I have often contemplated targeting Tope from the kayak but have never got round to trying for them. News was in of Tope showing on the North Cornwall coast so hatched a plan to dedicate a session targeting them. A bit of research online into rigs, gear and conditions and I was ready. I spent the evening before tying tope traces – 8/0 Mustad o'shaughnessy hook double crimped to 12” of 100lb Sakuma coated Wire biting trace attached via a swivel to 5ft of 80lb Fluorocarbon rubbing leader. If I hooked one I wanted to land it!
Elliot and myself set off to fish the evening tide, Elliot on the Black Tempo and me on the Abaco. It wasn’t long before the Jaws theme tune was being played through the car speakers! Then the Ghostbusters theme tune came on which we aptly renamed ‘Tope-busters’ - we aint afraid of no Tope! We really weren’t expecting to catch any but we were definitely in the mood for shark fishing!
We paddled out against gentle rolling swells and dropped mackerel flappers down onto mixed ground. I was using my 12-20lb Ugly Stik Braid rod, Abu 6500 loaded with 20lb braid with a 40lb leader. It wasn’t long before my weight became snagged. I managed to pull it free and wound up to check the bait. As the bait came into view a large grey shape followed! Next thing a Tope was on the surface chewing my bait…. It swam off at speed and I waited a few seconds before hitting into it… the rod hooped over and line poured off the reel, then it went slack. The fish had spat the hook. Damn! A minute or two later and Elliot was getting bites on the bottom and was soon connected to a hard fighting tope. Run after run kept Elliot smiling and after 10 minutes or so a Tope of around 20-25lb appeared at the surface. Gloves went on and the Tope swiftly pulled aboard and after unhooking and a few photos was released back to the depths. Elliot’s cheers of joy would have been heard for miles!!
Right my turn… my bait was sent to the bottom and after a few minutes I was getting sharp heavy bites. The tope grabbed the bait and tore off at speed, I let it go for about 5 seconds before hitting it hard, then all hell broke loose. Line was stripped from the reel as the fish ran along the bottom. I gradually managed to bring it to a stop and turned the beast.
Several powerful runs and about 15 minutes later we got sight of the fish. Hell this ones bigger than the last!! My heart was pounding with fear and excitement as I grabbed the wire trace and the topes pectoral fin and hauled the fish over my lap. The power of the fish was unreal and keeping the fish calm was a battle! I struggled to lift it and we both estimated it at around the 40lb mark (later confirmed by calculation using length and girth measurements). My first Tope! I was over the moon!! A few quick photos before it swam off strongly back to the bottom.
Elliot caught himself two more Tope in quick succession, one of around the size of the first and a bigger one at around the 30lb mark.
He kindly retired his rod to allow me a chance to catch up as my bait hadn't been down so that i could help him boat, unhook and photo his fish. First up was a beautifully marked Bull Huss of around 7-8lb.
A little wait longer and a bigger fish had found the bait. It played around with it for a short time and then disappeared. I slowly wound up to inspect the bait when the rod bent double and once again line poured off the reel at speed!! It had followed the bait up and nailed it!! This is awesome!! The fish took maybe 100 yards of line on the first run and kept changing direction multiple times towing me with it! This fish was angry. My arms were starting to ache as I kept the rod locked over to keep control of the fish. The fish eventually began to give up and a lovely Tope of around the 30lb mark soon arrived at the side of the kayak wrapped up in rubbing leader. I grabbed the line ready to boat the fish when the tope unravelled and with a couple of powerful surges was heading back to the bottom. I couldn’t stop myself laughing at the shear power and speed of the run and in around 5 seconds the fish had reached the bottom again – it had only taken me 15 minutes to get it to the surface in the first place! Another 10 minutes or so and the fish was mine – this was amazing fishing and was quickly becoming one of the best sessions ever.
There was just enough time for one more fish. Elliot was occupying himself with the mackerel tinsels whilst being ready to assist landing and photographing, as I had done when he had hooked his tope. Within 5 minutes I had another searing run. “Tope on!”, This fish felt slightly smaller than the 2 previous fish but fought admirably all the way to the surface after a few spirited runs. A nice Tope of around 20-25lb to finish the evening.
We paddled back to shore smiling and laughing all the way whilst singing ‘Tope-busters’. We had often spoke of catching decent sized sharks from the kayak but never really expected to catch 6 Tope, 3 a piece, in a short evening session. Elliots best went around the 30lb mark and mine the biggest of the session at around the 40lb mark – not bad for my first Tope! We were fishing for around 3 hours so considered that one of the best sessions we have ever had.
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