Sunday, 28 July 2013

26-27/7/13 North Devon Porbeagle

I was disappointed not to be able to sample the North Devon sharking on my visit to Ilfracombe in June. The winds didn't play ball and I was unable to get out, but at least I had some fun with the Falmouth blues on the same trip. In a way, it was probably better to 'cut my teeth' on blues, especially as I hadn't ,at that time, caught a shark from my own boat.
Wayne had been carefully studying the weather reports, which would coincide with some practicable launches from Boscastle for the week-end. It looked good, so he gave me the call, and a couple of days later on the Thursday evening ,we were on our way with his 17ft Wilson Flyer 'Taryn' hooked up to the back of my VW camper, arriving at the village car park, our 'camp site' for the trip, in the early hours of the morning.
The slipway at Boscastle, if you can call it that, is not really suitable for my Warrior.The surface is broken and very uneven, the launch window, about an hour either side of HW is narrow, as is the slip itself, and it's necessary to detach the trailer from the tow vehicle to gain enough depth of water to float the boat off successfully.
'Jupiter' would quite simply be too heavy, not withstanding the fact that she is also too wide on her trailer to easily manoeuvre down the 'tight' approach road . Wayne's Wilson was ideal. Light and easy to push around we had her on the water after just a few hours sleep, and began our adventure.
Weaving our way out of the narrow, and indeed almost invisible, from the sea, harbour entrance , we were soon on our way to our chosen mark passing 'The Meachard', a  rock island that guards the harbour, and is the sole refuge from the weather should it misbehave in the  ten hour 'lock out ' period.
The huge, though docile Atlantic swells were immediately noticeable as were the extensive swarms of jellyfish in the water, possibly due to the  high temperatures we've been experiencing recently.
We soon arrived at our chosen reef -the scene of Wayne's 'monster' porbeagle capture of Spring last year and, with the pre mixed chum in the water, we began our drift in depths around 80ft.
Three whole mackerel baits were suspended under our adapted catfish, and water -ski floats, set at progressively increasing depths, relative to their distance from the boat, and a fourth mackerel was dropped directly under the hull.
It  soon became apparent that drift speeds were not what we were accustomed to on our home turf, being much slower and, as we were later to discover,  we'd chosen to fish in an area of relatively 'dead' water.
Reasoning that it would be unwise to break our chum trail, we drifted the area throughout the whole tide, still covering a distance of couple of miles, but with no sign of a shark.
A 5lb Pollack gave us a heart stopping moment by taking a shine to one of our suspended baits and several more, some put to use as hook bait,fell to our mackerel rigs but, once again, thank goodness we didn't have to rely on the 'stripey speedsters' for chum. There just weren't enough mackerel coming up.
Attempting to find the harbour entrance on the return journey was indeed interesting. It is entirely concealed from the sea and we relied heavily on the plotter trail to gain safe passage, and knowledge for the following day's run.
I think we were both quite relieved to see the boat safely back on it's trailer and securely attached to the VW, as it hadn't been that easy a retrieval. Swells in the harbour can be extremely hazardous having fetched all the way across the Atlantic ocean then suddenly being bottle necked through the narrow gap in the rocky coastline that serves as the harbour, making holding on to a boat quite difficult.
Both completely knackered, we hit our sacks at about 2200 hrs having consumed a  welcome burger and chips from the  Boscastle chippy. They'd run out of fish!
Back at the car park, I had the luxury of sleeping in my my camper but Wayne was consigned to Taryn's cabin and suffered a virtually sleepless night not helped by the fact that we'd left the boat hitched up to the van and I'm quite a fidget.
Every time I moved, the boat rocked!! I slept like a log.
Day two dawned, and a change of tactics was required.
 Wayne gave Graeme a call and he suggested we try a drift some considerable distance further up the coast where tide speeds would be faster, and therefore more favourable. He also advised us not to worry too much about breaking our chum trail but to continually drift and re-drift a reef of about a mile or two in length, much as I would do locally for bass.
 Porbeagles, unlike blue sharks, tend to be localised and, in this case , reef dwellers that are present because of the abundant food source.
It turned out to be sound advice because shortly after setting our chum trail, and commencing our first drift, Wayne had a positive take on the free lined bait fished directly under the boat.
Almost simultaneously, the clicker on one of my Penn Senators also indicated something interested in my own bait, a huge mackerel, set at about 40ft and 40 yards down tide of the boat.
Wayne momentarily connected with his fish and it was judged to be sizable but, no sooner had the battle begun, than  the line went slack.The hook had either slipped, or the fish had just dropped the bait. Of course, we'll never know which.
Back to my rod and it was evident that something was still playing tentatively with the bait. Remembering Graeme's advice on how finicky these porbeagles can be, I immediately switched the clicker off and knocked the reel out of gear, gently resting my thumb on the spool to prevent an over run and hopefully,feel the take develop.
 After what seemed like an age, but was in fact probably merely a few seconds, line was steadily pouring off the reel at a rate of knots and it was time to tighten down on the culprit.
Following a firm strike, Initially the resistance felt suggested the presence of a tope on the other end, and I remember clearly telling Wayne the same but suddenly, the fish took a strong dive and gave away it's true identity, the  U.K 50lb class rod taking on quite an impressive fighting curve.
To me as a sharking tyro , whatever was on the other end  felt BIG. No, I'll rephrase that, it felt REALLY BIG. Certainly bigger than the Falmouth blue sharks and much, much stronger.

