IFD: Andrew Alsop is one of the most in demand charter skippers of our time. His name has been engraved into UK sharking with his ever increasing list of catches on White Water.
The numbers of sharks for this year alone are 711 blue sharks and a mind boggling 179 porbeagles. Just a few years ago numbers of beagles like that would have been crazy talk.
Then to top it all off two bluefin tuna hooked by Chris Betts and Simon Hughes. It really has been an incredible season for Andrew and that’s not even mentioning the smoothound, ray and cod fishing!
This year I was lucky enough to get to fish with Andrew myself and saw first hand his level of determination when it comes to getting the angler his fish.
From first thing in the morning to last thing at night he is working hard to keep the White Water machine rolling along.
So with all this going on, you may ask yourself does he ever get to fish himself nowadays and the answer is a resounding yes.
In his albeit small bit of spare time this year he managed to become the first angler in the UK and Ireland to have caught five species over the 1oolb mark in one year an amazing feat of fishing.
So now over to Andrew to hear how the year went…
At the start of this year was the record of five species in your mind or did it happen as the year progressed?
Well I knew my mate Fudge had been the first to catch four in one year about four years ago and I thought I’d love to do that but I’d never find the time. So it wasn’t really an intentional thing as I was more concerned with getting the fish, I really wanted to up my PB conger which stood at a respectable 70lb that I had with Tony Allen on Electric blue many years ago.
So that was originally my target but I also knew I would be going up to Ronnie Campbell in Scotland for our annual trip after skate so that would also be on the cards. The blue and porbeagle would be on my own terms if I could just find the time to fish myself and then I knew me and you had talked about the tuna a long time ago and that could possibly come at the end of the year.
So that was how it all came about really.
Ok first let us talk about the skate?
So first up we went on our annual skate trip up to Scotland to fish with my good friend Ronnie Campbell in Oban. There were already a few of the lads up there and Simon Hughes had just come back as his trips were blown off. So myself and Andy flew up there and we were to have two days fishing. We didn’t have much the first day and on the second day I got a 206 lb beating my previous PB by five pounds
We had joined a trip with Dave Morris and his friends and them boys can fish so it was nice to get the biggie that day.
I fought the fish with no harness from 550 ft of water and it took 45 minutes just to get it off the bottom and I still had another 550 ft to go!
So what species was up next?
So the next trip was the Porgies with Jerry in Cornwall. Myself and Andy decided to go down after hearing the lads had done so well.
We went down and I got one of about 380 lb and then before the end of the day Andy got one of about 500 lb both fish being well photographed and video footage taken.
So now I was on a bit of a roll and I still had my conger trips booked. The blue shark would have to be on my boat whenever I could get a chance and there was still the tuna possibility.
Can you tell us about the day of the big conger?
Catching a conger over 100 lb was always going to be tricky. there are a limited number of top Conger skippers to choose from today with a record of catching 100lb eels, but Dave Harrison is one of them.
Dave told me he could pick out eleven suitable dates during the year as you need to have everything perfect to stand a chance of getting one.
Ok then I said I’ll take ten of them!
There was always a chance we would loose some to the weather so to be in with a shot I would have to put it the time. Less than sixty UK anglers have caught a 100+ conger.
I knew with ten trips booked someone should get a big eel on one of them but with five anglers needed to get the scent trail going I just hoped it would be me.
So on the first trip I had a hell of a day with five fish over 50 lb and a 75.
Towards last knockings I put a large pouting out as bait and Dave said we will give it fifteen minutes more.
I dropped it down and could feel tap tap tap and I thought it must be a small conger. Then it started backing away and I thought hang on this is a lot bigger as it took off back into the wreck as I put the drag up and the rod buckled over and line was stripping.
I managed to get it up twice only for it to dive back down to the depths but on the third time it started coming up a bit easier so we started doubting how big it would be. So when we seen it I said to Harry Asprou it’s like a barrell, but we thought that was an optical illusion from the water distorting it. At the side of the boat Dave grabbed the leader and I unclipped the trace just as it decided it was gonna dive for under the boat so we had to hold on tight to get it aboard.
When it hit the deck the water hadn’t been distorting it, it looked huge. I had booked ten trips to try and achieve this goal and here I was with one on the first day I was over the moon.
Now for the blue shark Andrew?
So it was still only early May and I had the skate, porbeagle and now conger. To get a blue shark on my own boat should be just a formality. It was still to be a while before I got to fish for them and the day came on a day out with Martin Bowler and Steve Fettah and the new skipper for the second White Water boat next year Dan Paskell. We were to take the rods in sequence between us, so although I thought we might see some good fish it might not come on my turn so that was always the risk.
We were testing the new Blue Dog rods. Dan was first into a blue and it was 135 lb. Then I had a 60 a 70 and an 80 and dan had a few more. Then both our rods went off and Dan was on the widow maker and mine was closer in.
As I was fighting it I thought hang on this might be the one and as I got it in yep that’s the one I needed 115 lb.
So that was my fourth species over 1oo lb this year and Dan’s shark turned out to be a 189 lb porbeagle.
And for your fifth species over 100 lb this year can you tell us about the tuna?
So the next one was the tuna and it was going to be really tricky to get over to you guys when I could take some time off my own bookings and the weather needed to be right and everything.
Then out of the blue I get a call from Declan Kilgannon saying what have you on this week and I was supposed to be conger fishing again in Dartmouth but the weather wasn’t looking ideal for there so we were gonna be blown off.
My wife thought I wasn’t going to Dartmouth now and I would be home to help with the school runs and evening activities and now I gotta tell her I’m off to Ireland for five days with the traveling. When I got home happy after catching a tuna she just started at me and said don’t you ever do that to me again…… ok point taken!
So myself and Andy flew into Belfast grabbed a hire car and made our way over to Mullaghmore where we met by Declan. It was mid afternoon and he said right let’s waste no time and we jumped aboard Kiwi Girl.
Despite every effort being made by Declan we had no fish the first two days despite his mammoth effort. So it was on the last Day when Andy’s rod went and he caught his first ever bluefin tuna.
I was absolutely delighted for him but the time was now running out for me as I had to get back to Wales. Then again at last knockings, I was saved when my rod screamed off and fate smiled.
Just seeing it at the side of the boat was amazing an absolutely beautiful looking fish and my fifth species over 100 lb this year.
I would really like to thank Declan and Michael and Billy for their hospitality and great company and that was how I ended up at setting the new record of the five species.
Well thanks for giving us some of your time Andrew and I’ll look forward to seeing you at the White Water awards night in February.
You too Paddy take care mate