IFD: Andy Griffith is one of the few anglers alive who have caught a mako shark in the UK. Andy from Kent can also lay claim to being the only UK angler to have caught mako, blue and porbeagle shark plus common skate over 100lbs in one year, an amazing feat by anyones standards and the mako being a Welsh record. We were to delighted he could give us this interview so over now to Andy
IFD: Hi Andy, what was your introduction to fishing?
AG: It was fly fishing, I had a mate from down the road and his Dad would take us fly fishing. At first his Dad would cast out for us to retrieve and this way I had my first trout and I was hooked. Sometime later, we went on a trip to Deal pier and fishing with orange hand lines we caught out first pouting or Deal salmon as we called them. I don’t know what it was about sea fishing but I was just drawn to it. I got a rod and reel and just went from there. Then my Dad took me on a few charters primarily for codling off the Kent coastline. Then I got to driving age and started beach fishing mostly at night. From there myself and a few friends would split the cost of a charter and fish for all the usual species.
IFD: Do you still do much shore fishing?
AG: Yeah funnily enough I only really got back into this year. I got myself some new gear and have been enjoying it. I’m looking forward to the cod fishing here in Kent over the winter.
IFD: What was your first ever charter like?
AG: My first ever charter was out of Deal, where they launched from the beach. The first fish of any note was a 4lb codling and I thought it was huge!
IFD: How did you first go to Wales for the sharks?
AG: I had tried sharking for three seasons in a row without success from Looe in Cornwall. Then one day I was watching John Wilson on SKY, and on that episode he was in Oban in Scotland fishing for skate with Ronnie Campbell and I thought I’d quite like to give that a go. So I got in touch with Ronnie and made a trip up there with a mate and I managed to get my first common skate 179lb. So I came back from there with the idea that I wanted to target the bigger species found in UK waters. I was thinking what would I go for next when I see John Wilson on the telly again this time catching blue sharks aboard White Water with Andrew Alsop. So after that I got in touch with Andrew and booked three days in August. Not knowing what to expect from my Cornwall experience I counted down the days till the trip and was going to be fishing with my buddy who was with me in Scotland.
We had seven the first day, six the next and three on the final day which for us was an amazing result and I had my first blue over 100lb. Actually on that first day I fought a fish for one hour forty five minutes that had managed to spit the hook and foul hooked itself on the pectoral fin. We lost it at the side of the boat but Andrew reckoned it was 180lb.
We went back the following year and had to cancel some dates due to the weather. I really was enjoying the sharking so the next year I booked even more trips.
Also in the winter Andrew moves the boat back to Penarth and continues fishing in the Bristol channel for numerous species. I started going on some of these trips and most of my PB’s are from the there. There are many species on offer with many rays, cod, and smoothound.
IFD: Can you tell us about the Mako session?
AG: Well at the start of the season last year Andrew had bought a new boat, I had the second day of the season booked which was in June. They had been out the day before filming blues and had plenty of them. So I asked Andy could we try for a big porbeagle and he said yeah but on this mark we will either get one or we might get nothing at all. Anyway we set off and that day I had my PB porbeagle of 235lb. I had that fish on a 15/20 travel rod, shimano tld on braid so it was some battle. To go out so early in the season and catch that fish I was elated.
So it was three weeks later and I was back out again. That morning, I said to Andrew jokingly after the last porgy I would love it if we caught a mako!
We started by trolling baits very slowly and putting in a steady scent trail chumming all the while. We did this for a few hours and eventually stopped, we had put down a chum slick for miles. The first fish was the best of eight blues that day 120lb
Next the deepest bait went and and it was porbeagle on and turned out to be a fish of 119lb so I was chuffed with that.
There was an amazing amount of bird activity that day probably attracted by all the chum we had put in. A half an hour passed and the float nearest the boat took off and the reel started pissing out line. Before anyone could shout shark on, the mako just came vertically out of the water and Andrew and Julian shouted ” It’s a fucking mako”, it was a beautiful clear day and it looked some sight jumping straight out of the water.
I just looked at them and thought “oh shit this is history” so the pressure was on from the start to land Wales’s first mako. I only knew a little bit about the species but I knew how they were capable of great speed.
We had to move the boat a few times, the fish didn’t go deep and was staying on the surface. I was surprised how easily it was coming in after the first runs and by ten mins it was nearly at the side of the boat. This species is known for it’s intelligence and it was like it had just come in to take a look at the boat because it took off like a rocket after that. The fight went on and by forty five mins we had it on the deck, and that was after some nice landing skills by Andrew as it had a serious set of delph.
The crazy thing that day, was after the fish was hooked and David Morris started reeling in the other lines as quick as possible, a second mako followed one of the baits in and we reckon it was even bigger than my one. They are known to hunt in packs so it just goes to show. After all the excitement we headed back to port. We recieved a letter from the I.G.F.A to tell us it was the first time all three species were caught from one boat on the same day anywhere worldwide, a shark grand slam and I was especially proud of this.
My happiest memories in life were when the children were born and family things, but seeing that mako coming clean out of the water was a special point in my life and one I won’t forget…
IFD: You have also fished in the Canary islands how has that been?
AG: I’ve done a bit of fishing in the Canaries, trolling lures. I’ve seen marlin quite a few times but never had one. I have had some skip jack tuna or bonito and some albacore and this year had a 48lb albacore while out fishing with my father in Tenerife.
I also have a trip to the Florida Keys next month over to Rodney Goodship. I’m really looking forward to it for some proper time sharking and maybe the goliath grouper. I’m going out there with Andrew and Mark Nelson the first UK angler to catch four species over 100lb in one year and Simon Hughes who has fished all over the world. Rodney’s record is 63 shark in one day so we will try for that record. I’m really interested in getting a hammerhead but May is probably a better time of year to try. I’m looking forward to it and it will be a fun trip.
IFD: Well Andy thanks for talking to us and hope you have a great Florida trip
AG: Anytime Paddy my pleasure mate