After a season filled with plenty of fish, and numerous specimen Smooth-Hounds, Wicklow Boat Charter’s skipper Kit Dunne reports on his ultimate quest for 2012, the first specimen tope on-board Lisin…

It was always a my goal for 2012 to get a specimen tope, I knew the specimen weight fish were out there, but with the weigh-on-land rule I wouldn’t ever take a fish in to weigh. This meant I was relying on the new measurement system and needed to get that exceptionally long fish of 1.6M. I had seen many specimen weight fish landed this year, some were 15.1M, 15.4M, 15.5M etc and one particular close call was 15.8M long, all great fish but none hit the bar….. Until last week !

Job done, eventually after 1 hour the tope was landed, measured, pictured and then returned

We anchored up on the edge of a deep channel off Wicklow, tide was running hard but we knew we had to be there to maximise our chances, it was also a well known mark for Spurdogs so we had 2 targets really. Rods were set up and big baits presented, for 3 hours we waited, baiting up fresh every 15 minutes to keep the scent trail, we waited and waited. Then bang, as I was on the phone my rod nodded fast and sharp, I picked it up with one hand and passed it to my Father who was keen to get a tope. He waited until the take was certain then listened as the reel screamed, I hung up straight away to see him lift into what appeared to be a definite big one. I checked the drag as the fun began, run after run the fish eventually surfaced after about 20 minutes, we got a good look at it –  It was big, I prayed it was big enough. Having seen the size of it I re checked the drag making sure it was right, the fish was lip hooked so I felt we could tire it out without any risk. Time after time it came to the side of the boat but with a small lump in the sea and a fresh fish, tailing and netting were never going to happen yet, I even tried the lasso on one occasion only to leave the rope hanging alongside the fish.

As I waited at the stern once again, I looked up to see the tip of my uptide rod sliding down to the trace, my Father had to use the rod & multiplier upside down from here on to keep the line away from the broken tip – this was a nervous time I can tell you. Eventually after another 20+ minutes we had a tired fish alongside. I debated in my head every time it came to the boat, net or tail, switching nervously sometimes. At last it seemed like we were going to land it, I sent the net in and barely managed to force the tope into it, relief I can tell you. I never lifted a fish as quick into the boat. It was certainly there or there abouts I considered, and to my delight it passed the 1.6Metre mark, 160cms+, boy was I happy, and boy was my Father tired.

We didn’t weigh the fish at all since the fight took just under 1 hour, measurements taken were good enough, a few quick pictures and then I returned her to the sea. I held her head into tide over the side making sure she recovered, and I was glad to see her swim off.

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Kit Dunne
Wicklow Boat Charters,
Telephone: +353 (0)87 6832179 +353 (0)404 67031
Email: [email protected] Website:

6 foot 2 inch tall my Father holds his 5 foot 3 inch fish up.
6 foot 2 inch tall my Father holds his 5 foot 3 inch fish up.