I can only describe the fight as 'dogged'. Not a fast moving creature but ,I got the impression that this fish really did not want to submit and indeed, during the battle which lasted about 45 minutes I had the wind on leader on the reel, and the shark up to the boat on three separate occasions before she was even showing the first signs of tiring.
 Each dive was a battle of wills, with me applying as much pressure as I dare and,  my back, would take.
Eventually I persuaded her to the surface, but the dual was far from over.
 She simply could not, in typical female fashion, decide which side of the boat she preferred,  taking me under the hull and nail bitingly close to the outboard prop on several occasions, until we eventually decided to lift the engine to prevent a catastrophe occurring.
Finally she tired enough for Wayne to be able to safely grab the trace with gloved hand , restrain her for a few seconds on the surface with film camera running, whilst I slackened off the clutch, just in case , and feast my eyes on the fish.
 In stark contrast to the 'pretty' and sleek blue shark, what confronted me was an  aggressive looking creature with a portly body, and a short stumpy snout incorporating a huge inky jet black seemingly staring eye, and a ragged set of teeth to match.
 A real powerhouse  of a fish clearly, a close relative of the infamous 'great white' shark. She was quite literally, breath taking and sadly, the pictures do her no favours.
There was absolutely no way this one was coming on board and, with the hook clearly inside the mouth, once she was judged to be recovered, it was decided to snip the trace cleanly with wire cutters and set her free.

Watching her kick her tail strongly, and disappear safely to the depths in the gin clear water is an image that will remain permanently engraved in my minds eye- a fantastic fishing moment indeed.
I've caught bigger (bronze whaler) shark from a Namibian beach but, as with the blue shark in June, this porbeagle meant so much more. All the research, preparation and effort that Wayne and me have put in to these trips with our own boats came to fruition once again.
Estimated at 150lb, in the grand scheme of things not a particularly big shark but, It was plenty big enough to give me a run for my money. I beat it, but it beat me up a bit in the process.
 Quite how Wayne coped with last spring's porbeagle of at least three times the size , I'll never know. All I can say is; 'the man's a hero'.
For the rest of that day we continued to drift the mark and must have completed a dozen or so runs. Although I didn't admit it to Wayne at the time, I was desperate for him to get his own shark but it just wasn't to be.
 The only other shark encounter we had was when a porbeagle followed and grabbed a hooked tope of about 20lb on Wayne's rod only letting go about 20ft below the surface.
The tope did indeed, prove to be a nuisance and we lost count of how many we caught and they weren't all pack fish. Wayne caught one of about 30lb, a decent fish back home, but not what we'd come for.
As the day progressed, our precious supplies of pre -made chum thawed , and dispersed too quickly out of the bucket for our liking. We tried hard to supplement the mix with chopped mackerel, but they proved more than difficult to locate and catch and, by late afternoon ,we'd run out completely and our chances of seeing another shark were severely curtailed.
Nearly ten hours after catching that porbeagle, it was time to head for home, the Flyer living up to it's name by skimming effortlessly across a flat calm sea punctuated by the gentle rolling swells, and the odd porpoise with calf in tow. What an atmosphere.
Having become experts over night, the approach to the harbour, and recovery of the boat were successfully negotiated without incident this time around, and we set off for the 200 plus mile drive home into the small hours of the night ,armed with a great deal more knowledge that we'd had 48 hours previously.
We will be back....and, we don't need a bigger boat!



