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Friday, 19 August 2011

Looe and Shark Fishing

Just around the corner from Toyday in Looe is the headquarters of the Shark Angling Club of Great Britain which I walk past every day on my way to and from work.

Outside against their wall they keep a blackboard with an up to date count of the sharks that have been caught from Looe so far this season and it stands at 297.

Nowadays with conservation in mind the sharks are caught, their measurements are taken and weight estimated and then released back into the sea.

This is so different to when I was a young boy and growing up in Looe. Each morning men, and women who I thought were really brave would climb into the fishing boats and leave the harbour and steam for a couple hours out to sea stopping to catch some fresh mackerel for bait on the way.

The boats would fly the red SACGB flag to show they were off shark fishing for the day. Me and my friend Bob, both of us aged about ten, would stand on the Banjo Pier in the evening to watch them come back in and for each blue flag flying under the red one they had caught a small shark, but for each blue flag flying above the red flag then they had caught a big shark and were bringing it back to be weighed.

We would run down the quay to the fish market as the boats were landing and hauling the sharks up on to the quay. The sharks would of been over the qualifying weight of 75lbs and this would allow the fisherman to become a member of the SACGB. To Bob and me these sharks were a terrifying sight and it was amazing that we were allowed to touch them and poke them while they just lay there.

This is before the days of the 'Jaws' films so we hadn't really even seen a shark and certainly not had the chance to touch one and if we were really brave one of us would put his hand in its mouth and touch his teeth, but quickly. Even though sadly the sharks were dead they still had a menacing look in their eye and there were often screams when someone thought one of them had moved!

Those days are gone now and probably rightly so and conservation will help to keep the sharks for the future but if you want some of the fun that we experienced then try our Shark Attack game and see if you can get your fingers out of the Sharks mouth before he bites you.

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