I took up sea fishing in 2007 when Mike and I first went to the south shore of England to fish from the shore, looking for sharks. I'll never forget that day. Mike set up my rods, smiled at me knowingly and told me I would know if I had a bite. After six hours of looking at the tips and the beautiful scenery the current changed, now nearly still. My reel roared and the fish started to run with a mackerel in its mouth. I rushed to the rods and the rest happened automatically. The hook was set quickly and then… nothing. I thought I had lost it and I started to reel my rig in. Suddenly, I felt resistance and the braided line started disappearing off my reel. I wasn’t really ready for what the shark had in store for me and I finally lost the fish near the surface. Despite the fact that I only saw my first shark from a distance this experience stayed with me and made me fall in love with sea fishing. The incredible struggle, which supplied me with adrenaline and endorphins was addictive and the years since have been spent looking for different shrks in the Atlantic Ocean.
Nursehounds (Scyliorhinus stellaris in latin) have a massive, disproportionate head. A rounded mouth with oval-shaped eyes and many small teeth. It’s the perfect weapon against crabs and fish living in calm areas, especially over rocky bottom. It can be found in areas from the Northern Atlantic, Scotland and Southern Norway all the way to Africa. The “Panther” can get as long as 170 cm but such huge specimen are rare. I consider any nursehound over a meter and weighing more than 5 kg to be a proper catch. Their dark grey (brown-grey) or brown-red backs are covered in brown spots surrounded by round black spots - hence the nickname “the Panther”.
The Atlantic is a hard place to catch sharks. All sharks prey on other fish so you can rarely fish selectively. There is a lot of competition for food with other species that live in the same areas like stingrays, which are happy to bite on a mackerel.
I usually use a whole mackerel as a lure. If it’s especially big, over 60 cm, I use half. The rig for sharks is very simple - a 60cm leader made of 150lb (80kg) line, a single rounded hook size 6 and a braided line (100lb/50kg minimum). I use the Mikado SCR Sea Heavy Picker 210cm rod with a casting weight of up to 400g combined with a Mikado Ace Hunter 8008 reel. It’s a perfectly balanced set and the reel fits the seat perfectly. The rod is not too long which is good for fishing from a boat, as there is never enough space. The rod works in a wa that makes bites visible even n ocean waves, which is a huge plus. It makes it possible to see even the smallest of bites and those happen even with sharks. My set can seem a bit light but believe me, I once saw an angler successfully haul a 20kg shark on an LRF. You can go heavy and choose a short, sure fight that will most probably end is success of you can go light and make your haul just a bit more fun.
I’ve gone on many incredible trips in my sea fishing career. One happened just recently. On that day the sharks only had our mackerels to eat as there were no coming in naturally in the location I chose. Every time I had gone to that spot before I managed to get a Panther but I certainly wasn’t expecting what happened next. I decided to anchor my boat on a reef and fish in 50ft (15m) deep water with a 9.5 m tide, which is a moderate current for the Bristol Canal (the strongest I’ve ever experienced was 14m). The first bite came not long after I cast my rig and I had four smaller sharks in an hour.
The current slowed to a minimum and the boat started turning towards the wind. “Now” - I thought and I reeled in my rigs and then put one with a whole mackerel back in the water. Changes in currents always yield sharks and this time was no different. I felt a tug and then we were off to the races/ I counted to ten holding the braided line between my fingers and then I set the hook. The rod bent, almost touching the water and the sound of my braided line was music t my ears. “I think this one’s bigger” - I yelled, struggling with the fish. Soon, I could see its spotted back. When I got it out it turned out I had hauled a shark over 10lb (5kg) and that became my personal best.
It was and incredible day on the water. My final score was six fish. Tackle is a crucial factor when it comes to fishing and mine was definitely up to the challenge. You might think that my rigs seem too strong for the fish I caught but believe me, they had their work cut out for them. This is what they had to carry: my 200 gram weight, a mackerel (around 100 - 150 gram), a nursehound, which lives in the strongest currents anywhere in the world. You can easily tell that lighter tackle might not be able to do it. My rigs never failed me and I had a huge smile on my face the entire time fighting those sharks.
Mikado Fishing Team