22/7/13 Just Mackerel

A disappointing trip this one in search of bass. I'd heard a few had been caught on baits on the reefs at #6 so decided to have a crack myself starting at #17, which isn't actually that gnarly, and finishing up at #6 itself, joining Ted in his Orkney.
Plenty of mackerel but unfortunately no bass despite working my live baits quite hard.
You can't win 'em all.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

18/7/13 Turbot and Brill

On our last tope run together , Steve and me had discussed the possibility of catching turbot, and brill 46 from our local sandbanks.These highly prized fish are relatively rare, and require a methodical approach but, after the recent hectic tope fishing I've been experiencing, I was ready for something a little different.
Although Steve hasn't caught that many local turbot, he does have some recent experience gathered at other venues including the famous Shambles Bank at Weymouth (On the Warrior travel list), and this valuable knowledge would be put to use on mark 46.
The plan was to thoroughly scan the bank with our drifts, noting speeds etc , patiently wait and see what would happen, and try not to get distracted by moving locations.
Baits were either thin strips of fresh mackerel, or sandeel, live or strip which we'd managed to 'sabiki' up on the bank and keep live in the bait tank. This was actually a first for me and despite their diminutive size, I actually found their catching quite absorbing in itself.
Two Turbot and two Brill came to Steve's baits-fish of about 3-41/2lb and a great success.I ,on the other hand , managed a plaice on mackerel strip and ended with a plump little bass on the live sandeel so will have to return on the next set of neaps to try again for the target species.
The bank at #46 actually turned out to be a series of banks and showed up as 'waves' on the plotter which was very interesting indeed.

17/7/13 Fifty More Tope......

.......and an undulate ray.
I've been promising my piking buddy Dave a tope trip for some time but trying to pin the man down has been difficult, to say the least. But today, with the perfect combination of a small tide and flat calm conditions, I succeeded in persuading him to take time off work and join me for a run down west to fish mark 41
Mackerel were thin on the ground but, of a good size and we soon amassed enough for the day. Bites came virtually from the off but, the perpetrators were rarely more than ten pounds in weight. Great fun, to be sure, and Dave really enjoyed the action but I wanted to seek out some bigger tope.
We did have a brief move to the wreck near mark 42 but, once the tope had picked up the scent of our baits, they again turned out to be 'packers'.
Returning to a sloping bank close by our original location produced more of the same and by the end of the session we'd bagged around fifty, with this bonus 12lb undulate thrown in for good measure.
I've been told that these pack tope tend to take over the marks as the season progresses but Neil, who was fishing over on mark 21 did pick up a handful of better sized fish for his clients so, perhaps those 'bigguns' are not quite off the agenda yet.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

14/7/13 Diary Of An Average Angler's Wife.

Took the Missus out fishing with me today-her first trip out in the Warrior and, her first proper attempt at boat fishing. We did try a bream trip in Scooby 2 but, she began to feel a little sea sick at anchor so this time, I was all too aware of the importance of 'getting it right'.
Taking a beginner boat fishing can be a nerve wracking task, especially if that person is worried about feeling ill. I HAD to find fish in order to keep her busy enough  to avoid feeling sick,and to make it an enjoyable occasion so she'd want to go again. A tall order.
Bream would have been most people's first choice but , they haven't been that obliging this year.
The charter boats are concentrating on the plaice fishing at the moment because of this, to entertain their crews. I was after something a little more exciting.
Pack tope on the 'half way' was the choice. They scrap hard,especially on a lighter rod, look nice,are not tiddlers, and are generally good fun to catch. Plus, on this mark, there is always a chance of a BIG tope as I found out two years ago or, some nice ray which have also put in an appearance on previous sorties.
The mackerel were obliging which kicked us off on the right foot and Jan enjoyed the 'action' straight away. I did try and swiftly get them in the cooler after despatching, and away from sensitive eyes although this didn't seem to be too much of an issue.
Once at anchor, the fishing was so lively she didn't have time to think about sea sickness. A constant procession of 'packers' up to double figures along with the inevitable catsharks (my new name for doggies which I much prefer)and finally this 14lb undulate to really test her skills.
She did exceeding well and i'm proud of her, quickly mastering casting,hitting the bites on the circle hooks and enjoying every minute.
We had about three hours fishing , which was just about right, and left the mark with them still biting....I even let her drive the boat home.

10-11/7/13 Struggling.

