A few years ago, catching large sharks in the Irish Sea became a bit of an obsession for Dr. Nick Fahey and two of his friends—but they weren’t using conventional tackle to reel them in. Instead, the experienced fishermen caught the sharks using extreme fly-fishing gear, which wasn’t exactly an easy pursuit.
It turns out catching sharks with fly rods has a pretty steep learning curve, so it took several outings before Dr. Fahey and his friends actually boated any sharks. Eventually, though, they became quite good at this unconventional fishing method, and even brought in close to 100 blue sharks one day. That was fun, but it wasn’t enough. These fly fishermen wouldn’t be satisfied until they caught the elusive (and rather large) porbeagle shark.
The long-awaited battle finally took place on June 21, 2014. After an initially slow morning, Dr. Fahey’s line went tight and felt like he had “hooked a high-speed locomotive.” This was it. His porbeagle. Dr. Fahey fought the 198-pound shark for close to two hours in what he describes as the most grueling sporting challenge of his life.
“Every time I got some line back the big fish would just take it back again. My arms were burning like they never had before and the 14-weight sage rod was bent at 90 degrees. Slowly though, I started getting in more line and the shark would take less line. I was actually winning. Eventually we started to see color as I finally got the fish to the surface and then got the fish to the boat. The fight had taken it out of me though—we were at a stalemate, the fish and I—I couldn’t get this enormous porbeagle close enough that the skipper could grab the leader and finally boat the fish.”
His rod broke in half as the massive fish made a last-ditch attempt to escape, yet Dr. Fahey still prevailed. He won the epic fight and became the unofficial UK record holder for the largest fish caught on a fly rod.
“I marveled at the fish, a big porbeagle. The menacing predatory appearance of this Leviathan makes the blue sharks we have been catching up until now look like Labradors. I sat down and contemplated what we had achieved, and I mean we as it had been a team effort. I caught another 100-pound blue shark later that day, but my arms were so sore I stopped fishing as I was literally scared I might hook another really big shark. I just didn’t think I would be able to cope. We didn’t realize at the time what we had achieved but as with all fishy tales, the news spread fairly fast and the next thing you know I am being told this fish is probably the biggest fish ever caught on a fly-line in the whole of Northern Europe.”
Irish Sea Blue Dog
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