A young angler had the fight of his life when he hooked a 23-stone shark.
Caught 27 miles offshore, Bradford angler Ben Kitchingman was on board his uncle Rich Ward’s boat Shy Torque when he hooked the porbeagle shark, which measured almost eight feet in length.
The shark took the bite at around 10.40am and Ben was wrestling with it until 2pm. Acting without a harness, Rich said both he and Ben’s father had two cups of tea and watched on as the young angler ran around the boat as he attempted to reel in the shark.
A 21-year-old rugby player, Ben had his hands full with the shark and Rich said: “The spool was getting so low we actually had to drop anchor and chase the fish.
“They are phenomenally powerful - imagine watching a Second World War film and seeing a torpedo go through the water.”
“It’s like a boxing match, you think he’s spent after the first round but it’s almost like he’s saving his strength.”
Shy Torque is designed for general angling but Rich has been hosting shark fishing trips for the past eight years.
“As an angler, it’s a rush that you will never get unless you go big game fishing across the globe,” he said. “It literally is big game fishing in the North Sea.”
Every trip this year has seen a shark brought on board, in contrast to last year when they didn’t hook any.
The first trip of the year actually proved to be a record-breaker, with three landed including a biggest-ever 360lb specimen.
The sharks are tagged and released. When brought on board a high pressure hose is placed in its mouth to provide oxygen and a black cloth draped over its eyes. The darkness relaxes the fish and allows the anglers to measure the animal and place a tag at the base of its dorsal fin.
The whole process takes about two minute and Rich said he has never had a shark go “belly-up”on him.
“When we get a shark on board it’s pandemonium,” he said. “The last thing I want is a shark dying on deck, it would kill me.”
The porbeagle, or Bonito, shark feeds primarily on mackerel. This year there has been a plentiful supply of the prey fish and every trip on Shy Torque has seen a shark brought on board.
Yet strangely, despite a plentiful mackerel supply, last year, there were no sharks.
This sort of mystery is why Rich and other shark fishermen log the details and tag sharks before releasing them. This information is then sent to the University of Southampton where it is analysed and compiled.