Graham Smith is one of the top Irish kayak anglers, along with people like Anthony Byrne and Gary Robinson. This year Graham became the first angler to catch a blue shark from a kayak in Ireland or the UK, and then went on to add common skate a few weeks later. So over to Graham now for his interview…
How did you start fishing Graham?
Originally it was going down to the mouth of the Nanny at Laytown with my father, catching flounders and things like that. Then on a Sunday we might go to Clogher head and we fished that way for years. We also loved the mullet fishing in Laytown which was always entertaining.
Then you moved to Donegal, what kind of fishing were you doing then?
When I moved to Donegal I joined the Moville boat angling club. It was a great club and we had many good sessions out of Culdaff. But it all changed with tighter restrictions on charter boats so the club fell by the wayside when there was not enough boats to still have the matches.
Can you tell us about your first kayak?
At first I bought a childs kayak just to try something cheap out on the local river just to see what it was about. I loved it so I went and got a proper kayak and over the years progressed to better kayaks and it just went from there really and I have been at it eight years now.
What was your first sea fishing sessions like on the kayak?
When I first started kayaking, a lot of those early sessions were spinning for pollock with a few lures and a light spinning rod. It was great craic, I was catching better pollock than i was from the boat and I could get into spots that no boat could. I was doing that for a long time and enjoyed every minute of it.
You were the first angler in the UK or Ireland to catch a blue shark from the kayak, can you tell us about that session?
I had wanted to do it for a long time and last year I organized it with a charter skipper to bring me out and I would go kayaking when we got out there. He got cold feet as the trip got closer so I had to wait till this year with my friends James Leahy and Anthony Byrne we found another skipper. But yet again he backed out so we were starting to think it wouldn’t happen until about two days before we actually went. James got in touch with Kieran Ring, a very decent guy from Youghal in Cork and is a top man with the blue sharks and he brought James and myself out as unfortunately Anthony couldn’t make it.
So Kieran brought us out about 15 miles and I had the first blue of about 40lb, and then in the last hour and a half, James and myself bought hooked into fish. James had his in by about half an hour. For the first half hour mine just towed me up and down with James slagging me that it was looking for another bait. I finally got it in in one hour five mins and from the measurements it was 99.7lb It had been a great day and the three of us were delighted.
Can you tell us about the skate session?
Well about six weeks before the session I was out one day and hooked into what I knew to be a skate. It was on 12lb tackle and it took off then stopped and got its head down. I knew the tackle was not up for the job and I was aware of getting the anchor snagged up while attached to this fish as the ground was very broken and rocky. A few weeks later I was back in the same area and trying to capture a spurdog take on camera so I sent the gopro down on the rope and fished away. It was a very quiet day with just a few fish but when I got home and looked at the footage here was a skate in and out of view for about fifteen mins and my wife thought I had gone mad as she watched my reaction to it!
A week later I was back and just had a 2lb lobster. A week later I had the first skate of 37lb. So I returned again this time with Mike Henry and Brendan Moyna and this time had the skate of 130lb. Id say I never would have got him on my lap on my own and Brendan was on hand to help get it onboard. The following day Mike also had a skate of 70lb.
If you could kayak fish anywhere in the world where would you like to go?
I’d love to go to the Amazon and fish for red tailed cats and arapaima and all that kind of stuff. Just the experience of kayaking in a place like that and the sights and sounds would be great. Also a tarpon trip to Florida would be a special one too I’d like to have a crack at that sometime.
Do you do any shore fishing at all now?
I have not done a bit of shore fishing since I started kayak fishing. Even though the shore fishing is excellent in Donegal I find I can catch more in a good day on the kayak than in a whole season on the shore.
What are your hopes for 2015?
Well we are just after getting sponsored by Stealth Kayaks, and our next target is blue sharks again but this time without the boat. And as ever keep trying for the porbeagles that are known to be in the area, so all going well next year we get one of those too.
I would just like to thank our sponsors Stealth Kayaks and Shamrock tackle who have always been very good to us. And we will be having a Stealth Kayaks demo day on the 6th December at Skerries in North Dublin so anyone is welcome to attend.
Well thanks for your time Graham and hope to see you on the sixth.
No problem lads anytime