August 23, 2011 in What's Happening
Mako sharks on a fly are a rare species that lately have received more and more press. Mainly due to the west coast fishing, led by Guide Conway Bowman, out of the San Diego area. Mako’s are an amazing fish to catch on the fly, making powerful runs and spectacular jumps. Being here in the north east it is a challenge that myself and Capt. Brian Goulart(Rise Pro Staff) have sought after to try. After all, we are in the North East where the most famous shark fisherman, Frank Mundus, is from. Mundus was supposedly the Capt. that inspired the character “Quint” from the movie JAWS.
We have had a couple other days in the past out off the coast of Montauk for sharks. One day only blue sharks came to the boat. The other to our surprise came 2 beautiful Mako. One around 4 feet and the other around 5. Two great sharks to catch on a fly rod. However that trip wouldn’t go our way as both hooks pulled and neither shark was landed.
Hoping our luck would change this year, we got our gear ready and even picked the brain of Conway Bowman for a few tips. We were ready. Some minor boat issues and bad weather delayed this year’s trip a couple of weeks. Frustrated for sure, the weather finally went our way and the forecast was gorgeous with light and variable winds. This was our day. We packed up; meet our angler, Anthony Collerton, at the Star Island Yacht club at 6am where a replica of the largest shark ever caught hangs. Reeled in by Frank Mundus and Donnie Braddick this Great White weighed in at over 3400 lbs. Kind of fitting to start our day loading our boat with chum in front of this monster.
Running about 20 miles or so off shore we stopped over an area with structure and a water temp good for Mako. An hour later we had our first guest. A 6ft Blue Shark. We toyed with the idea of throwing at it but knew if any Mako were around we needed to wait. About 30 minutes after we had our first shot behind the boat. It wasn’t a Mako but a 7-8ft hammerhead. We threw the fly as he came in straight at the boat. He charged the fly and opened his mouth to eat, but as the line came tight it caught just the edge of his mouth. Sticking him just enough to spoke him off. Luck wasn’t on our side but a great rush seeing this 200lb hammerhead chase down the fly.
As the day went on, Makos started darting through our slick. One fairly large one made his appearance out a ways. This fish that was easily 150lbs but would not come close to the boat for a shot. Just as I realized we were not going to get a chance at this one, a small mako bolted in from behind the boat. This little guy was perfect! Anthony made a cast, stripped the fly and five feet off the boat we were hooked up! I’m not sure who was more excited. Myself or Anthony who was fighting his first Mako on the fly!
He brought the fish to the boat; I grabbed the line and carefully brought the fish in the for a quick shot. I removed the hook and watched him swim away. What a day! It made up for the missed chance, boat issues and bad weather in the past. Our day could have ended there and no one would have complained. But luck was now going our way and not to long after landing our first Mako, a second slightly larger one came in fast and furious. He headed right towards our chum bag and latched on. With a mouth full of ground up bunker he was lit up. Anthony threw his fly and we were on again!
After a few long runs and small jumps( I guess the little ones don’t jump as much) we brought the fish in carefully to remove the hook and released him back hoping next year he’ll come back a little bigger. I don’t think anyone could have asked for more out of this day. Even back at the docks of Star Island Yacht Club the big charter boat Captains were surprised that we boated two Makos of any size on a fly.
I realize that not everyday will have an outcome like this one. Unfortunately the Mako shark population on the east coast isn’t like what it was a few years back. Many still keep this beautiful shark for its meat. Hopefully more people will start to realize the potential of this shark as a game fish and shark kill tournaments become a thing of the past. Maybe someday the east coast can have a fishery like Conway Bowman and crew have off of the coast of California. I think the more anglers that realize it’s a possibility to catch Makos here in the east will help create awareness and hopefully change the way this shark and others are looked at. I know I’m hooked.
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