I cannot complain. I've had some extremely exciting fishing of late and have been very lucky with my catches but, sooner or later, something had to give.
The first day i set aside for a solo trip to try for a bass. Usually, I prefer to tackle bass alone, mainly because it takes a lot of patience and I'm a long way from getting anywhere near consistently catching the buggers. Drifting live mackerel was the method of choice and despite easily finding enough good baits to fill the tank along with a pollack which very nearly joined them, I failed miserably on the chosen target.
Now, Its likely that I may have scared any resident bass on the reef away by motoring, unintentionally of course, over the shoal.
Neil turned up later in the afternoon to drift for bass with lures and, if anyone could find them, he could......but he failed too.
I took Dave Nevatt with me on the second day starting at Smooth hound bank, but there were no smoothounds.Moving over in between the 'two fingers' which, despite being highly recommended as a ray mark,didn't produce rays, trying Phil's mark which did give us a thornback and ending up North of the 'stick' which gave us an undulate and some bait nicking bream. Dogs and a hound did show up, as well as a gurnard for Dave but,despite catching quite a few species and getting constant bites, the fishing wasn't brilliant.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

9/7/13 Local Sharking

Following on from the success of our shark adventure to Cornwall, Wayne and me have now set our sights on local shark.It'll be a tall order but, we have been doing our research.
On my own patch east of the Selsey peninsula i've gathered several reports of thresher sightings and hook ups by Littlehampton skippers.Neil has had encounters and Steve Wells has also tangled with the specie. Unfortunately, I've not as yet found anyone in recent years who has successfully managed to bring one to the side of the boat.
Wayne has also picked up a good deal of reliable information about his side of Selsey and of course,the patch encompasses the Isle Of Wight which has a rich shark fishing heritage.Nowadays , there are less shark about generally but, we still feel its worth putting the time and effort into the task and, if we see a shark one day..............
I've recently heard of a Littlehampton crew that spent several days fishing a considerable distance South West of the island and scoring with a handful of porbeagles to 350lb interestingly, most caught in darkness. On the day we tried for a shark ourselves, a Langstone charter was reputed to have caught a 140lb 'porgie' quite by accident from 'our' tope grounds so, it would appear that, we do indeed, have a chance.
Quite how we would handle anthing bigger than my big Falmouth blue inside our tiny boats is anybody's guess , so I suspect that future shark captures may involve 'touching trace' and releasing at the side .
Wayne has a very tidy 17ft Wilson Flyer 'Taryn' (named after his daughter) which he keeps at the Eastney Cruisers Association- a very impressive set up with some superb facilities for small boat users and at a fraction of the cost of my own boating expenses. We met up for an early morning start running 'Taryn' down the excellent club slipway into the Eastney/Hayling channel and set off in near perfect sea conditions to an area some 20 miles off recommended to Wayne by commercial fisherman Ted Legge.
With the chum 'down' the mackerel soon appeared so , after gathering our hook bait supply , we set our shark lines at the usual prescribed distances,and began our drift. Initially, we were taken eastwards on the flood then inscribed a huge clockwise arc on the plotter taking us close on 25 miles off for the ebb tide which we continued to follow until the second slack and the end of the fishing.
Unfortunately just one slice of action to report when Wayne's bait was 'nibbled' for about a mile before a steady run ensued but, we failed to connect.Speaking to Graeme Pullen, its possible that it may have been a tentative thresher teasing us but,of course, we'll never know.
No shark, granted but, a highly enjoyable start to our campaign with another piece of the jig saw in place.We will return.

Monday, 8 July 2013

5/7/13 Fifty Tope.

 49lb 'Soupfin Shark'

With small tides(4.8m) and perfect weather  I went in search of tope again, this time, taking my mate Simon along for the ride. Starting at 0700 gave us a full days fishing on the usual mark and even the mackerel were plentiful finding them in good numbers just beyond the Owers reef.
The tope kicked off from the start although most of them were smaller pack fish.
However, a few bigger fish began to show up as the day progressed. At one stage, we both had fish on at once. Mine hit the surface first and, wanting to give Simon a good look at her, especially as he'd not seen a tope quite as big before, I held it on the surface whilst he dealt with his fish.
Unfortunately, this was a mistake. The tope, probably a mid thirty, gave a hard kick and snapped my precious 30lb class Suveran clean in two.
The leader must have chafed against the break because that parted too but luckily I managed to hold on to it and successfully T bar the fish free.
Soon after came the biggest fish of the day again to my rod, a tidy fish weighed in at 49lb and still the tope came.
In the end it became a numbers game as we passed 30, then 40 and finally reached the 50 mark before calling it  a day. Once again the fresh mackerel ran out and some back up frozen continued to do the business.
Fantastic fishing and Simon loved every minute of it.

