Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Shark Angling Club of Great Britain

The Shark Angling Club of Great Britain (SACGB) was formed in Looe, Cornwall in 1953 by the late Brigadier J. L. Caunter. Looe quickly became established as the top venue for angling for Sharks on rod and line in the UK.

The main purpose of the SACGB is to promote the sport of Shark Angling in Great Britain with a mind to conservation, and provide members with an organisation which is regarded as the central authority in Great Britain for this sport.

In the early days a great many Sharks were caught and unfortunately killed. Holiday makers flocked to the quayside in Looe each evening, to see the Sharks being weighed. Sharks had to weigh 75lbs (34.1kg) or more to qualify for membership to the SACGB. However, since 1994 it has been the Clubs Policy that Sharks should be measured instead of weighed and released unharmed back to the sea.

The qualifying measurement for a Blue Shark is 7ft (213cm) or more from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. For Porbeagle, Mako and Thresher Shark it is 4ft 6ins (137cm) from the tip of the nose to the fork of the tail.

Since 1998 the SACGB has operated a tag and release programme whereby the Sharks are tagged before being returned to the sea. The programme has provided the Club with valuable information as to the migration route the Sharks take in the Atlantic Ocean, how far they travel and their growth rate and the information has and is being used in the conservation of Sharks. When a tagged Shark is recaptured, usually by commercial fishermen, the tag is returned to the Club and the returnee receives a 15 dollar reward. This has proved very successful and helps with the conservation of Sharks worldwide.

When I last visited Looe 12 years ago I was lucky enough to catch a blue shark of 60lb. However when I booked a days shark fishing on Typhoon I realised that the odds were against me as only around 200 sharks are landed annually by the Looe fleet compared to 6,000 back in the 1950s and 60s.

Shark fishing is a waiting game, mesh bags containing 'rubby dubby' (mashed up fish) are hung over the side at water level and with each wave bits of fish and oils are washed out to create a scent trail for the sharks to follow.

The boat starts a drift 10-15 miles out and mackerel flappers are suspended under floats at different depths and ranges from the boat. Four rods were fishing and we all drew lots for who had which rod. I drew the rod at the bow, unfortunately the two runs occurred on the same rod which was nearest the stern.

The lucky angler successfully landed both sharks, blues of 40lb (56 inches) and 80lb (84 inches) respectively.

Whilst waiting for the sharks to arrive we feathered for mackerel and I soon realised that mini sabikis were the most effective mackerel feathers I possessed. I also fished baited hokkai lures on the bottom and caught a number of whiting for tea. The sea bed we drifted over was sandy and held little else.
Although disappointed not to land a shark myself I was privileged to see two blue sharks being boated.