feature of boat catches off this part of Cornwall and with a brisk North West Wind buffeting the boat the sheltered waters close to the coast seemed worth a try.

            Dan set off and we were soon anchoring over clean ground just a few hundred yards offshore. It was good to survey the rocky shoreline from the boat places I had visited on coastal walks with Pauline on numerous occasions over the years. The area undoubtedly had huge shore fishing potential and I couldn’t help formulating plans to one day visit and fish. There are so many places to cast a line in this world and so little time!

            I tried small baits first on my light rod hoping to tempt something different. Whilst I like catching small eyed ray they are abundant up off the Somerset coast and if I want to catch them I can go to Minehead. A mackerel seized my small squid strip and was swung aboard and added to the bait store.

            On the opposite side of the boat Keith Armishaws rod took on an impressive curve as something large pulled back on the end of the line. We all watched in anticipation as the battle ebbed and flowed. The head of a large conger estimated at between 30lb and 40lb appeared and writhed at the side of the boat. I suggested we get a picture but the trace failed as Dan tried to pull the fish through the gate. This counted of course as the trace had been touched.

            Dan is a very keen skipper and works hard to try and find fish willing to experiment to build on his already extensive experience. When it became clear that sport was slow close inshore it was back out to drift the reefs once more. Sport soon resumed with wrasse, mackerel, pouting and scad.

            Dan suggested we try one more mark on the way back to Looe. By now it was late in the day and the afternoon sun illuminated  Looe Island. Gannett’s dived into the calming waters. A short drift brought a few mackerel and  a large pouting succumbed to my slow jig.

            Sowenna bounced back towards Looe and we chatted about the day and past and future trips. Seagulls wheeled and turned behind the boat as a few fish were filleted for the table. The ride home after a day’s fishing as the light fades is something I always savour as I gaze back into the boats wake.

            The tide was well in as we chugged into Looe and its familiar lively harbour.

            I walked back towards the car park with Dom and Mark chatting about our trip. All three of us reflected upon an enjoyable day but all conceded that a dabble after large gobies with LRF tackle had perhaps been the highlight of the trip a chance perhaps to rekindle a connection to childhood adventures beside the sea.

Moments of reflection and lost spirits carried upon a flooding tide.

There is something reassuring about the perpetual ebbing and flowing of the tide. Watching the cool swirling waters as the light faded memories flooded in with the tide . I had started fishing in saltwater over fifty years ago whilst on holiday with my parents in this Cornish seaside town of Looe.

Over the years we have been drawn back many times. We had walked out onto the Banjo pier and It was pleasing to have glimpsed the flashing flanks of grey mullet in the clear water.

I  looked out at the horizon where I imagined the tuna shoals that have recently migrated into the waters off Cornwall potentially opening the dawning of a new age of recreational catch and release fishing.

I had looked out from this pier as a teenager and caught the flickering light of the Eddystone Light far out in the channel. I had since fished the Eddystone reef for pollock and caught blue shark many miles offshore.

Fifty years ago, I started on an angling journey that has taken me to many locations yet those childhood memories linger. An orange tipped float beneath harbour lights disappearing pleasingly as small pollack seized the strips of mackerel. Sharing the joys of catching crabs with our son James sat on the harbours edge as Pauline grabbed at his coat tails fearful that he would slip into the water.

Moments of reflection and lost spirits carried upon a flooding tide.


The minds eye stores many thousands of images some of which lie dormant whilst others linger on the surface never fading completely. As a teenager I fished from the Banjo Pier at Looe in Cornwall a place I have revisited on numerous occasions since those formative angling days in the early to mid seventies. Strange how certain things stick in the mind, I just checked out the year Carl Douglas released Kung Fu Fighting. For some reason I remember this playing in the amusement arcade in Looe all those years ago in 1974. I was thirteen and by then fishing at Looe with the local lads. ( I never actually liked the song but it stuck in the mind!)

My father had introduced me to sea angling during our annual holiday to Looe which almost always fell during the last week of September and first week of October. Then as now fishing was prohibited from the Banjo until October 1st. prior to 1974 I had fished with my parents and it was garfish, mackerel and Pollock that would drag a brightly coloured sea float beneath the surface. The garfish would toy with the bait causing the float to dither before sliding beneath the surface or lying flat as the garfish swam up with the bait. I probably caught my first fish from Looe when I was seven or eight.

