One learns quite a lot that way. For example, one gets to recognise certain fishes and the way they travel a stretch, and I am sure that many anglers do not realise just how nomadic river fish can be. It is also difficult not to think of fishing even within the confines of home, surrounded as we are with fishing pictures on walls, photographs of fish, fishy ornaments, and suchlike. One photograph that stares at me from above the television is of Kay with a hammerhead shark. It is a reminder that it took 20 years after that event for me to catch one - although in my defence I have never particularly fished for them. Neither has Kay. That particular shark was caught when we were fishing for tuna but as the lady and the shark stare at me every time I watch 'telly', it has certainly limited the time I watch the damn 'box'. Apart from that, and used to the picture as I am, it still reminds me that we have had a lot of fun with sharks, and they certainly aren't the dour creatures that some anglers think. Not all species anyway!

How time flies! It's over 40 years since we went after blue sharks in Cornwall with a great skipper, Mike Digby. He was brilliant at finding most species of sea fish as he had great marks, and this was before Decca came along, which helped most skippers who found good marks gain the ability to put their boat in the same spots without the need to 'line-up' with the land, and therefore they could also increase the range at which they could fish with confidence. What a difference the electronics made to the catches. Many wrecks were found which produced enormous catches, and records fell because of it.

Mike fished out from Fowey, but the centre of shark fishing was Looe. I can well remember the dozens of blue sharks, there were probably hundreds, that were regularly displayed on the quay before being unceremoniously dumped. There must have been some big crabs. We were no different as we also killed those we caught, but as I recall, skippers did not want sharks in the area of their fishing, and so the general policy was to kill them. Around the world it has not changed much, although in a few areas sharks are not considered to be the danger or hazard they once were. Generally however, whatever one's mental attitude to sharks and their welfare may be, a big shark is an extremely dangerous animal that can kill you, and although I have watched the television programs where experts in their wetsuits are surrounded by sharks, generally not large ones I will admit, you would not get me in deep water with them. Even in fairly shallow water you can find fair sized sharks, and when wading for bonefish I've kicked a few to send them on their way.

I remember one place in the Bahamas where we were fishing in waist deep water as the tide rose, and I scared off a big nurse shark. That was enough for me, so the guide was requested to put us back in the boat. Next day we wanted to shark fish, so we caught a few bones for bait, and where did the guide take us, to the very spot that we had been wading the previous day. A few bits of bonefish scattered soon brought in blacktips, which I am told are dangerous and it did not take long to catch a few. A couple of them probably exceeded 100lb, so much larger fish could have easily swam in the depth we had been wading. I must admit that they do seem to scare easily though when they are in fairly shallow water, fish up to 100lb or so, but how really large ones would react I have no idea, and they would be very different if there was any blood in the water I'm sure.

The Bahamas? We have had terrific fun with the sharks out there. One of our bonefish guides has a good knowledge of where to find them within the reefs, as there are holes where depths range up to 20ft. or so. These always seem to hold a few good sized sharks of various species, but the usual catches are, blacktips, sand sharks, nurse sharks, lemons, mackerel sharks, and once we had a hammerhead from only about 15 feet of water. As soon as we have had enough of the arm waggling caper for the bonefish, we tend to want to find other quarry, and sharks, with all the varieties available, fit the bill nicely.

I experience confusion over the nurse and sand shark due to different guides calling the same species by one or other name. I have checked in a couple of books that I have mentioning sharks, and I can understand why perhaps. In one book about fishing in Florida it states that the nurse shark has no teeth (I think they have) whereas in another book devoted totally to sharks, the 'grey' nurse shark is described as dangerous with crooked teeth, and has been known to attack humans. The grey nurse shark is actually the sand shark, grey nurse being a name for the species common to Australia. Nurse sharks are ideal for anglers wishing to catch a big fish without much bother, as although they can be taken over 2001b, from shallow water, and consequently puts a bend in a rod, they are dull, sluggish fighters, making little headway against rod pressure, but by sheer size alone it can take a little while to bring to boat a heavy nurse. (There has to be a pun there?) As for sand sharks, as far as I know I have only caught small ones, up to 30lb, and they didn't fight much either.