I'm currently reading 'Sharks In British Seas' by  Richard Pierce which I highly recommend to anyone interested in all species of shark and in which the tope, is also known as a ' soupfin shark'. A rather more interesting name for the specie but one also, that gives us a clue to its unsavoury use as a luxury food source.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

3/7/13 Mullet Fix.

Mullet lie at the roots of my fishing. Well actually, that's not strictly true . I fished very keenly as a teenager ,mostly for coarse fish, but it was mullet fishing that kicked off my 'renaissance' period when I rediscovered fishing at the turn of the century having 'let it go' for over twenty years.
What on earth did I do with my time, I ask myself.
Mullet fishing will, I suspect, always be there. It's simple, eminently affordable and endlessly challenging and I have a deep affection for it. If , for whatever reason, I have to one day give up the boat, or can't get up the river for a pike, I 'm pretty sure I will be able to go mulleting.
Fish have been showing under my boat in the marina for some time although, I assume due to low spring temperatures, they were late turning up this year. For various reasons, I won't target these marina mullet at the present time, even though they seem to be of a very good size, preferring instead the peace and quiet of the open river.
Generally, when fishing the main river I prefer to wait for low water. It makes a lot of sense to me that the huge reduction in water volume at this state of tide increases chances of locating them.
Picking one of my favourite stretches, they were quite easy to spot, and I tried my usual trick of trotting a float downstream to any likely candidates.
It didn't take long for a bit of interest to be shown but the first proper bite was missed completely. For some inexplicable reason, I watched the float disappear completely and failed to react at all. Senior moment.???
A few minutes passed and when the bite registered, on this occasion, I did the right thing and a scrappy two pounder was soon beached-my first of the season.The feisty little fellah kept fighting on the bank and needed pinning down for a pic.
Usually, the flow starts to tail off a couple of hours after low tide at the river entrance. On a big tide the river rises, but still flows towards the sea-a curious phenomenon. Today, being a small tide the 'slack water' period was prolonged and, although the mullet require a more sensitive approach at this time with the float shotted down to reduce its buoyancy, they do seem to feed well. I can't always guarantee a fish, but it's on the cards.
The river is so still, it's akin to fishing a lake.
A couple of nibbles ensued followed by a positive take and ,'bang' another fish was 'on'.
A fat three pounder this time in sparkling condition-a welcome sight.
I fished on hoping for the hat-trick but once the tide began its flood the fish just switched off the feed which is consistent with what I've always found at this spot.
Good fun.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

30/6/13 Fishing With Bri'

Brian's a good mate of mine, and a neighbour at the marina. We seem to have similar ideas about fishing probably because we both come from a coarse fishing background. Brian's playground was formerly the River Arun where he's had considerable success in the field of match angling.
I've only been back from Cornwall a day, and that day was spent cleaning up the boat and getting her back on the mooring. With the weather set fair for the morning, it was rude not to go fishing although, after the intensity of the sharking, I fancied something a little more relaxing.
Although clear just outside the harbour, the weather soon turned foggy and the temperature dropped enough for me to don my floatation suit jacket.
Shorts and crocs on the bottom half of course.
Initially, we headed to the Pine wreck but the only thing that showed the remotest interest in our shads and sidewinders were pout.
A dive boat appeared out of the murk, and that was our signal to up sticks and move on although, they were polite enough to ask if they would be disturbing us which is unusual and considerate.
I wanted to show Brian my 'half way' mark and see if there were any tope and hounds about but before that, we needed some mackerel.
It didn't take long to collect enough for hook bait and in amongst them a lone sardine turned up. A first for me that tasted absolutely spectacular grilled on toast for the following day's lunch.
We settled on the mark just as the tide started to make and a steady stream of pack tope came to the boat along with a nice double figure hound for Bri, which were great fun as we'd both downsized to 6-12lb outfits to make the most of the sport.
Brian was really enjoying himself.
This mark has produced a BIG tope for me-about two years ago, so I felt there was always a chanc e of something special turning up.
The wind speed increased dramatically as the afternoon progressed (it was forecasted)and with a bumpy sea, came some anchoring problems. On three occasions my anchor was tripped and despite paying out extra line, on a fourth occasion the anchor actually lifted, I suspect assisted by the Alderney buoy and the fact that the sea bed was probably quite soft.
I wasn't the only boat suffering. Several boats on the radio were experiencing similar difficulties. When the spring clip holding the buoy to the ring accidentally opened, and we had to manually haul the anchor before chasing the buoy down tide, we called it a day and headed for home at a steady 14 kts.We'd had a good bag of tope anyway.
A rogue wave, caught broadside just outside the river entrance caused Jupiter to heel at quite an alarming angle but, the  boat could handle it despite both of us giving each other one of those simultaneous 'looks' as one does.
A thoroughly enjoyable days fishing with good company.