Those childhood and teenage days are long gone, the essence of those days remain etched in that marvelous minds eye. Strange to say that whilst I have revisited the Banjo on many occasions with Pauline watching the ebbing and flowing of the tide, the coming and going of boats and the vast seascape I had not taken a rod in hand at the venue since my last holiday with my parents back in around 1976/7. This was I guess partially due to timing as it was generally out of bounds due to it being summertime.

I remember clearly how I had fished for grey mullet on the ebbing tide in the eddy formed as the estuary meets the open sea beside the old banjo. When discussing a trip to Looe with the Combe Martin Sea Angling Club where better to fish for mullet than my old haunt? My connection with Looe had resulted in a long-term friendship on Facebook with fellow angler Matt Pengelly.  Matt is a fanatical sea angler who has fished Looe all his life. I have exchanged stories of Looe with Matt on many occasions and over the years he has freely shared a vast amount of information to which I owe him a big thank you.

As regards to the Looe mullet Matt confirmed my thoughts in that several generations of mullet later little has changed. Hence close to fifty years after catching my first sea fish I find myself on the banjo pier rod in hand along with our son James and five other members of the CMSAC mulleteers.

Quiver tips and floats are employed and mullet are caught up to around three pound.

I drop my orange tipped float into the ebbing flow. After drifting a few yards it dips slowly beneath those familiar clear waters. I lift the rod in expectation and feel a familiar gyrating motion transmitted through the line. I swing the garfish up into my hand, “Look a swordfish”, cries out a young child.  I remember such comments being made all those years ago. The green scales stick to my hands and that distinctive small of fresh garfish triggers childhood memories.

I chat with Matt who has joined us on the Banjo for a while and he tells me of plans to redevelop Looe and its Harbour. I am saddened to hear of these plans to bring prosperity to this old Cornish town. The pleasures of Looe are simple and special and locked in my minds eye and I am sure in many others who have trod a similar path.

Looking back, I have a wealth of memories relating to fishing and the places it has taken me to. I also have memories of Ilfracombe when it had a pier and how the removal of that pier has contributed to the loss of a community. I Remember how on cold winter nights we would gather on the pier safe above surging waters; ever hopeful. Sadly I feel the essence of angling holds no tangible value to planners and councilors. The social benefits are overlooked in the search for marinas and visions of splendor.

Where lies the value in a garfish and a disappearing float?




A room full of memories – Looe Sharking

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The Cornish town of Looe has a rich history as a fishing port and during the 1940’s and 1950’s the sport of shark fishing in the UK became popular primarily among the wealthy members of British Society or the upper classes. The book, “Shark Angling In Great Britain” by Brigadier J.A.L Caunter documents this early period and is a fascinating read.


My own connection with Looe stems from annual holidays with my parents during the late sixties and seventies. To a large extent this was where my lifelong passion for angling was formulated with many happy hours spent float-fishing for mackerel, garfish and grey mullet.

Each evening the shark fishing boats would return to port with their catches. Back then in less enlightened times virtually all shark were slaughtered and brought back to the weighing station of the Shark Angling Club of Great Britain where their bloated carcasses were hauled aloft in front of masses of tourists. As a young boy I gazed in awe and dreamt of days when I could set sail to do battle with these beasts of the deep.

Looking back the wanton slaughter was misguided and undoubtedly contributed to a steep decline in numbers. Fortunately, all shark caught today are carefully released and their numbers are increasing once again. Shark fishing is an important part of Looe’s history and the recreational fishery is vitally important in supporting Looe as a fishing port as commercial fishing declines due to competition from larger ports and other factors.

The Old Sardine Factory on West Looe harbour front recently opened as a heritage centre and Restaurant. The centre hosts regular events and recently held an evening to bring together members of the shark fishing community and share memories in a memory café style event.

Seeing the advert on their Facebook page I could not resist attending and took the opportunity to have a one night break in my childhood haunt with my wife Pauline. I am so glad we made the effort for we were privileged to meet anglers and skippers from an earlier era. I am sure many memories and friendships were rekindled on that summer night. The vast array of black and white photos on display told of a bygone age that was full of larger than life characters.

The shark fishing of that era was seen as adventure on the high seas. It would be wrong to condemn the practice of those days for many believed that the seas fish stocks were inexhaustible. Today we know this is not true and methods and practice have changed to ensure that these splendid fish can be released after being brought to the boat. Anglers share many of the conservationists concerns regarding the oceans and should work in harmony to ensure both the survival of the shark and the shark angler.

