After been chasing blue sharks around the country for the last few years, myself and a few friends decided we wanted to go after a Porgie. We anglers are never happy with what we are catching and just want bigger and better all the time and this is the case in this instance.
We had seen the pictures of porgies knocking about on Facebook and these sharks looked formidable and just down right dangerous. After doing some research and after a good few chats with Paddy on the subject it was clear that it was not going to be easy.
They seem to be far more unpredictable that the blues and some blanking was going to be on the cards as working out their movements around the coast of Ireland was not going to happen on the first trip.
Our first attempt was on Kit Dunne’s boat of Wicklow charters out of Kilmore quay at the time.We travelled out 30 miles into the Irish sea and gave it a go. We did not get any that day but had some nice blues which were the first sharks on Kit’s boat so there was a great atmosphere on the boat and I was glad to be part of that day. The second attempt was again on Kit’s boat this time out of Wicklow again we went miles out but this time a Spurdog and a Tope was all we could tempt into the slick and onto our baits.
Then we tried Galway bay on John Fleming’s boat. The first time in fairness was mainly for Blues and we had some nice ones, well Rory did the rest of us blanked. The second time we tried a different spot closer to the shore, but sadly nothing came of it.
Earlier this year we tried a mark with Kinsale Charters that had produced Porgies for Mike and Pedro last year on their first attempt at them. So we thought it would be a good place to start again they eluded us. We will be back to give that spot another go.
It was becoming very clear that this project was not going to be easy. We needed some schooling on these creatures. Further chats with Paddy on the subject lead me to contact Andrew Alsop of White Waters in Milford haven. Not an easy man to get a booking with due to his reputation and long history of catching all manner of sharks that are available in ours waters.
Thankfully he had two mid week days open in late may of this year. So we booked our ferry and started counting the sleeps til our departure from Rosslare.
Finally the day arrived and we headed off to Rosslare to get the ferry to Fishguard. We travelled with Stenaline to Fishguard as the times of the Irish Ferries to Pembroke sailings did not suit us. Pembroke was a shorter drive to Milford but the drive from Fishguard was only 30 mins or so, so it was not an issue.
We had booked into a B&B in Milford run by Gareth and Trish Hopkins as advised by Andrew. I always find it better to book with someone the skipper advises as they will normally be understanding if you have to cancel due to bad weather.
Gareth been an avid an experienced angler himself is well versed in what the sea can do and won’t hold you accountable if you have to cancel. It’s also great to be able to sit down and have a good auld fishing chat with someone that understands your madness. Needless to say the apartment we had was spot on and only a few minutes from the dock and the Hopkins were great hosts.
After a comfortable nights sleep and a quick breakfast we did the short drive to the dock to meet Andrew and load up our gear. Andrew supplies all the gear you need but we did bring our own rods and reels. Shortly after we were heading down through the haven, (which is basically a 10 mile long fjord ) at a rate of knots and when I say a rate of knots I mean a rate of knots.
The White Water two is a impressive vessel to be reckoned with. The boat is less than a year old, its a catamaran powered by two 300 hp 2 stroke outboards, yes you read that right 2 strokes. These new 2 ST engines are more powerful than 4 ST, cleaner and more efficient. I thought 2 ST were taking off the market, how wrong was I.
Blowing down the haven with Iron maiden blasting from the wheel house is something I won’t forget anytime soon.
In total we travelled 50 miles out and it only took 2 hours. As we got close to the mark that Andrew wanted to fish we slowed down and started to make the chum. Andrew had all the fish we needed for both the hook baits and the chum.
Not long after the chum bucket was in the water and our slick had started, so we set about getting the rods ready. Although we had our own traces with us we decided to use the traces that Andrew supplied as A. He has far more experience at this that we had and B . He doesn’t charge for them. Plus I just wanted to see his ones so we could see where we had gone wrong with oursit.
It’s all a learning curve at the end of the day and we have a lot to learn about fishing for Porgies. Needless to say over the coarse of the next two days many question’s were asked and answered.
We had decided to fish our own rods til one of us caught a fish then that person would sit down and let the other fish on all the rods til he caught one then we would go back to just fishing our own rods.
My second rod was only in the water and the balloon was no more than 10ft from the boat when i noticed the balloon slightly tip then again, then it move against the tide only a few inch’s but enough to let me know that it was a fish plucking at the bait. I had heard that Porgies are fussy takers , not like blues.
I was unsure what way or time to strike the fish so i quickly conferred with Andrew, who stepped me through it. basically I didn’t know to hit it or just push the lever drag forward. The fish started taking line so I pushed the lever forward as instructed and then I felt contact and the fight began.
Now this is what I had been waiting for, I had been told that the fight is completely different than blues so I was not sure what to expect. In no time the fish was heading around the boat maybe in an attempt to get me under the props so Mark and Andrew started lifting rods so I could pass underneath, then the fish turned around and when back the way she came. Then a massive nose dive and she headed straight for the bottom.
Although I was quite sure it was a Porgie we couldn’t rule out a blue at this stage and there was some debate/uncertainty about what species of Shark it was. I knew it wasn’t massive but I did not care as long as it was my first Porgie, size was not important in this instance.
A few more long deep runs and I got some line back on the reel and we started to see some colour, then she came into sight and it was a Porgie, not a monster but a Porgie at last. This was the first time for me to see one let alone catch one so I was well happy. She made one more run and she was beat. A few nervous moments after the leader was grabbed, the fish was lassoed quite expertly by Andrew and then pulled on board by himself and Mark.
Although I was very confident that Andrew could boat the fish I always feel a few moments of helplessness when I’m standing there holding the rod just in case the fish bolts again. Thankfully my momentary feeling of nervousness and helplessness abated quickly when my prize was safely on board.
All that was left to do was get some photos and get her back in the water, so after some quick schooling on how to hold them we got a few shots and released her. Mission accomplished !!!
I forgot to measure her in the whole drama of the situation. But I know the girth was around 35 inch’s. How I know this is, during the fight Andrew had noticed that the fish had a box strap wrapped around its neck. He said that it was about the fifth Porgie that he had seen like this, but never seen a blue shark with one.
I can only imagine that they are probably more inquisitive and curious than blues and end up swimming into them. Which would suggest they are far more intelligent than blues and would part explain why they are far harder to get a hook up from. Anyway we removed the strap, which had become embedded in the fish’s skin and flesh.
Later after realising that I had not measured her I had the brain wave to measure the strap and it was 33 inch and maybe allowing 2 inch for the depth it was cut into the flesh of the Shark. Either way Andrew estimated that it was around 80lbs. Not a monster by Porgie standards but I’m happy to start with that and the fact that is was the first shark on the White Water 2 of 2017 and the first shark of Andrews twentieth year in Chartering for sharks I was honoured.
Unfortunately that was all the action we had for the rest of that day and the next day apart from one of the baits having bite marks on it the first day.
So the time was spent talking about all things Sharky and trying to get that perfect photo of a dolphin jumping which always eludes me, as was the case this time as well.
We did have a Minke Whale circle the boat for a while which was interesting. All in all I think a lot of patience is required for Porgie fishing, But the rewards are there and I can’t wait til my next encounter with one.