March 5, 2014 Last Updated 11:57 am

* Summer Sharks with the Irish Kayak Angling Club

2013 - What a summer it was for kayak fishing! We had catch reports flying into the club forum on a daily basis. IKA had numerous meets in every corner of the country throughout the summer. With so many anglers on the water there was bound to be some notable catches. John Griffin had a hand in some!



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Would you take on a shark from your kayak? Would you be prepared to take on a fish that could be bigger than your boat? It is something that should not be taken lightly! The more hardened kayak anglers have cut their teeth with the smaller shark species – It is almost commonplace to hear of tangles with tope. Some of the tope around the coast can run to big sizes and after tackling these it was only time that yakkers would target something even bigger.

The Big One! 

No shark battle caught the imagination of the masses as much as the epic battle between Graham Smith and a porbeagle shark off the Donegal coast. This porbeagle was no accidental hook up, this was the culmination of years of planning and fishing. Graham lands as many tope and spurdogs in a season as most of us land pollock and mackerel! His skills are something to behold. He was fishing a tope and spurdog session and had his porbeagle gear out the back of the kayak doing its thing. He had landed several spurs and tope already that day. He got a double hookup of spurs, one of which turned out to be a specimen, and while dealing with them his porbeagle rod screamed off into life. He tighten up the drag,struck into the fish, tried to slip his anchor butfailed and off he headed for America with the anchor in tow. Graham filmed some of the battle and it can be seen on Youtube along with the rest of his collection of amazing videos. This includes the infamous basking shark chasing his kayak which went viral around the world this summer.

Graham takes up the story via his catch report that he posted on the IKA forum:

“I was sitting there laughing my head off at the craic with the spurs when the Porgie rod started to peel off line.     .

I grabbed the rod and immediately I could feel the strength of it. My specimen spur was ejected over the side and battle commenced.
I was trying to set the hook at the start but the porgie had other ideas, he turned and charged at me at an impressive rate and passed under me and kept going, You never seen a kayak turn 180 so quick in your life.
And the bugger did this 4 or 5 times during the fight and he could fight! On a few occasions he just ran in a straight line towing me at 1.2 knots with the anchor out and against the tide. I was starting to wonder how big it was going to be!
During this battle a frantic call was made to my brother David and if you haven’t seen the video it went along the lines of – DAVID, DAVID I got a PORGIE I swear to f##k  .With that the porgie decided to butt in on the call and swim even harder  .
The call was dropped, but I had to call him back to get him to ask if there was any of the other lads about in boats to give a hand. But they were in the same predicament as me, excellent!
By this time I was managing to get the kayak closer to the porgie and I say the kayak closer to the porgie because at no time did I feel I was bringing the porgie to me, it was me hauling the kayak to him. But by now the anchor was causing problems so I had to cut it away. Mini jaws liked this and proceeded to tow me at 1.7knots against the tide, who needs a motor?
Oh I was in my element! Being towed around by a hooked shark for 29 minutes is fantastic!
By now he was starting to tire and I could see the yellow balloon that was stuck on the swivel at the top of my 10ft trace coming out of the water.  The most fantastic head shaking shape was starting to appear from the deep. I have to admit when you see mini jaws coming up like that you’d nearly lose control of your bodily functions. He looked class, head shaking and rolling like a mad thing.

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At this stage the camera had been turned on and off twice so I would not run out of battery or memory card. I had thought when he gets near I will turn it on for the grand finale. But I had not counted on how mental he could be, it was like trying to hold on to a bull that knows he’s about to about to become a bullock. So there was no chance of reaching the forward camera.
But I thought aha! I’ve another camera in the tackle box, I grabbed it only to see it was fogged up as it was left switched on in the box. I chanced the camera, about 3 seconds in the water only to get the porgie tearing off, pealing line at a good rate and all that was on the video was the yellow balloon going down, so then I threw the camera over the side to cool the lens. I even tried to get a picture on my phone but just managed to get a picture of my 50lb class bent like a banana. There was a short run of about 20 yards and I got him back to the kayak. He was only about 4 to 6ft under the kayak now and going ballistic. The camera was grabbed again but it was totally fogged up so with the trace ring in the top eye and my short arms not long enough to grab the trace with giving him slack he started to roll again and go mental. As he rolled I heaved as hard as I could to stop him and as I did the trace came off his nose and spun the hook out of his mouth. Porgie off and no picture!