But when it comes to some of the other species? We have hooked blacktips in shallow water and lost 100 yds of line in seconds. Much is made of the speed of bonefish, but without being able to measure it, I think blacktip sharks are faster, and my argument is that they can catch bonefish. I can appreciate that the many bonefish that blacktips have taken from me when I have been bonefishing from a boat, in deeper water than I would paddle, have all had the advantage that, as I was playing the bonefish it may have been slowed down somewhat. Whether or not those blacktips we have released have been lesser or greater blacktips I couldn't care less, as they have been great fighters, but only once have I had one jump, and that was in the Keys. They are sometimes called spinning sharks, as when they jump they spin, somewhat like those spinning porpoises that many of us have become ecstatic over, as the porpoises are often seen to be fantastically aerobatics as they jump and spin continuously as they travel. We have watched them many times when we have been sea fishing in warm climates. Lemon sharks too have given us some wonderful fun. Although they don't seem to have the speed of blacktips they do pull very hard, and run off a lot of line against plenty of rod pressure, and they are a beautiful looking shark, perfectly streamlined , soft as velvet to touch from head to tail (but not the other way) but then I guess most sharks are.

When in the Bahamas there is one shark that really turns us on. It inhabits the same areas as the aforementioned, but luckily for us it appears to be the most prolific. The guides call it a mackerel shark but I am fairly sure it is the mako. Not large compared to its cousins offshore, it is nevertheless quite large enough for us in our small bonefish skiffs. This particular shark in the area we fish rarely tops 150lb and is sometimes only about 60 to 80, but what a fighter. It makes searing runs near the surface and then tailwalks like a billfish. Often it only travels 20 or 30 yards before throwing itself from the sea in all manner of fashions. I'm sure I have had them come out backwards. Certainly they have crashed out full length, parallel with the surface, and sideways, and vertically, and then thrash the surface to foam. Fighting mostly near the surface they are classed as a game fish in the USA, and they well earn the title in my opinion. The last time Kay fished for them her first fish was very fast and big. Not less than 150 and probably nearer 200lb, it jumped 7 times before the hook came out. Usually she accepts this as just one of those things, (if you fish salmon you will always have some come unstuck) but with this one she was really peeved as she knew she would have been in for a real scrap. Get one over 100lb on reasonable tackle and you have got a fight on your hands. Get one over a couple of hundred? Man!

Our fishing method is extremely simple. If we can get a few baits to chop up and use as chum it undoubtedly help: bring them in, but even when we have been very sparing with 'freebees' it does not take long before a shark homes in on the bait. The bait is simply lowered over the side and allowed to drift a few yards from the boat. No balloons or floats, or allowing the bait to drift a long way off. I'm sure that these fish are quite happy to take a bait almost from your hand if you were stupid enough to try it, as they are not worried about the boat, or the angler, at all.

We use a small hook as we do not usually try to remove it from the fish's formidable jaw, but cut the wire as close to the mouth as we think is safe. I have a good stock of very strong hooks that we have used for tuna and billfish, that are small compared to the usual 10/0 and larger, and with only a piece of fish as bait, and an immediate strike, the shark is invariably hooked in the corner of the mouth. I don't believe that the little hook will interfere with its feeding in any way, and I may be wrong, but if hooked within the jaw there is the possibility of the hook being pushed out as the fish replaces its teeth. It is also sensible to have a wire trace of at least 12ft as some species roll in the trace, and may fray the line with their cycloid scales. I also have a link at the trace's end so that when I have released a shark by severing the wire hooklink, it is simplicity itself to replace with a new one. For this sort of fishing, 301b test is adequate, less if one feels competent, and although a few fish may top 200lb, with a boat, and fishing in comparatively shallow water as opposed to deep sea fishing, any competent angler will have plenty of fun and little fear of not winning the day.

Have fun!