Targeting Sharks from a Kayak Offshore
Targeting sharks from a small craft is not for the light-hearted nor the inexperienced. I will be the first to say it is dangerous and there needs to be much thought and preparation to ensure safety whilst targeting these big and powerful fish.
I have caught many Blue Sharks from charter boats and private boats over the last few years, including a stunning Blue of 167lb aboard Robin 'Chippy' Chapman's Bite Adventures out of Penzance in May this year. I am fairly well experienced in handling these fish and I am well aware of dangers these fish pose. Sharp teeth, abrasive skin, powerful muscular body and an unpredictable nature are just a few things to consider when handling these fish. On the small confines of a kayak the risk factor is escalated.
I was well equipped with the fishing gear and tackle. So it was just a case of putting myself where the fish are and putting the time and effort in to catch one. Targeting these fish often involves covering a fair amount of distance on the water and fishing offshore. This in itself requires a particular set of conditions to be done with relative safety. Calm water, low winds and favourable tidal conditions are needed for drift fishing for many hours whilst covering many miles. I am lucky if i see such conditions that coincide with a day off work more than 5 times a year. Drift fishing far offshore is not easy and is quite daunting. A full understanding of local tidal conditions and offshore tidal deviations is required. Conditions can change very quickly and when you are faced with a long journey back to shore you need to be in a position to get back to safety quickly. My Hobie Revolution 16 is the perfect tool for offshore fishing and i have complete confidence in travelling over long distances on it, even in less than ideal conditions.
Safety is paramount whilst kayak fishing and none more so than when you are offshore. If things go wrong you need to be confident in self rescue or be well equipped to communicate with rescue services. I am well equipped with suitable cold water clothing in the form of a drysuit, personal floatation in the form of a buoyancy aid, navigation devices including a GPS chart plotter to track my location and a magnetic compass as a back-up, communication devices in the form of a VHF radio and mobile phone, amongst several smaller pieces of safety equipment including bandages and plasters.
Even as someone who is confident on the water, with experience in fishing for and handling sharks and a fair few distance offshore trips under my belt, i was still apprehensive about the target i had set myself. That apprehension shoots adrenaline through my veins like nothing else and the very thought of catching a large shark from the kayak at the edge of my comfort levels excites me greatly! The angler inside of me was overriding the side of me questioning the whole thing.
A last minute change of plans late one night saw me frantically getting my gear ready and after a few hours sleep i was setting up in the dark on a cold December morning at the launch mark, ready to hit the water at first light. The water conditions were near perfect.
A long wait...
It didn't like the idea of being near the kayak and with a massive swipe of its tail it dived back down ripping braid from the reel with incredible power! I now knew what i was dealing with and nervous excitement raced through me. This was awesome!
That was my last fish for 2017 and what a fish it was. I have had an excellent year of fishing from both the kayak and the boat, with plenty of great fish, several new PBs and many species, but i think this just may be my favourite catch from the kayak to date..... Bring on 2018!