Dr Stephen Hutchinson set off from Christchurch is his 25 foot Orkney heading to St. Catherines Deeps, south of the Isle of Wight. At 10am he started a drift, after setting up a chum trail consisting of minced mackerel, rainbow trout, bran and sardine oil. Two rods were set up, fishing mackerel flappers on de-barbed Owner 10/0 Super Mutu circle hooks attached to 480 lb 49 strand stainless steel cable and 400 lb wind-on mono rubbing leader with a hollow braid loop. This was attached loop to loop cat’s paw to double line tied with Australian plait. A 3 oz lead held it under a Redi Rig Mako Buster Release Float. The float was set to fish at a depth of 80 feet.
The boat end of the tackle consisted of a Penn International Stand-up Rod VS5010AWA 60 with Aftco wind-on rollers and a Winthrop Tackle Adjusta-Butt. Reel was a Penn International 50 VSW reel loaded with 530 m of 60 lb Momoi Diamond Mono, attached to Dr Huchinson with a Braid Blue-Fin Harness and Power Play Rod Belt.
After only 17 minutes there was a run on one of the baits. The fish took 500 yards of line. Although it moved quite slowly the sheer size of the fish made it unstoppable. There were no fast runs or leaping. The fish was just dogged and 30 lbs of drag was insufficient to move it. Only after clamping down on the spool with his thumb so that he could back the drag off and turn the pre-set up to maximum to get 45 lbs of drag was he able to make any progress. The boat drifted about five miles during the battle.
At around 2pm Dr Huchinson finally caught his first glimpse of the fish. However it was another hour before it was finally alongside the boat.
At 3:10pm the fish was measured at 112 inches nose to fork (estimated total length 199 inches) and released. According to published weight tables this gives a weight of around 630lbs. This is significantly bigger than the current British record of 323lbs caught in this area in 1982, but not as large as the biggest commercially caught thresher shark which was a massive 1,250lb landed in Cornwall in 2007. Dr Hutchinson’s catch is an incredible fish – and although older and wiser, it is still out there! More information on thresher sharks here.
For another shark story read here.