Anglers Tips on Sharks and Shark Fishing
Five species of shark are fairly common in our waters. They are the basking, blue, mako, porbeagle, and thresher sharks. However, other species have been reported, such as the hammerhead, humantin, and six-gilled, and there is one isolated instance of the man-eating white shark.
Of the five species mentioned, only four can be caught by rod and line, for the basking shark feeds solely on plankton and cannot be hooked by means of a bait.
Commonest of all sharks in our waters is the blue (Prionace glauca). It seems to appear in large numbers west of Portland Bill but rarely appears farther up the Channel. This species is also common on the south and west coasts of Ireland and has on occasion been seen off the west coast of Scotland. The blue is the shark which has made the sport of shark fishing so popular in Britain. Its general colouring is blue and its underparts are white. Though it is known to reach 7 m (25 ft) in length, one around 1.5 m (5 ft) is more likely to be encountered by the angler. Fish of 34 kg (75 lb) and upwards are certainly specimens.
The blue shark is very common throughout the entire western seaboard of Europe and is found in great numbers in the Mediterranean, certainly as far east as Cyprus. It is a poor fighter compared with other species, although if taken on light tackle it will provide far more sport than most people anticipate.
Nearly all blue sharks are hooked near the surface, where they prey upon the schools of pilchard, mackerel, and herring. Occasionally the odd one will be found in deep water, but more likely than not it has followed a bait down.
The mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) is a real fighter and will very often leap high in the air when being played. In New Zealand, where it grows to a very large size, it is often referred to as the leaping shark. This fish is found in most parts of the world, and, although it has never been established, there is a distinct possibility that there are two entirely different species in the Pacific and the Atlantic.
The mako is a mid-water feeder and is often found near rocks, where pollack, pout whiting, and possiblyprovide it with a very much larger meal than smaller fish such as pilchards.
The porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) is very similar to the mako in appearance and in habits. Although several methods of identification, such as examination of the positioning of the fins, are reliable, without any doubt at all the easiest and most accurate method is to examine the teeth. The teeth of the mako are long, large, and irregular and assume a criss-cross pattern; the porbeagle’s are regular with several rows one behind the other. Occasionally one comes across a porbeagle with a tooth out of line, midway between two rows. This is caused by the loss of a tooth from the front row and the forward movement of the teeth behind. A porbeagle may have as many as seven rows of teeth, and every time one of the front ones comes loose a new one moves forward to take its place. In turn all seven teeth shift into their new positions.
Generally speaking, the porbeagle is larger and deeper in the body than the other species. It appears to be an Atlantic fish, for there are few reports of its being caught in any other part of the world.
The porbeagle thrives on mackerel and in fact is also referred to in some countries as the mackerel shark. However, it is not averse to any other bait, provided it is fresh. In the Mediterranean, especially around Malta, where this species is caught in great numbers, the professional fishermen bait their hooks with liveand fish at thirty to forty fathoms in an overall depth of three hundred fathoms.
The porbeagle, like the mako, is to be found in mid-water and close to rocks. Usually it likes deep water and when hooked will make a very fast and strong run in a downward direction. Again, like the mako, it needs to be fully played out before bringing to the.
Far and away the rarest visitor to our shores is the thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus). This vicious monster can sometimes be seen on the surface in fine weather flaying the water into foam with its scythe-like tail as it rounds up a shoal of mackerel or other fish. In comparison with the tail, the second dorsal and anal fins are small The thresher, like the porbeagle, grows to great size.