Once in a lifetime – Truly epic day – By Dan Welch

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Many thanks to Daniel Welch for sending this superb report on a truly epic days fishing.
Fishing is so much more than just catching a fish. It’s about the preparation, anticipation, the journey, the wildlife and the environment that surrounds you. It doesn’t matter how well prepared you are you never know what the result will be. Little did we know this trip was going to be one of those really special unforgettable ones.
Last Sunday the weather and tides were just right to go on the hunt for what some one say is one of the UKs ultimate fish, the porbeagle shark!
The alarm was set for 03:30 and we left harbour on high tide in the dark, the lights of the town and faded into the distance as we steamed out. As the first glimpses of daylight arrived the silhouette of the land began to appear and the surface of the sea shimmered, the conditions looked promising. We arrived at the chosen location a couple hours later.
3 shark rods were set at various depths all rigged with barbless circle hooks suspended beneath brightly coloured bottles. There were a lot of dolphins and a number of whales in the area surely this was a good sign. After a short wait the middle float disappeared and we hooked into the first shark of the day it was by no means big by porbeagle standards but a nice shark around a 100lb photos were taken and the fish return. We had a few more takes over the next couple hours and landed another two sharks and lost one and saw others cruising around beneath the boat in the crystal clear water.
Whilst fighting one shark there was a sudden commotion about 20m from the boat it was a shoal of skip jack or bonito sized tuna jumping clean out the water hitting bait fish, we could not believe our eyes. I frantically grabbed a lure rod and cast at them hoping one would grab the lure. Within a blink of an eye they vanished back into the depths and my focus returned to landing the shark. We were elated not only had we landed some of our target species we had also seen and come close to getting a tuna. Our expectations for the day had already been surpassed.
As low water approached fishing slowed down. We had been hearing load splashes and a commotion long way from the boat. As time past these got closure until we could actually see what was going on, it was huge feeding frenzies. The feeding frenzies got closer and closer until they were just a mile or two from us at this point we had to go and investigate. We steamed out at full speed to get out to the feeding frenzy before it moved again. When we arrived we came across an incredible site of multiple whales, dolphins, hundreds of sea birds, sharks and what we believed tuna feeding. Neither of us had seen anything like this before. We cast lures into the feeding frenzies and put whole mackerel baits in. Ross suddenly hooked something on a lure only for it to be ripped off the hook we then saw another shark beneath the boat and then the rod I was holding which had a whole mackerel bait was taken and it ran off at speed, it turned out to be a hard fighting male porbeagle. By the time I landed the shark the feeding frenzy had gone quite and we were left with a couple dolphins and whales around the boat and slick smooth water created by the fish oils released during the frenzy. We were so privileged to witness this off our own coast line and chances are it’s a once in a life time experience. We are just glad we managed to capture some photos and film to share without preconditions friends and family.
We hung around a bit longer but had no more bites so decided to worked our way back home fishing wrecks and reefs on the way back. We caught a number of bass and even a John Dory doing this.
In total we landed 4 sharks and lost one, the largest shark was estimated at 150lb. An incredible and almost unbelievable day! Ross summed it up saying “you don’t normally hear epic and fishing in the same sentence but today was truly and epic day”.

Reel Deal Sport off Ilfracombe

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Anglers have enjoyed some superb sport off Ilfracombe aboard Reel Deal with Skipper Dan Hawkins. Tope fishing as at times been hectic with a few larger predators showing including blue shark to 90lb plus and a some chunky porbeagle. One large porbeagle even enjoying a chunk of fresh bass for dinner! The anglers have also enjoyed frequent glimpse of dolphins and whale in the deeps.

Shark Handling Best Practice

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As we enter the Spring and summer season it seems a good time to promote good practice when handling members of the shark family. Please take note of these guidelines handle all fish with respect and consideration. I will take this into account when publishing images on this site so please follow the above when trying to capture those memories.

Spectacular Shark Fishing off North Devon

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Dan Hawkin’s has been taking anglers to fishing grounds far off the North Devon coast on his boat Reel Deal where they have made some spectacular catches of shark not seen off North Devon since the 1970’s. The party of anglers set a boat record of 28 blue shark up to 97lb on the first day. On the second day of their charter  Jason Heenan boated a superb blue shark of 133lb.

The anglers boated 38 shark over the two days with Ammo Baits Chum attracting the fish and Penn Rods and reels from High Street tackle taming the fish.

The fishing is strictly catch and release with circle hooks ensuring that the majority of shark are hooked in the jaws where hooks can be easily removed. Fortunately the days of slaughtering these beautiful fish has been consigned to the history books where such practices belong.

Dan has enjoyed considerable success over past couple of years with anglers boating huge porbeagle shark, a thresher shark and blue shark with catches unheard of in recent years. The success has come on the back of significant investment and effort with the will to travel long distances with no guarantee of success. The future is exciting and expect Dan’s diary to be filling already with booking for next year.

BIG BLUE ON REEL DEAL

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Shane Tandy boated a fine blue shark of 114lb whilst fishing on board Reel Deal. This was one of thirteen shark caught during a trip to the offshore marks out of Ilfracombe.

Dan Hawkins wrote earlier “with the season coming to a close down Ilfracombe we have some last chance availability for the sharks then it’s back up channel for the cod www.reeldealcharters.uk book now to avoid disappointment I’ll be running local trips and trips right up to the English and welsh grounds”

REEL DEAL STRIKES INTO SHARK

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Dan Hawkins has ventured to deep waters off the North Devon coast taking advantage of the settled weather to put anglers amongst both blue and porbeagle shark. Over three days eleven porbeagle shark and nine blue shark were tempted using Ammo chum in combination with Ammo mackerel hook baits. The fish were in the 80lb to 90lb range.

The catches have stirred interest from the national press who will undoubtedly be sensationalizing  the catches of shark off the North Devon coast. This is however nothing new as shark have always frequented the the area but it takes a pioneering skipper to rediscover them and make the effort. All of the shark are released alive after photographing. Circle hooks are used to reduce any danger of deep hooking and the fish handled for a minimal period with large fish unhooked at the side of the boat.

Shark Catch off Ilfracombe

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“What a absolutely brilliant day!!” Said Toby Basset after an amazing days fishing aboard Dan Hawkins Reel Deal..”off we set at 6am and by 8.30am we were fishing in the Celtic deeps sharks rod went in and i was first up within an hour first fish was hooked! A cracking beagle of 80lb+ sadly shook the hook. The party hooked a fish a fish every 20 minutes with the anglers landing two shark each a mix of beagles and blues! Biggest blue went to 71lb the skipper even landed a tidy little beagle as we brought the lines in to go home! Ten shark landed 3 dropped what a day!! Even caught a new species of a little grey gurnard!”