Ever since he was big enough to hold a fishing rod, Mark Turnbull has dreamed of the ultimate catch...
Now, the dad-of-two is celebrating after reeling in an 8ft porbeagle shark – the biggest fish he’s ever caught.
The 54-year-old, from Whitburn, was fishing 18 miles off the coast of Sunderland with his pal John Fothergill on Saturday when he hooked the prize catch.
The civil engineer has been fishing since he was just four-years-old and regularly goes out on his 37ft catamaran boat, the Taurus, to see what’s lurking in the water.
He said: “I knew that porbeagles were around here and I wanted to try and catch one – they’re renowned as a fantastic sport fish.
“They’re also known as mackerel sharks and it’s mackerel season so I had plenty to use as chum. We went out about 18 miles and dropped two lines, one about 18ft down and another 35 to 40ft down. We were out where there’s a depth of about 70 metres and we were close to a wreck. The shark bit after about an hour-and-a-half.”
The biggest fish I’ve ever caught before this was a 200lb goliath grouper when I was in Florida, so this is a big leap up on my personal best.Mark Turnbull
Mark was then locked in a two-hour battle to reel in the 8ft-long beast, which he estimates weighed around 450 to 550lbs.
He said: “I was exhausted, it was like pulling a car in. We couldn’t lift it onto the boat, it was way too heavy, but you can estimate its weight from the length and girth. It was at least 8ft long so I reckon it was somewhere between 450 and 550lbs.
“The biggest fish I’ve ever caught before this was a 200lb goliath grouper when I was in Florida, so this is a big leap up on my personal best.
“I was pretty shocked when I finally reeled it in and saw it next to the boat – it didn’t look very happy, it was quite angry and not very pleased at all.”
He added: “This is a great sporting fish right here in our waters. It was the first one I’ve caught but it hopefully won’t be the last.
“The porbeagle is the second fastest shark, it goes off like a torpedo and it put up quite a fight so it feels amazing to have reeled it in.
“I got it up to the boat five or six times but it wasn’t very happy about being there. It’s what you call a ‘touch the leader’, we reeled it in, got some pictures and then let it go again.
“It’s the biggest fish I’ve ever caught, it felt like a big achievement.”