Mako shark by Henry Kelly

IFD: On the fifteenth of July this year I got a call from Pedro Walsh, from the sounds in the background I thought he was in the pub but it turned out that Henry Kelly had just caught and released an extremely rare fish in Irish waters, the Shortfin Mako Shark and now I understood the shouting.

Henry was fishing aboard the Silver Dawn, with gifted skippers Mick Dennehy and Pedro Walsh who had just added another new species to their already impressive tally of achievements.

This was only the second mako in Irish waters in recent years and only the fourth ever. The other records were; a 79kg from Kinsale in July 1965, a 45kg from Kinsale in August 1965, then again on Tom Collins boat from Union hall in 2013.

These spectacular fish were recorded with fair regularity off Cornwall from the 1950’s through to the 1970’s, although never numerous with just a few records each year, with the vast majority taken by the famous Vinnicombe brothers.  There was a long wait until the next British capture in 2013 with Andy Griffiths fish taken on Whitewater skippered by the one and only Andrew Alsop. 

It is very interesting to note that the fish tagged on Tom Collins boat was recaptured the following June, 80km NW of Lisbon, Portugal having travelled a distance on 1460km.

It is also interesting to note that three of the four Irish records on rod and line have come from Kinsale with one further unconfirmed report in August 1990 also from Kinsale.

Sources quoted  “Quigley, D.T.G., Hannon, G. and Collins, T. (2015) Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus
Rafinesque) in Irish waters. Irish Naturalists’ Journal 34(2): 146-148.”

Here Henry takes up the story of his momumental capture…

I was having a bad start to the year, I came out one morning to find my van had been wrote off by a hit and run driver which meant I had to cancel most of my fishing trips.

I thought I was going to have to cancel this one as well only Dan O’Kelly came to the rescue and offered to pick me up which I’m grateful for. So we were soon  heading back down to Kinsale to fish with Mick Dennehy and Pedro Walsh of

Also joining us on the trip was Mark and his brother Jay. I was hoping for a porbeagle or blues as it’s always a good days sharking with the lads.

Mark and Jay with a blue shark

With the chum sacks in the water we were soon getting some blue sharks. The wind was with the tide that day so we were drifting along at a fairly swift rate.

Dan O’Kelly with another blue

After a while things went quiet until I got a run on my rod that looked a bit more interesting and I hoped it was a porbeagle. Just as I was thinking what  is this?…. The shark came airborne out of the water by about ten feet then somersaulted back in!

We were all gobsmacked, we were just looking at each other thinking it couldn’t be???….. could it? At this point Dan mentioned this might be a mako Henry, but I just wanted to get it in whatever it was!

At first it came up quite easy and Mick soon had the leader in his hand when he confirmed it’s a mako! The shark on seeing the boat had other ideas and just took off making a blistering run.

This time it took me around the boat and I had to manoeuvre past one of the lads who was into a blue. It was going under the boat and I had to hold the rod out to get it back out.

The angry end of a mako shark

After Mick had called it as a mako the adrenaline was flowing and I was just concentrating that it wouldn’t get off.

Henry gets up close and personal

We eventually got a rope around the tail and brought her aboard. As she was safely aboard a big cheer went around the boat with everyone celebrating. I couldn’t believe it I was still in shock.

We took great care with the shark and after a few quick photos and measurements to confirm it was 84lb she was put back and swam off strongly. We were all shaking hands and back slapping it was a magic moment and I was glad to be part of Irish shark history with only the fourth mako caught on rod and line in Irish waters.

Mick Dennehy, Henry Kelly and James ‘Pedro’ Walsh

Me and  the lads usually have a tenner on the best shark of the day, we have done so since I first met Dan while sharking with Kit Dunne. I had come close a few times but never won it. It was a year to the day since I had lost my nephew who was like a brother to me so that just made the capture so special, it looks like I had finally won it and I couldn’t help but think he had played a part in it somehow. 

The drive home I was just on cloud nine, a fishing day I will never forget…..

About paddykeogh20

We are three anglers who enjoy all aspects of fishing. Whether we are blanking or catching were happiest on the bank or shore. If you like your fishing join us by watching our many trips and as we interview some top anglers along the way.....
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