Meet our first Angler Ambassador, Liam Gunn! Liam has recently contributed some fantastic records that will help us gain a better understanding of where and when aggregations of pregnant females occur. As an angler, he is highly conscientious of welfare, and has focussed developing his angling approach to minimise stress. We think this makes Liam a brilliant ambassador for the project, so we have made him our first ambassador, and the first angler to be featured on our website. He has kindly given his time to tell us more about his experiences and passion for spurdog - Thank you Liam!
Where are you from and where do you typically fish?
I grew up in the remote and exposed Shetland Islands, but I currently reside in North East Scotland.
When and why did you start fishing for spurdog?
I can fondly recall being a young kid fishing at my local harbour. I vividly remember the feeling of shock and excitement when a pack of spurdogs began chasing my hooked mackerel. My imagination went wild, and there after I spent many days out at the local fisheries college, studying spurdogs that The College were keeping in very large tanks for their research projects. Since then, I have developed a way of fishing for them that ensures their safe release in as short of a timeframe as possible.
Why are spurdog of interest to you?
I have always had a passion and a large amount of respect for these misunderstood, and quite delicate sharks despite their rugged appearance. It is great to see that they are recovering well, and in many areas they are very abundant and provide great sport for anglers, and a great spectacle for recreational divers.
What made you decide to record your catch with Spurwatch?
I found Spurwatch on social media, and was instantly very impressed by their mission statement. Promoting proper handling, recording crucial data that can hopefully ensure that these great fish can be enjoyed by all for decades to come, and hopefully giving us a better understanding of their movements and behaviours. What's not to like about that!
What are your goals as a shark fisherman? E.g. do you like to tick off species, chase big catch, or simply enjoy the encounters with wildlife?
I am caught somewhat between these categories. I enjoy chasing specimen fish, but equally, when I catch spur pups I am equally as fascinated by just how incredible they look. I also enjoy the encounters just as much - the shark's welfare always comes as a priority first and foremost. They are handled with utter care, and well supported at all times. Watching them swim along the beach, seeing their dorsal fin breaching the surface much like a miniature version of Jaws after a release gives me truly as much joy as catching them in the first place.
What are your thoughts on recreational fishing and conservation working together?
I think at the moment the relationship between recreational anglers, and those who are interested in conservation is a bit disjointed. There are misconceptions on both ends I believe, but I think that with a bit of nurturing, and raising awareness, then solidarity could be easily achieved. After all, we all want the same thing. To be able to enjoy seeing spurdogs in our waters for years to come.