In the UK, the most desirable heavy weight sport fish would have to be the tope. These fast and ferocious members of the shark family have become the fish of the moment, with many anglers now turning their attention towards what has to be the ultimate shore fishing experience. Boat anglers are also reaping the rewards with numerous large fish being landed in many regions of the country during what has become a boom season.
Without doubt, the north and west coasts of Wales have produced the bulk of these shore caught fish, with boat catches off of Devon and Cornwall regularly making the angling news.
Dan Hawkins, skipper of Reel Deal based at Ilfracombe, is no stranger to shark fishing but has seen a record number of tope falling to his clients baits this summer. Infact, the shark action here has been so good that Dan was recently interviewed live by Good Morning Britain on ITV!
Ryan Wingfield has spent a number of years specialising in land based tope fishing. His dedication to the species has been relentless with much thought and attention paid to location, baits and tackle in his on-going quest to continually better his PB. Only last week, Ryan ventured out on to one of his favourite marks on the West coast of Wales and landed a potential Welsh record tope of 64lb 8oz.
This would have been a goliath of a fish from the boat, but to successfully land a fish of this size from the shore is truly admirable. Ryan’s fish took a mackerel bait presented on a pair of Varivas Big Mouth Xtra hooks.
The Isle of Man, traditionally a favoured haunt of the tope during the summer months has also been on great form with beach loads of anglers hooking and landing large numbers of tope during some frantic sessions. England International Julian Shambrook landed this fine example on a recent visit to the island.
Dean Booker and Gareth Griffiths of south Wales are known for finding the fish and stayed close to home in a recent bid to track down a tope. Dean landed a fine example that tipped the scales at over 37lb and Gareth a respectable fish of 27lb.
The thought of hooking a fish of this size and power from the shore is a daunting prospect so for anyone who is looking to chance their arm, Dean has provided an insight into the tackle that he and many other successful anglers use.
Terminal tackle can leave no margin for error and this is possibly the most crucial aspect of tope tackle. Hooks should be extremely sharp and stand proud of the bait to assist with a positive hook up. A wire trace of at least 150lb will offer sufficient resistance against the sharks razor sharp teeth that will cut through monofilament with ease.
Strong swivels such as the Varivas Power Crane add to the essential components needed to construct the rig, which as always, is a pulley. A heavier than usual leader of 100lb compliments the set up and will prevent the highly abrasive skin of the fish rubbing through the leader should it come into contact with it. Powerful rods and high capacity reels loaded with 25lb Varivas Yellow Sport complete this robust approach that will give you an excellent chance of a successful capture. Dean also stresses that even with all of this in place, you do still need luck on your side to be in with a chance.
Although no one can offer a definitive answer for the tope boom this season, it is more than likely as a result of the prolonged spell of incredibly warm weather that hit the UK during the early season. With this gradual increase in water temperature came the arrival of shoaling bait fish such as mackerel which in turn attracted the predatory species such as tope and other members of the shark family. It would seem that if you have yet to land a tope, there is a fantastic chance during 2017. Whether you choose to fish from shore or boat, there is no finer time to break your duck!