After canceling several trips, we were finally able to plan an offshore kayak fishing trip to coincide with a favorable weather forecast. Under sunny skies with calm winds, I joined a small group of friends for a shark fishing adventure 30 miles off the south tip of Wales.
Fishing for Sharks in the Celtic Deeps
The shark grounds are in the Celtic Deeps, a trench of deep water that swings close to the southwest coast of Britain. In order to access the area, we used our friend Rob Rennie’s charter boat Lady Jen.
Cruising at over 20 knots it took us an hour and a half to reach the fishing grounds. As soon as we stopped, Rennie dropped several chum bags over the side of the boat. Less than 10 minutes later, we launched three kayaks. I stayed onboard Lady Jen to take photos and record the action.
The initial run stripped well over a hundred yards of line as the reel screamed loudly in protest. Bowes screamed in excitement as the huge fish towed his kayak towards Trinidad.
The offshore fight is on
Greg Bowes was the first angler to hook into a fish. The initial run stripped well over a hundred yards of line as the reel screamed loudly in protest. Bowes screamed in excitement as the huge fish towed his kayak towards Trinidad.
At first, there was little Bowes could do other than hold on as the fish pulled his kayak. After 10 minutes, he started to gain some line though the fish was far from beaten. On three occasions, just as we were anticipating the fish would come into view, the huge shark made a powerful dive effortlessly stripping yards of hard-gained line.
Gradually, the length and duration of these dives became shorter as the fish started swimming in circles beneath the boat.
After a long wait, I got the first glimpse of color. Porbeagle sharks are big with a heavy body. They look similar to a salmon shark and can weigh more than 300 pounds. I could tell Bowes had hooked a good-sized porbeagle. We estimated the huge shark weighed around 160 pounds.
Bowes worked the huge fish then paused for long runs until the shark was sufficiently close for him to grab the leader. After a quick glory photo, he leaned over, snipped the wire leader and let the fish slowly swim away into the deep.
Reeling in porbeagles and blues
A half-hour after fishing resumed, we watched in silence as a classic vee-shaped dorsal fin worked its way through the slick then disappeared below the surface. Moments later, the ratchet on a reel coughed twice prior to a howling staccato scream of the shark’s first run. Mark Kemble was hooked up and it was his turn to experience a “Milford Haven Sleighride.”
Kemble had a decent-sized blue shark that provided great sport, but blues are nowhere near as strong as porbeagles. With short, quick runs and an obstinate fight, the blue shark put up a good battle, but Kemble’s heavy tackle and experience were no match. In less than 15 minutes, Kemble cut free our second shark.
Then the action went quiet for two hours. Rennie added a couple fresh chum blocks to spice things up and it wasn’t long before we spotted another blue in the slick. A few minutes later, Mike Burnett was fighting his first shark. Then, Greg Bowes hooked a fish, too.
Bowes’ fish was not a monster, and five minutes later he released a 40-pound blue shark. Mike Burnett’s fish was different, it took the fight deep. We thought it was another blue shark, but after a few minutes, Burnett pulled up a 50-pound porbeagle. His fish was just a pup by porbeagle standards, but it allowed Burnett to tick the accomplishment off his life list.
Porbeagle Sharks Are Quite the Catch
These were not the first porbeagle sharks taken from kayaks in the United Kingdom, but Greg Bowes and Mike Burnett have joined a select group of anglers who have achieved the accomplishment.
This article was first published in Kayak Angler Issue 46. Subscribe to Kayak Angler and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos.
Greg Bowes fights a porbeagle shark while fishing off Milford Haven, South Wales. | Feature photo: David Lewis