One of the nights highlights was to meet Pat Smith aged 95 who travelled to the event from Leicester and still radiated enthusiasm as she recalled those golden days when she caught a huge porbeagle of 369lb.

Much of the credit for the evening goes to Rachel Bond, Dave Clarke and John McMaster.

Below is the short introduction to the event as delivered by Rachel on the night.Many thanks to Rachel for allowing me to reproduce the manuscript on these pages.

Living timeline – Written by John McMaster and Rachel Bond 

Welcome to the Old Sardine Factory Heritage Centre and welcome to our Sharking Legends event.

This event is all about catching up with old friends, meeting people who you thought you might never meet and sharing stories, pictures and other Sharky stuff.

I already know that many of you are well known to each other but by way of introduction and also to give us an opportunity to thank you all let me just mention a few names.

Sharking is littered with successful lady anglers so its tremendous to be able to welcome Pat Smith who has come all the way from Leicester to be with us tonight. Pat is the last surviving Ladies British record holder for shark which she holds for a magnificent 369lbs Porbeagle, caught out of Looe in 1970.  Pat is one of an elite group of lady anglers, many who like her have held and some still hold British and World records. Names like Hetty Eathorne, Patsy McKim, and Joyce Yallop to name only a few. No ladies list would be complete without our own Looe ladies legend, Daphne Case. Sadly, these ladies are no longer with us but I am pleased to say that Judi Berry, Daphne Cases daughter is with us tonight and has brought along her mothers scrap book which you must find the time to have a look at this evening. 

It’s also great to have Jackie Gould with us tonight who has brought along some of her pictures and I am sure some stories to share with us as well.

Sharking was not just about skippers and anglers as it also brought revenue to many businesses as well. Here in Looe names like the Salutation Inn, the Hannafore Point Hotel, the Portbyhan and the Jolly Sailor and many more welcomed anglers and their families to Looe.  One of the most influential of those businesses was of course Jack Bray & Son. In the early days the cost of sharking fishing tackle put it beyond the reach of many. By hiring fishing tackle for the day, Jack made the sport accessible to many people, which helped tremendously with the growth of the sport and the SACGB.  Jack Brays was a weigh centre and sharking trips could also be arranged via the shop and while sadly, Martin has been unable to make it tonight, Martin has an invaluable wealth of knowledge of the sports history.

And last but certainly not least we have our skippers line up which I can best describe as a, living timeline, with us tonight.


We have Alan Dingle who skippered the Lady Betty when Pat caught her record Porbeagle and when Joyce Yallop caught her record Mako. We have John Kitto, and Bill Cowan from Polperro. We have Ernie Curtis and Mally Toms, Ian King from Lyme, Richard Butters, Paul Greenwood and Graham Hannford from Plymouth.

No sharking skipper gathering would be complete without mentioning some of those legendary characters who are no longer with us but the memories of them won’t ever leave us. Skippers like Ivan Chaston, Bonzo, Edgar Williams, Bill and Jack Butters, Bert Dingle Robin Vinnicome, Phil Gould and some many many more.

Then of course we have the “younger skippers”!! Well, I had to call them that to get them to come. We have Murray Collings, Pete Davis, Dave Bond, Phil Dingle, Phil Curtis, Dan Margetts  xxxxxxxx

I would very much like a group photograph of all of you at some point this evening and if any of you would like a copy let me know and I will arrange to send you one.

I would also like to say a couple of last thank yous, firstly to the Shark Club for their assistance in curating this exhibition and loaning us some fascinating items, and secondly to John Mac, John  has been my go to shark expert, exhibition and speech writing consultant, photo mounting expert, coffee provider, and general fountain of all knowledge and has been a huge support to me throughout the lead up to this exhibition, so thank you.

We aim to close the event around 8pm but in the meantime we have cider at the bar, and please do say hello to our volunteers with cameras, who will be trying to capture the event and your wonderful memories and stories for us.

This heritage centre runs on donations, so anything you can give towards us being able to put on events like these would be hugely appreciated. Dave Bond guaranteed me that he and the other skippers would whack a tenner in each…

Finally thanks very much for all your input and I hope you enjoy the event.

Below are a few photos I captured on the night with the kind permission of those displaying the images.