A common and wide spread inshore shallow water shark, the Tope is found all around the coast of Ireland.The Tope is one of the best Sport fish ireland has to offer and a true angling challange. Less common in certain parts of the south for some reason This shark can be found in packs of males or as loner females. Dingle, Westport, Blacksod,, Greystones, Lough Swilly, Fennit and Cahore Co. Wexford all see Tope caught each year when in season. Carlingford Lough saw a record of 66lb 8oz back in 1979 and a 70lb+ was caught in Greystones just in 2002. This shark has been caught in excess of 100lbs commercially which proves that the Irish record is still there for the taking.
The Tope is a versitile sharks and can turn up literally anywhere! They do however, usually turn up around sandy beaches and gullies where thhey prey on flat fish and the shoals of Whiting. Often found around strong tide races at headlands where they chase the shoals of Mackeral and Herring in August and September. Generally speaking Tope are not shy of shallow water and can be found in less than 12 ft even in the day time providing there are food fish in the area. They can also turn up on wrecks too chasing Pout and school Bass. In summary, the Topes habitat is really governed by their current food source and seasonal food fish. Sand banks are the usual haunt of the Tope and different areas will have their different times and spots to target them.
Tope come close inshore during April and May to have their live born pups. Their numbers climb around July, August and September in time with the coming of the Mackeral shoals. The winter months of October, November and December can see their fair share of Tope as they feed on shoals of Coalfish and whiting. As the numbers of foodfish dwindle so too do the Tope.
Whiting, Dabs, Plaice, Launce, Codling and Pout. All these fish make great live baits for the Tope. The usual bait used by anglers however is the Mackeral flapper. Bait fishing for Tope is a slow process which requires 'rubby dubby'. Tope have on ocasion been found with large crabs and small lobsters in their stomachs! Half a Dab or Whiting is apparently a very good bait. Another one well worth a try is a half Dogfish flapper! It is very likely Tope Feed on these and they do bleed a lot when cut open. They are also very plentiful.
Strong Tide flows are good for spreading your rubby dubby trail but can wash a bait out. tope have been caught throughout different tides. It does not seem to affect them much but slack water does seem to slow things down.
Tides and Weather:
Shark fishing in all respects is a slow process that takes a great deal of patience often with no results. To be in with a chance you must play all the variables in your favour. Listen out in tackle shops for news of catches. When, Where, Particular day, What tide was on that day? Day or night? Armed with this information you at least know you are not wasting your time. A sliding ledger rig is needed with a flowing trace of about 6'. use abot five ft of 80lb mono ended in a wire trace. This is crucial as Tope can often bite through mono and their rough hide can often fray your main line resulting in a snap off.

When targeting tope it is best to come prepared with a good supply of rubby dubby mix to be in with a good chance of attracting the Sharks. This is best prepared at home using a sealabl large lunchbox type container. Take several mackeral and liquidize the lot. You can add other bits of bait like old Ragworm , Squid, Sand eels, Shellfish if you wish. Now add a decent helping of ordinary cereal bran or bran flakes and again liquidize the lot. The bran soaks up the fish juice and adds some body to the slop. If you have no bran then bread is a good substitute. Tackle shops have various mixes you can buy and work well too. Also worth adding is bottled fish oil and squid oils you can buy from tackle shops. you can now pack this putrid mess into the container and seal it as to protect your car and public from the smell. This can now be loaded into a feeder and tied to the back of the boat to help attract the Tope. Some anglers like to tie their mix in a bag to their anchor ropein order to get it near the bottom.

It is a misconception that Tope need huge fish bait. They can easily take a Sandeel or strip of Mackeral. If they take your bait and continue to drop it then your baits are too large and you should drop down in size in bait and hook.

The initial run of aTope is usually their longest and so reels hould be set on loos drag. Never leave a rod simply resting against a gunwhale. Always have it in a rod holder or in your hand as rods can easily be pulled over the side never to be seen again. When the shark runs let him!. He will eventually tire after 50-100 yards depending on the size of the fish and it is then that you set the hook. There may be several dives before you get him to the boat but do not be afraid to give him line if he wants it. Use the Topes own Weight to remove the hook and return to the water.
Tope Profile
Back to Species Page
Back to Home Page