Andrew Alsop is arguably the best shark skipper in the UK. He runs White water charters out of Milford Haven and has a very enviable list of shark captures out of this Welsh port. He currently holds the Welsh record for Blue and mako and regularly catches porbeagle shark. Prolific at inshore fishing also for smoothounds, rays and many other species, here is Andrew’s interview….
Me: Hello Andrew, can you tell us how you began fishing?
AA: My Dad was always involved in fishing in one way or another, he had a little dinghy and we lived by the sea on the Bristol channell. So watching my Dad come back in and seeing those fish, dogish, rays etc and even seeing a tope, which probably started my shark fascination years later. I was then accompanying him on a few trips, so like a lot of young lads it was probably due to my Father.
Me: How did you start boat angling more seriously?
AA: I suppose I started taking it more seriously when I joined a club. We also used to go on holidays down to Looe in Cornwall. With the club we started going out with a boat called Electric Blue out of Plymouth which was skippered by Tony Allen. It was one of the best charter boats at the time and they had broken a world record with conger eel and the wreck fishing was excellent. With the club we started going twice a month and were having some fantastic fishing. I had my best coalfish at 22lb and ling up to 40lb.
Me: Can you tell us about your own first boat?
AA: As I said, my father was always into boats. I had been in the club and started thinking of getting my own boat in the mid nineties. Then in 1998, we decided to go for it and came over to Ireland to buy a O’Sullivan marine HR22. We bought the hellraiser and never looked back. We brought it back to the Bristol channel. After a while we brought it down to Milford Haven which was about 100 miles from where we lived, and started using it more offshore. There was a real buzz when we caught our first shark from our own boat and I wanted to do it all the time then.
Me: Although best known for your sharking, you do a lot of other fishing too on Whitewaters, can you tell us about this?
AA: We have had our best smoothound at 25lb and small eyed ray at 16lb, we fish for cod, everything really. Its been a bit back to front for me starting with the sharks but now I also enjoy fishing inshore too.
Me: What was the biggest blue shark you have had on the boat?
AA: The biggest blue was Wayne Littles which was 222lb and caught in 2010. The first 200lber was Ronnie Webbs which was 214lb , that was our first Welsh record. That was the biggest blue caught in the UK since 1959. The blue shark record was one of the longest standing at the time. We now have had five blues over the magic 200lb.
Me: What was the biggest porbeagle?
AA: The biggest one we had was 235lb. We had one with a guy that i cut my hand on the wire trace when we got it boatside, but we had no tuna door so we couldn’t bring it onboard but that one was probably about 280lb. When we started fishingoff Milford Haven, we weren’t sure what the situation with porbeagles was, were they a fluke fish or not, but now we’re getting a better understanding. We have had to fit the puzzle together like a jigsaw. i started to understand that they were an early season and late season fish so if you really want to target them thats the time to do it. We fish in the same way as with the blues but maybe a bit deeper. I like to see dolphins feeding because where these dolphins are smashing through the baitfish, the sharks are probably feeding off the bottom of the ball of baitfish.
Me: You have also had the Welsh record Mako, what was that like?
AA: Well having the new boat helps. It gives me an extra hour or two out on the fishing grounds or it lets me explore areas previously out of reach. I always thought I’d cross paths with a mako, but whether you would hold it on the line or even loose it at the side of the boat was in the lap of the gods. You might only ever get one chance at it in years of fishing. That day was a special day, Andy Griffiths the guy who booked the boat was actually on his own and he landed first a blue of 120lb, then a porbeagle again 120lb then the mako at 194lb so he hooked and landed all three. Later we got a letter from the I.G.F.A. in America telling us it was the first time all three species were landed on the one day on the same boat.
Me: Where else in the world would you like to fish?
AA: Florida, the reason being is that it has everything. From lots of sharks to tarpon and a whole host of other species. I’ve been there with the family and it’s an anglers dream. You don’t have to travel too far over there to find good fishing. I’ve fished in Mauritious and in Cuba but it’s Florida for me!
Me: What would be your dream catch aboard Whitewaters?
AA: I think now it’s gotta be a thresher, that’s the dream. It would be great to have had all four species from the one port. The mako was the one I really wanted but it would be an achievement to get all four. The thresher is not an easy one by any means and the tactics have to be different. They are usually found within three miles of the land, in America they target them offshore but in the UK they are usually spotted inshore. So I will need a crew thats willing to shark fish inshore and put in the hours again hunting another ghost really. They are by no means common, but if I could catch anything that would be the one.
Me: Finally Andrew, what are the plans for 2014?
AA: Basically to fish as much as I can, I try not to set goals too much or you can be disappointed. Each day I go out it’s great to be just by the water. As I have said, I would love to catch a thresher but it won’t be the end of the world if don’t. I’ve been lucky so far and I’m just enjoying what I’m doing.
Me: Thanks a million Andrew for talking to us its been a real pleasure
AA: No problem Paddy anytime