Get hooked: fishing on Scilly has never been so good

Posted on Jul 10th 2014
Blue shark in Scillonian waters

Blue shark in Scillonian waters. You can take shark fishing trips from mid-June to mid-September

Summer is here and there’s no better time for a spot of fishing on Scilly. Whether it’s the thrill of deep sea shark fishing or the buzz of the fight when wrestling for wrasse on-shore, our winter storms earlier this year have made 2014 a bumper year to get hooked on fishing. 

The thrill of shark fishing

Shark fishing is a big draw to locals and holiday makers alike. Once or twice a week, Joe Pender, one of the St Mary’s Boatmen, leads a 5-hour round trip to the south of the islands aboard Sapphire. Throughout July and August you are almost guaranteed to hook blue sharks which, nose to tail, can be 8-foot long. Beagle sharks are often spotted too.

Joe has been working with the Southampton University Oceanography department for the last 15+ years – recording the weights, sex and locations of the sharks, noting the sea temperature and tagging them so that if they are recaptured, they can monitor the shark’s growth and migration habits. The furthest-known migration by a shark found in Scillonian waters had journeyed from Sierra Leone – some 3,000 miles!

Mackeral is used as bait and Joe will put out four rods at a time. “The mackerel slick and smell is enough to attract the sharks but they can be quite cagey,” he says. “They like a bit of a play fight so there’s a bit of artistry and skill required when getting them on board deck. It’s a real thrill to see them at close range – you have to be careful though, as they have sharp teeth, and we need to be efficient in our monitoring so that they are returned to the water within three to four minutes.”

Fishing from the shore

If on-shore fishing is more your thing, then we have it on very good authority that fishing conditions for wrasse (along with golden grey mullet, mackeral and pollock) from the Scillonian coast is considered some of the best in the country, largely thanks to the year-round warmer waters and the vast virgin fishing territory.

There are a number of top sheltered spots, making it a year-round hobby. Bar Point and Peninnis on St Mary’s are considered optimum locations as well as many spots around Tresco Island.

“2014 is proving to be an amazing year,” says lure fishing enthusiast Del Thompson who works for Tresco Island and writes the ScillyLureAddicts blog. “The clarity of the water following the winter storms has played its part.  Many large rocks were moved by the strength of the waves, stirring up fine particles and sediment – ripe for creating the best fishing conditions we have had in years on Scilly. I have caught are some of the largest wrasse this year – some 7.5lb, and I have also caught 14lb pollocks and 9lb mullets from the shore.”

There are many boatmen who offer fishing trips and there are two chandleries – on St Mary’s and Bryher. Rods for shark fishing are supplied.

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