Cockleshell Hero

In December 1942 “Operation Frankton” was undertaken by a team of highly trained British marine commandos, their mission to sink German ships within Bordeaux harbour with a view to disrupting the North Atlantic U-boat campaign. What was significant about their task was that the team employed two man canoes as their mode of transport, paddling seventy miles up the Gironde River under the noses of the Nazis. Twelve men started what was ultimately an arduous but successful mission out of which two personnel had to abandon the result of damage to their canoe, two drowned, two made it back to London via Gibralter, the remainder sadly were captured and shot.

Gary Robinson, kayak angler extraordinaire.

The innovative mission made famous by the 1955 produced film “Cockleshell Heroes” starring Trevor Howard and Dora Bryan clearly showed how versatile canoes/kayaks are, being fit for purpose across a multitude of uses. Seventy years later intrepid anglers are now using them to reach and capture large fish on rod and line, one such bloke being Gary Robinson who likes targeting tope off Ireland’s east coast.

A thirty pound tope for Gary Robinson, caught off Ireland's east coast. Image courtesy of Gary Robinson.

Walking onto the strand I was surprised to see Gary on the beach standing beside his well kitted out canoe untangling an anchor line. Currently studying marine biology in Galway, while up visiting his family Gary had decided to seize the opportunity take time out and see if a few tope were running. His day had been a success, a thirty pound tope making off with his fresh mackerel offering within ten minutes of commencing fishing. As far as I am aware Gary was the first sea angler to officially catch and release a kayak caught tope and is at the vanguard of this fascinating branch of the sport. Innovative and passionate about kayak fishing methodology and practice why not visit his site at

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