THERE are plenty of fish in the sea, but Limerick woman Charlene Dillon probably won’t ever land a bigger one than the 1200lb shark she caught at the weekend.
Charlene, 30, from Kileely, caught the impressive 15 foot Sixgill Shark while on an angling trip off the coast of Clare.
“We booked a sea angling trip with Luke Aston, skipper and owner of the angling boat Clare Dragoon. Luke operates the very successful Carrigaholt Sea Angling centre and he is the top angling boat on the west of Ireland for targeting sharks,” said Charlene.
“We set out from Carrigaholt pier on a beautiful sunny morning. It was my first time going sea angling from a boat even though I have been fishing all my life. I am a member of Limerick and District Anglers Association and I usually fish for pike and coarse fish,” she added.
The crew of the Clare Dragoon stopped at the mouth of the Shannon to catch some bait fish, mackerel and pollock, before heading out into the Atlantic in search of bigger fish.
“After the skipper anchored up the boat, we then got our tackle ready. Big fish needs big gear, so I used Penn 80lb class shark rod and Penn shark reel with 100lb breaking strain braid, which went to a 400lb monofilament leader with 400lb wire trace with a 6/0 shark hook baited with a 3lb pollock,” Charlene said.
“After a while, my rod started to tap and the reel screamed—it was game on. I struck the rod as hard as I could and then felt this huge pull against me and the skipper said we have a big fish on. I was clipped in to a special fighting harness so that you don’t get pulled over the side of the boat which could easily happen with a fish this size,” shed added.
Landing this monster fish would be no easy task, as Charlene soon discovered.
“It was about 13.45 when I struck the fish and it really felt like I was stuck on the bottom for a while. After a while the fish started to move a bit and now the real fight started to get it up from 200ft to the boat. It was a very tough battle with the fish coming up a bit and then dive back down again for me to start all over again. The skipper gave me great advice while playing the fish out and helped me to get control of the fish. This went on for over an hour, fighting the fish as it ran really fast, my back, arms, legs started to feel the pressure but I wasn’t giving up,” Charlene said.
“As the fish came up closer to the boat, once it saw the surface it went fighting back down to the bottom again but no way was I allowing this fish to bully me, it was the other way round! After another half an hour or so I finally managed to get the monster to the surface,” she added.
Although the crew of the Clare Dragoon were expecting a big fish, everyone on board was taken back by the sheer size of the shark.
“It was an amazing sight to see this fish half the size of the boat coming to the surface I was absolutely astounded at the sheer size of it. I was a bit nervous, it was like looking at a real life version of jaws, because it looked a bit like a Great White Shark at first,” Charlene said.
“The skipper measured the fish. It was about 15 foot long. It was too big to get into the boat. His estimation was between 1,200 and 1,300 pounds. These sharks are a very rare species and it is definitely a fish of a lifetime,” she added.
Charlene’s impressive catch has landed her in the record books, as well as making her a celebrity in the fishing world.
“I am the only lady ever to catch one of these sharks in Ireland and it is the biggest fish caught by a lady in Europe as far as I am aware. I’ve been getting a lot of messages and friend requests since the news broke,” said Charlene
“I was relieved and very happy to swim back down healthy and unhurt. I felt very proud of myself. I would like to thank Luke Aston fellow LDAA member Kevin Foley for helping me out on the day. And also all the help and tips i've learnt from everyone in the LDAA club,” she added.
Sixgills are a deep water shark. They can grow up to 26feet and mainly feed on fish, including other sharks, but they are also known to eat seals and even whales. They have been known to attack humans when provoked.