But to be honest I was not that upset at losing the fish , I was more bothered that I had not a single picture of him and he was gone. He was a good 80 to 90lb fish.
But as the big bugger came off the hook he straightened himself up and swam ahead of me about 10ft and then turned and swam slightly up. I thought he was going to take the spur that was still over the side but no he carried on and looked very impressive as he swam away.”

Graham counts this as a lost fish, but to my mind it was very much caught once he got the trace swivel to the top ring on more than one occasion. I’m calling it a good quick kayak release! (Video link at end)

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Southern Smoothies

Graham had never caught a Bass nor a Smooth hound in Irish waters so when he said he was holidaying in Courtown Co. Wexford with the family we decided to attempt to rectify that. I borrowed a kayak from another member for Graham and we organised a meet at Cahore, Co. Wexford. In all we had five kayaks on the water. the plan was for an evening session with us all launching after tea. We started out lure fishing for bass and within 10 minutes I had the first bass of the evening while trolling a feed shallow. Many boat anglers do not rate trolling as a consistent method for catching bass. I can imagine this being the case as the noise of the motor must be a factor. There is no such noise from a stealthy kayak. Graham came over to check it out and I gave him a feed shallow and off he went. He hadn’t gone 100 meters and he had a bass. 10 minutes later I had another. I put a call out to the rest of the lads on the VHF radio and within minutes they were swarming in for some action. I got another bass and so did Graham and Joe Stenning picked up another two later on while Graham and I headed out for deeper water to try for Smooth hounds as it began to get dark. We were using hard backed crab which a couple of kids caught for us at the pier. We headed out to about 30ft of water and we anchored up together on my anchor. I was quickly into a smoothhound and proceeded to catch another 2 after that over the next hour. I was using a Shimano Vengence 20-60g lure rod with a fixed spool reel, a set up that I normally use for pollock. The rig was a simple flowing trace with a 4oz lead and a single but sharp 3/0 hook. The smoothhounds gave a great account of themselves on the light gear and they were a nice size too. It was beginning to look like Graham wasn’t going to get one, the tide was picking up and with that it was starting to get a little rough. Then all of a sudden I heard a yahoo! and looked up to see a bent rod and a big grin on his face.

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Top of the Country Tope

To return the favour Graham invited me to Donegal and it just so happened that I had a family holiday booked in Donegal already for the end of August. So it was game on. I arrived to Moville to have a go at the Tope on Lough Foyle. I had never landed a Tope on a kayak before so this was all new to me. Fellow IKA members James Leahy and Joe Murphy joined us. James had travelled up from Kerry the day before and had fished that morning with no luck. We had a small window of opportunity as there is a very strong tidal flow on the Foyle. We had to fish over slack water  so it was an hour or so either side of low water fishing maximum. We picked up some whiting as bait on the way out to the middle of the channel. Graham was first off the mark with a nice male Tope of about 20lb. He missed another one or two runs and then it was my turn. I was using my Penn fixed spool reel on a 20lb class rod. I had an elastic band fitted to the spool as a line clip. I was waiting impatiently when suddenly the line was flying off the reel. I flicked over the bail arm and the line went solid. I love the sound of line screaming off a fixed spool reel and this tope did plenty of that. Seconds after I hooked my fish I heard James who was 40 meters to my right shout “I’m in too!”.


Soon I had the fish circling under the kayak and making shorter runs. Then I saw it surface beside me, it was about 25lb weight, angry and it was very definitely a shark. I looked to Graham for guidance, he shouted over, grab the trace, open bail arm, put rod away, grab the pectoral fin and pull it up onto your lap and hold on tight. I noticed that James was very interested in what Graham had to say. This was a first for him too. We both landed our fish safely and quickly unhooked them. I was able to disconnect from my anchor and use my motor to pull alongside James for a quick group photo. Both fish swam off without a bother. We continued fishing, I missed another 2 runs, Graham had another tope and James got 2 more. Joe blanked unfortunately, but that’s fishing.

To find out more about this sport and all that goes with it, come join us on the water or on the club website and forum at You’ll also find us on facebook and on youtube where we have loads of entertaining videos from previous meets.

Video of Grahams tussle with a porbeagle:

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