By Pete Thomas/GrindTv
For the second time this summer, the host of a hunting television show has traveled to California and used a bowfishing outfit to capture a world-record mako shark.
Also for the second time this summer, the bow angler is being assailed via social media by shark fans and conservationists.
Jeff Thomason is the latest record-setter. The 809-pound mako shark he shot and reeled in recently off Huntington Beach, has been approved by the Bowfishing Association of America as the new world record.
Large mako sharks roam pelagic waters off Southern California, making the area popular among local and visiting anglers.
Most local anglers and shark-fishing outfitters, however, maintain a low profile because of an increasingly vociferous anti-shark-fishing element.
Fishing for mako sharks is legal, but all species of sharks are believed to have been over-fished to some degree over the years, and news of the capture of a large shark for record consideration, or as a trophy, invariably draws sharp criticism.
When word of Thomason’s catch began to spread on the Internet this past week, it was met with the same type of disapproval that accompanied Eger’s catch.
“Why all this stupid macho thing?” reads one of dozens of Facebook comments on the White Shark Interest Group page, which has more than 18,000 members.
“Why didn’t he get in the water and shoot it with that bow?” reads another.” There was at least one comment in defense of Thomason: “Makos aren’t threatened and [they’re ] widely eaten… This WAS NOT finning and the meat [was] not wasted.”
The global shark-finning trade is the reason many shark species are in peril. Estimates place the number of sharks killed for their fins, to be used in soup in Asian markets, at nearly 100 million per year.
Thomason told Lone Star Outdoors that his group, which like Eger’s group was fishing with guide “Mako” Matt Potter, encountered a few great white sharks during its expedition, but could not shoot them because white sharks, unlike makos, are protected.
The mako was lured to the boat by chumming fish parts and blood, a common method among conventional anglers, too.
It wasn’t long before Potter spotted a large mako approaching the boat.
“They’ve got to be about three feet from the boat to get the arrow to stick, so we threw a fish on the line and teased him to the boat,” Thomason recalled. “I try and shoot for the top of the back. As soon as the arrow hit, all hell broke loose.”
With the aid of Potter maneuvering the boat during the fight, the mako was reeled in and subdued in about 15 minutes. (Arrows are attached to a line, fixed to a big-game reel.)
“There was a certified weigh station in Los Angeles, so we had someone bring a boat trailer and we loaded him just like a boat,” Thomason said. “We threw a tarp over him because he was already attracting a crowd. It was pandemonium at the dock.”
The episode was recorded for an upcoming show, and Thomason said the meat was donated to a shelter for the homeless in Los Angeles.
For the sake of comparison, the world record for a mako shark caught on rod and reel stands at 1,221 pounds. It was caught by Luke Sweeney in 2001 off Chatham, Massachusetts.