Monday, 1 July 2013

25/6/13-26/6/13 Shark Adventure.

After several months of planning and research I've finally been able to go shark fishing in Jupiter....

It all started last winter when I discovered information about a huge porbeagle shark that had been caught on the North Devon coast from a 17ft Wilson Flyer dinghy. Angling journalist Graeme Pullen was the skipper, and Hampshire small boat enhusiast Wayne Comben was the man who had the pleasure of bringing the 'monster' to the side of the boat.It was his first shark trip!
Most anglers seeking shark will use a charter boat where pretty much everything is done for you by the skipper and you rely on their knowledge and experience but, to catch shark from a small trailered dinghy off your own back is, in my opinion , quite an achievement and something I was eager to attempt  myself.
I managed to contact Wayne directly, we exchanged several emails discussing tackle , tactics etc and  agreed to do a trip together sometime.
I  read everything I could on the subject, finding books from the early sixties and seventies that are still useful to the present day shark tyro, as well as a wealth of information on the internet. However, apart from G.P there  appears to be few anglers who have attempted shark fishing from a  small boat.
Initially, I was interested in trying for the Devon porbeagles and using the WSF forum to research, eventually met up with Nick (Mr Pix) in Ilfracombe. We've since become good mates , I've had a run out in his own boat moored in 'Combe' harbour and it was his suggestion that I approach the 'porgie' grounds from his home port which also happens to be where my son Jack lives.
I had researched various launch points for this relatively isolated stretch of coastline, but they all proved to be unsuitable so I decided to go with Nick's advice if possible, though I did at this stage, have a preference to 'cut my teeth' on some blue sharks first, and build up my experience gradually.
Other preparations for this trip included the gathering of suitable equipment. I managed to track down a matching pair of  new old stock left hand wind U.S built Penn 4/0 Senators and teamed them up with some inexpensive U.K class 50lb rods. The reels were loaded with 300yds of 80lb spectra braid with a 200yd 'top shot' of 50lb mono.
Alain Storey, also a WSF find, made up the excellent traces as I don't yet possess the required tools for the task.
10/0 Mustad  hooks were crimped to 6ft of 350lb wire and attached by the biggest link swivel I've ever seen in my life. A 20ft (wind-on the reel) rubbing leader of 400lb strain was employed, and two huge sliding catfish floats were adapted for the task by attaching a run clip to the float body using cable ties.
This would enable the floats to be set at the required depth by trapping the main line in the run clip.Once a shark took, and the line tightened sufficiently to release from the clip, the float would slide all the way down to the bottom swivel-about 6ft from the hook.
This gear is probably a little 'over gunned' for blue shark and 30lb class kit would suffice however, I wanted a fighting chance should a bigger shark take a shine to my baits and during my research I found that there was always a chance of this happening, albeit a slim one.
A kidney harness and butt pad were also added to the list along with a massive 120 litre cool box used to transport the pre-made rubby dubby.
Partly because we were unsure of the availability of mackerel but also due to it's undoubted effectiveness, the chum mix was made up of waste trout sourced from my local trout fishery In Sussex.These discards would have simply been buried so it was a satisfying, if  slightly unpleasant experience to make the stuff from a recipe provided by Graeme.
The trout flesh and guts etc were minced using one of those cast iron table top devices that everybody's Mum  had in the 60's and 70's, blended with bran which soaked up the not inconsiderable quantity of oil that these pellet fed trout are comprised of, and then frozen into 3.5 litre food containers, creating a conveniently sized 'block'.I finished with ten of these, and a 15litre bucket which contained all the carcasses, heads skin, etc-also covered in bran to soak up any remaining oil and frozen. Nothing was wasted.
If I'm honest, knowing what I now know, i'd be reluctant to eat one of these fishery trout.
 It took me nearly a day to process the whole lot in the garden at home a few weeks ago but, it was to be worth the effort.
The plan was to spend a week camping with the boat in the south-west starting at Ilfracombe on the North Devon coast ,meet up with my son Jack who lives there, and my daughter Grace who ,on the 25th would be celebrating her 21st birthday, and possibly get a trip out with Nick and Jack whilst I was there.
Following on from that, I would head to the south coast of Cornwall and meet Wayne at Falmouth.
It was a 'loose' plan and very much depended on the weather behaving but I began the trip in a philosophical mood and would simply wait and see what the 'wind gods' had in store for me.
For the first three days In Devon, fishing was completely out of the question-there was simply too much wind.I spent the time just hangin' with my kids,  and Nick turned up at the camp site for a chat and to check out Jupiter.
