Anglers participating in a cobia tournament recently off Destin, Florida, were off to a successful start when they landed a 40-pounder.
But they forgot all about cobia as soon as one of the crew spotted a massive mako shark cruising along the coast at a depth of only 15 feet.
A live bait was cast, and the hungry shark swirled immediately and devoured the offering. The two-hour battle, with Randy Messer handling the rod, featured more than a dozen acrobatic leaps.
The shark, hooked on 60-pound-test line 30 yards beyond the surf, towed the 40-foot vessel–the Sure Lure–nearly two miles offshore.
“It was pretty impressive watching a 700-pound shark clear the water like that,” said skipper Don Dineen said. “It was doing flips and everything.”
Securing the shark, with a gaff and tailrope, was a task that required the assistance of a veteran deckhand from another boat: Blake Bridges.
Because the shark had to be towed to port, the voyage lasted five hours. The mako was fork-lifted onto the Fishing Fleet Marina dock in the darkness and weighed 720 pounds, impressive enough to attract a crowd of about 300 onlookers.
“Word had spread about what we were bringing in," Dineen said. "I have a friend who owns are restaurant in the harbor and he told me his entire clientele cleared out when they saw the shark when we went by. They all ran over to watch us unload our catch.”
Wrote Tina Harbuck of the Destin Log: “Before you could blink an eye the docks were filled with people in hopes of getting a glance at the monster from the Gulf.”
Dineen said that while it’s rare to hook such a large mako shark so close to shore, they’re sometimes encountered during when cobia and tarpon are feeding in the shallows.
“Sometimes we see a lot of them, and sometimes we’ll go a whole season without seeing any,” Dineen said, adding that when the mako was hung from the scale, bones and tarpon scales spilled from its mouth.
The captain said he releases most of the sharks he catches, but since this was the largest mako caught aboard his boat, and since mako flesh is prime table fare, it was brought in to be weighed.
The shark, he added, was given to a fish market for processing, and the flesh is being sold to benefit a local charity.
Dineen said the largest mako he has heard of being caught off Florida was a 1,063-pounder. For the sake of comparison, the International Game Fish Association lists as the all-tackle world record a 1,221-pound mako caught of Chatham, Massachusetts, in 2001.
–Pete Thomas, via GrindTv Outdoor
–Photos are courtesy of Sure Lure Charters