Living in the Wicklow area of Ireland and having been fishing since childhood, if it has fins I’ll have a go at catching it. A few years back, when looking for a new challenge, I invested in a kayak that I rigged out for fishing by adding rod holders, echo-sounder, anchor trolley, Visi-pole and a few other bits and pieces.
This summer I decided to launch from one of my local beaches for a couple of trips, knowing that large tope start to run this area at this time of year.
I paddled out, jigging Hokkais for fresh bait that had been in short supply. Happily, I managed to secure enough for a couple of hours’ tope fishing and soon dropped anchor and baited up.
Bad Run Of Luck?
Two dropped runs later and I was wondering if it was going to be my day as I lowered my last bait to the bottom. On the next screaming run I flipped the reel into ear and leaned into the powerful fish. It took a lot of effort to stop the initial dash and turn her, but after a ten minute fight she was lying beside the kayak and I haul her on board to release the hook that sat neatly in the side of the mouth.
After a quick photo she was returned to the water, swimming off strongly. If she was not 40lb she could not have been far off it.
The next trip, though, saw me outdo myself. Fishing from the same mark and with fresh bait again scarce, I had been on the water for a couple of hours without a sign of a fish.
It was very hot and sunny, and I contemplated heading home when a tope picked up the bait.
I let her run a while before engaging the reel. The rod buckled and inside a minute I knew this was a far bigger fish than the previous one. She ran twice as far and gave me a lot of trouble as I tried to get her to the side of the kayak. After fifteen minutes she was beaten, hauled on board with huge difficulty and the hook was removed while she posed for the camera.
My 30lb gear had been tested to the limit and a lighter boat rod would not have landed this beast. As for her weight, I have no idea. I’m 6ft 2in and a strong lad but it took Herculean effort to land this tope.
People who have seen the pictures put her weight at anywhere from the upper fifties to the nineties. Take a good look and decide the weight for yourself.