I needed a decent high pressure weather system with at least a couple of days of settled calm weather to attempt the 30 mile run down the coast from Ilfracombe to the porbeagle grounds...and it just wasn't going to happen. I expected as much before I left Sussex but also hoped for a more localised run out for tope with Nick but, high winds a rough seas put paid to that also.
Grace and me had spent a terrific 'day 3' walking the coast path together, checking out likely swims, and although 'day 4 ' was her birthday, she would be spending it with other family members so, sent me on my way.
She's a 'Top girl' my daughter, who fully understands her dad.
The weather for 'day 4' was looking promising with light winds so, a quick phone call was made to Wayne, and the boat hitched up for the 100 mile drive south arriving at Perranarworthal camp site just as darkness fell. We would be shark fishing in the morning!
A ten minute run from the camp site, the public slipway at Mylor is an absolute dream location to launch a boat . Shallow, sheltered, available at all states of the tide and with a convenient mooring pontoon and secure, cheap parking for van and trailer ,it's one of the finest I've seen.
Heading out of the huge natural harbour  we motored in a south easterly direction until we hit the 40 fathom line approximately 15 miles off shore to begin our drift.
 This piece of advice was provided by local commercial fisherman,  Frank Vinnecombe who, along with his brother Robin ran a couple of  charter boats back in the 60s and 70s -the heyday of Cornwall shark angling.
Friends who use shark boats in neighbouring Looe tell me that they run a similar distance and depth so, there must be something to it.
We were a little concerned about whether or not we'd find mackerel for hook bait, especially as locally, the commercial fisherman had reported a shortage in recent years with a worsening situation.In Sussex,at the present time, they can be extremely tricky to locate.
 We needn't have worried.With the chum bucket in play,the mackerel were soon attracted, our sets of feathers were full almost immediately and we soon amassed a box full for baits, albeit of quite a small size.
 Once we'd had enough mackerel, the sharks rods were made ready.The four floats were set at varying depths from 10 to 40 ft , the shallowest being the closest to the boat, getting deeper further down tide. In this way, we attempted to set the baits within the chum trail which slowly sank as it drifted away from its source at the boat.
The chum trail must be continuous otherwise the homing shark may break off from the scent and never find the baits. It seemed to work very well-a distinctive oil slick being quite apparent on the surface of the sea...we sat back in our comfy chairs and waited...................
I suppose it took a couple of hours before the clicker on Wayne's TLD sang it's merry tune, and the 'Pompey Shark' bent into the first fish of the session. A very entertaining tussle ensued and, when the blue shark came into view, I'll admit to having my breath taken away somewhat.
 An incredibly elegant fish with a long streamlined snout, huge 'winged' pectorals,  a deep steely cobalt blue back, a bright pearly white underbelly and, of course, those teeth.A mightily impressive beast which Wayne estimated at about 75lb and cleanly released at the side of the boat.
I was elated. All the preparation and planning had paid off. A 'proper' shark caught from my own boat!!
Next , it was one of my Penns that burst into life and I had my first ever taste of being connected to a proper shark. Not a particularly prolonged fight, it has to be said, but the diving runs were very impressive and it was necessary to thoroughly tire this one out as it was coming on board for a photograph.
Once Wayne had a firm grip on the trace with gloved hand, my rod was securely propped in a rod holder with the reel drag fully loosened off. The other three rods had been reeled in and stowed out of the way under the cuddy and the deck had been pretty much cleared of anything that could get in the way.
Working together with one swift motion, we lifted the shark on board and I straddled the fish in an attempt to settle her down. With the hook removed I could just about drape her across my knees for the photo session before she was unceremoniously 'heaved' once again, over the gunwale. None the worse for her experience, she immediately kicked off  and dived into the depths, seemingly annoyed.
 What a sight for sore eyes.
I've caught bigger sharks from a beach in Africa but no fish, by a long shot, has  been so satisfying to catch. That shark was, at that point, the pinnacle of my angling career.
Wayne's next fish was about 60lb and was quickly followed by another take on one of my 'red' reels. This  fish felt considerably heavier than my previous, and gave a much stronger fight with deeper, more prolonged soundings.
Eventually with the leader on the reel, we could see that this was a much bigger shark and, at first I was reluctant to bring my prize on board. Wayne managed to talk me into it having experienced a similar sized fish on Graeme's boat and, with hindsight, I'm so glad he did.
The pictures speak for themselves. The fishes snout rested between my two seats and the tip of the tail  ended up much higher that the rod rail despite the body being 'snaked' across the deck. She made the Warrior feel very small indeed. I later estimated her at  94 inches, and Wayne reckoned she was a three figure fish  -I'll never know for sure but don't care in the slightest. It was a huge fish to bring aboard my little boat.

