Half-ton shark caught off Clare coast

 

A SWISS pensioner has brought ashore what he believes to be the largest ever fish caught by a rod and line in Irish and British waters off the Co Clare coast.

In what he yesterday described as “the fight of my life” in landing the sixgill shark weighing almost half a ton, Joe Waldis (70) said: “I still can’t believe it. When I go to sleep at night, I still can’t believe it. It was the fight of my life.”

More accustomed to fishing for pollock and other white fish, Mr Waldis described the 12ft 9in long shark as “a monster when I first saw it”.

Recounting the record catch, Mr Waldis said that for 35 minutes he had been struggling with the shark that first got hooked on his line with mackerel bait 60 metres beneath the surface in a stretch of sea a number of miles north of Loop Head on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Waldis said: “I didn’t know what I was dealing with until the shark came to the surface. It is like getting all your numbers in the Lotto to get a fish like this.

Owner of the Clare Dragoon charter boat, Luke Aston, of the Carrigaholt Sea Angling Centre said: “It’s unbelievable. We knew that Joe had hooked on to something big and we strapped him in and the fight was on.” Mr Waldis said: “It wouldn’t have been possible without Luke’s help. Nothing could have prepared me for the struggle I had with the shark.” It was too big to haul up into the boat and was towed by the Clare Dragoon into the Shannon estuary village of Carrigaholt.

Mr Aston said that the shark then had to be transported by forklift to a local quarry to be weighed on the quarry’s weigh bridge.

He said: “It came in at 480kg or 1056lb – the biggest ever fish caught by a rod and line” in these islands, Mr Aston said.

The previous record was for a Blue Fin Tuna that weighed 999 lb.”

Mr Aston said: “The fish is also the biggest sixgill shark ever caught on an 80lb line in Europe, which is the line we used.”

Mr Aston said that his boat caught a similarly sized sixgill shark in the same area last year, but wasn’t weighed after it was left back into the ocean.

Back out fishing in the Atlantic yesterday on the Clare Dragoon, Mr Waldis said that “the shark’s liver alone weighed 143 kilos. That gives you an idea of the size of the fish”.

Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group who saw the female shark, said yesterday: “To be able to land a shark that size with a rod and line is amazing.”

He added: “It goes to show how little we know of what is out there.”

Mr Aston said that locals can sample how the shark meat tastes at the local Sealyons shop in Carrigaholt where he said, they were giving out portions of the fish.

Sixgill sharks are deep water sharks and can be found all over the world in temperate and tropical regions. They are carnivorous predators feeding mainly on crustaceans, fish and some marine mammals.