Stunned angler reels in 5ft 6 tope shark off the Devon coast

Angler goes fishing for mackerel off the Devon coast – and is stunned to reel in 5ft 6in tope shark

  • Kyle Bishop reeled in one of the biggest tope sharks ever caught off Devon shore

An angler who went mackerel fishing off the Devon coast was stunned when he reeled in one of the biggest tope sharks ever caught while fishing from the shore.

Kyle Bishop, 36, hit new heights when he cast off from rocks at Ilfracombe, Devon and caught a tope that measured 5ft 6ins in length and weighed 61lbs 9ozs.

The roofer described the catch – which was the biggest tope caught off north Devon in 13 years – as ‘the fish of a lifetime.’ 

Tope sharks can grow to around 7ft long, but despite their menacing appearance they are harmless to humans.

They are common in UK waters but the species has been classified as critically endangered as its global population has declined by 88 per cent over the last 80 years.

Kyle Bishop, 36, hit new heights when he cast off from rocks at Ilfracombe, Devon and caught a tope shark that measured 5ft 6ins in length and weighed 61lbs 9ozs

Mr Bishop, who has been fishing for 15 years, recalled how it took just 15 minutes to get a bite on his mackerel bait during his momentous fishing trip with friend Tyler Roffey.

He said he realised immediately it was a big one when his rod bent over double and the line started running away. It took ten minutes to reel it towards his landing net.

The catch was so big that both Mr Bishop and Mr Roffey had to lift it into a weighing sling. After posing for an obligatory photo, the angler returned the tope shark to the sea safe and well.

He said: ‘I knew straight away it was a big fish when I saw my rod in full arch and the line reeling off. It must have run with for about 30 or 40 seconds with the line. It did feel heavy as I started to reel it in.

‘When my mate went down to the net I had to go down and help him as he was struggling to lift it by himself. It felt like it weighed a tonne. It was probably the same size as me and I’m 5ft 6ins.

‘The bigger tope fish are a bit more laid back when they are caught and don’t thrash about as much but even so, I made sure my hands were well away from the business end of it.’

He added: ‘I couldn’t fish anymore after that as I felt sick with adrenaline.’

Despite breaking records in Devon, Mr Bishop’s catch is still quite a way off the existing record for a shore-caught tope, which stands at 82lbs.

Mr Bishop is a member of the Combe Martin Sea Angling Club.  A club spokesman said: ‘This year is proving to be an exceptional year for predators with large amounts of bait fish in the region and some excellent shark fishing off-shore.

‘Congratulations to Kyle on landing such a superb specimen and getting an excellent picture of the fish.’

Experts say there is currently an abundance of larger predatory fish in coastal waters, drawn closer in by the healthy number of prey fish like mackerel.

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