Wayne finished the session with the fifth shark of the day and we returned to port having had a superb day's sport ands grinning like Cheshire cats........what a day.
Shortly before leaving for home we spied a couple of sunfish cruising slowly about ten yards away from the boat displaying their distinctive  fin?????
We did try to follow and Wayne put out a bait but with no luck. An incredible sight to end the session.Happy 21st Birthday Grace!

Day 5 and we were blessed with an even calmer sea and slower drift speed, and this may have contributed to the sharks being a bit slower to find our chum trail. I think it was afternoon before Wayne took the first shark-another good fish in the 70lb bracket.
This was later followed by a spell of bad luck on my part.
We'd seen sharks nudging the floats-apparently they're attracted to the colour -yellow. I hooked into a shark and felt a strong dive immediately and then it all went slack! The 400lb rubbing leader had been bitten clean through.
Obviously before taking the bait, and whilst investigating the float, the shark had tangled the rubbing trace in its teeth and severed the leader when tension was applied.
 Interestingly, the two fish that were brought on board showed some 'teething ' problems by biting both my deck brush (also yellow) and , rather less amusing, getting a good toothy grip on one of the fuel tank filler caps. He soon let go probably disliking the taste of petrol but took a few brush bristles with him.By way of compensation, we later found a couple of teeth left inside the boat which we kept as trophies.
Shortly afterwards a shark again picked up my bait, and then....... proceeded to drop it. Bugger! Second chance missed.
Whether it was the same shark, or there were a few in our 'swim', we're not sure but almost immediately, Wayne's neighbouring float took off at a pace ,the shark was firmly hooked and my crew settled down to play his fish.
I managed to clear two of the rods away before noticing my remaining rod buck violently, the 'Senator' scream loudly, and yet another shark had taken my bait. We had two on at once In  something of a feeding frenzy.
Laughing at the situation, we managed to keep our sharks well apart. I let mine run  away from the boat to keep it clear of Wayne's fish however, there were some slightly tense moments as my shark decided to swim towards the boat thankfully,  changing its mind before coming into harms way.
Wayne managed to 'trace' his fish and quickly release it-another good sized shark of 70 plus before helping me deal with mine, a bigger specimen in the 80lb range, which was also cleanly 'T' barred at the side of the boat.

We'd also briefly glimpsed shark swimming under the boat obviously picking up the source of our chum trail so it actually turned into quite an exciting afternoon's fishing.Eventually with the wind picking up, we decided to call it a day.
Back at the slipway and we met with a local bass guide who was actually quite surprised by our stories of local shark, and despite the excellent weather conditions we saw very few other boats 'out there'.
Day 6 and the good weather had started to break.
 We could have tried our luck at the 'Manacles' and have been sheltered somewhat , the mark being in the lee of some high ground but, instead we stayed at the campsite and talked fishing before taking a short trip into the village for a pasty lunch.
It proved to be the correct decision as the wind picked up considerably in the afternoon.
Wayne wanted to call on Frank Vinnecombe who still has a boat in the harbour, and a fish shop in Mylor Bridge despite being nearly ninety years young.
Although Frank wasn't at home we eventually bumped into him by chance, and were able to personally thank him for his tips on location.

This has probably been my longest blog entry and fittingly so, as it's most definitely been the most satisfying and exciting fishing I've ever experienced. Everything worked as it should and the boat behaved impeccably both on the water, and behind my camper van.
In the end,all the preparation, investigation and planning paid off, and we were lucky to pick up a fish or two.I'm already thinking about the next trip!