Angling legend John Wilson made ‘one of the most memorable catches of his career’ when he landed his biggest ever UK-caught fish - a huge 184lb blue shark.
The TV star proved that you don’t have to travel thousands of miles to foreign shores to experience heart-stopping shark fishing when he boated the specimen in the rough, unpredictable waters 20 miles out of Milford Haven on the West coast of Wales.
John, along with his nephew and Angling Times columnist Martin Bowler, fished on board ‘White Water II’ skippered by Andrew Alsop, doing battle with no fewer than 13 hard-fighting shark during their action-packed day session.
The predators were drawn to the charter boat thanks to a huge ‘chum trail’ made from pilchard oil and chopped fish that attracted fish up to eight feet long towards the group’s mackerel and pouting hookbaits mounted on size 10/0 hooks to 300lb wire.
With the oily slick doing its job it wasn’t long before John’s float, constructed from a one litre lemonade bottle, disappeared beneath the surface, seeing him engage in the first of many battles that lasted over 30 minutes at a time.
“I’ve been fishing all over the world and this is up there with the very best,” said John. “The quality of sport and the sheer number of shark was truly something to behold.
“It’s hard to explain the buzz you get when the rod buckles over and the line screams off the reel because you know you’re going to have a hell of a fight on your hands,” he continued. “It’s not all about the sheer ferocity and excitement of the fishing either because you can also see fin whales and schools of dolphin swimming by. This fishing is within the reach of any angler in the UK.” Blue sharks are commonly found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans and are drawn to areas off the West Coast of Wales, North Cornwall and Devon because of the Gulf Stream - the warm current that originates at the tip of Florida.
Skipper Andrew Alsop has been targeting sharks off of the west coast of Wales for 13 years, and despite landing 110 sharks in his last eight trips out of Milford Haven, he believes this is the tip of the iceberg.
“I’ve seen thresher sharks out here and it’s only a matter of time before Mako sharks and tuna make an appearance because of the number of bait fish and predators in these waters,” said Andrew.
“We’ve lost fish that have been way more powerful then anything we’ve ever hooked before and I’ve seen anglers having to put their rods down because the fish have fought every last bit of energy out of them.”