Local man's epic battle with big shark

A kayak angler from Moville has spoken of his encounter of a life-time with a Porbeagle shark off the coast of Malin Head.

Wednesday, 22nd June 2016, 12:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd June 2016, 2:12 pm
Kayak angler Graham Smith from Moville with the Porbeagle Shark. (Picture by Martin Moloney)

Graham Smith (38) battled for over three hours with the shark - a relative species to the Great White of ‘Jaws’ fame - after managing to hook the 300+lb beast on Saturday afternoon.

The epic struggle with the large adult female Porbeagle was captured by cameras mounted on the kayak and other seacraft nearby.

Mr Smith said he had been hoping for some time to catch an elusive Porbeagle, and had come prepared with the right equipment: “They come in every year for about six weeks or less. They were coming in to feed on coalfish and were on the hunt for fish on the outer reef,” he said.

Graham, who was along with a fellow kayak angler, had been fishing away with his shark lines out when the Porbeagle came past, and the drama unfolded in the waters off the coastline between the Tower at Bamba’s Crown and the area to the back of Malin Head Pier. What followed were several initially unsuccessful attempts to land the shark with bait. But it was only when they started to move and the shark gave chase that Graham managed to hook it.

“The fight was savage,” he said. “She was thrashing about, although for the first 40 minutes she wasn’t bothered. When I brought her up to the side of the kayak she was smashing the water and rammed the kayak.”

When asked whether he had any concerns about capsizing at the time, Graham, who has been kayak angling for nine years, said: “That’s all part of the fun.”

He added: “The conditions were perfect. In that particular place the tides and the winds can make for quite dangerous conditions, it can be a difficult spot to fish, so it was good to get a day with such good conditions.”

With some assistance from a group out monitoring basking sharks in the area, Graham managed to unhook and release the shark. And several days on, he is still feeling the effects of the mighty battle.

“My back and arm are wrecked,” he laughs. “It was really brilliant. The chances of ever hooking another shark like that are extremely small- I’d be lucky if I even see one like that again.”

Graham said when fishing people need to pay close attention to the tides, have the correct equipment and to make safety checks.

And local people and visitors needn’t be concerned- the porbeagle are not known for attacking people and in any case, their remote and largely inaccessible feeding areas off Malin Head are not places where people would be swimming or gathering.