Brian McCall reports on an outstanding achievement by  Irish Kayak Angling Club member Graham Smith. Catching tope, blue shark, porbeagle shark and skate from a kayak in one year…

Graham Smith, kayak angling maestro, has just completed a fantastic goal he set for himself a long time ago. To catch a Tope, a Blue shark, a Porbeagle shark and a Skate all from his kayak.

Tope – the first of the big four is ticked off the list

Very much a Tope expert, Graham very early on bagged his tope on his home grounds in Donegal back in May. A fantastic game fish that never fail to impress.

Following on from that, along with a number of other tope to pass the time, Graham concentrated on his second goal for the year, a Blue Shark. Having caught one the previous year, he was set for another battle. This time he went out from Reen pier with a few friends towards the end of June. One of the group landed the first of the day. Not long after Graham was into his own one. A very powerful fish that weighed an estimated 80lb.

blue shark
A blue shark in the kayak – halfway there…

That was the halfway stage.

Back to his own stomping ground in Donegal for a regular day out fishing for tope, and whilst jigging for mackerel and pollack he was reeling up a fish with a small bit of weight ,more than likely a coalie. But just as the rig appeared so did a rather large black fin which only then began to fight, and not surprisingly broke the small jig hooks. Not to be deterred the chum bucket was deployed along with a double mackerel flapper and a very long wait. Over two hours later and the chum washed out it was time to reload the chum bucket. So a small paddle back in to fill the bucket and back out to try again. Not long after that, the balloon float began to twitch and move. The line was starting to move in a direction behind him. Graham began to reel in what was only a small weight, probably a spurdog. The tip of the 1.5m trace broke the surface and as he reached to grip it the fun began. Finally he managed to bring it up and get the picture he’d waited so long for. A fish of approx 50lb. And also a first porgie to a kayak in Ireland that I am aware of.

1st recorded kayak angler to catch a porbeagle in Ireland. Just one left to go…

With the shark trio out of the way it was now time to focus on a real big brute. A skate. Graham had landed a couple last year in Donegal on the kayak so it was time to replicate the efforts again. Fishing a small coalie as bait hard on the bottom, it was now down to time. After a while came the clicking of the reel, up with all  the light gear, he reeled in and pulled hard to set the hook. No doubt about it, fish on. 50lb class rod doubled over whilst putting as much pressure as possible into it there was no stopping the fish driving down and along the bottom and then sticking itself to the sea floor.

Trying everything for twenty minutes or so and finally paddling the kayak to the opposite side of where the fish stuck he again pulled up which released the fish from the bottom. The fight continued for a further 45 minutes before finally seeing the top of his 250lb leader surface. But it again drove back 30 odd feet before surrendering. After all that battle it finally came alongside the kayak where it measured from wing tip to wing tip at 5’7″ and estimated at 190lb. A quick picture and a pat of respect it was released and returned to the bottom to fight again.

Last one one the list – Common Skate. This huge fish was estimated to weigh 190lb

Big congratulations from the club on a a huge achievement. You reaped the fruits of your labour.

This coming weekend, following a very successful stage in Kerry, is hosting stage 5 of its Irish kayak angling championship up in Donegal with the target a tope, a wrasse, a pollack, a gurnard and a skate as a joker. All welcome and you are very much encouraged to come along to see what kayak set ups are out there. Log on to the forum for all the details, safety tips for this meet and all of The reports in their full form.

Brian McCall
Irish Kayak Angling Club

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