Skip to main content

Shark Week Of Their Own

Anglers off California coast experience nighttime catch of mako

Shark Week Of Their Own
Shark Week Of Their Own

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif -- It's most likely purely coincidence that the yearly spectacle of Shark Week coincides with a large harvest of sometimes record-breaking mako sharks off Southern California's coast.

At this time last year, when the Discovery Channel was holding its 25th Shark Week, one mako reeled in weighed 750 pounds before breaking the scale. Another, only 6 weeks apart, was sized at 10 feet, 3 inches.

Just this past June, Corey Knowlton of Jim Shockey's "The Professionals" on Outdoor Channel was on board filming when a 1,323-pound mako was caught off the coast of Huntington Beach. The monster took angler Jason Johnston nearly two hours to reel in.

"He took out a quarter-mile of line," Johnston told Los Angeles's KTLA. "And five times he came out of the water over 20 feet. This thing is definitely a killing machine. Any wrong step, I could have gone out of the boat and down to the bottom of the ocean."

Johnston continues his wait to find out from the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) if it will best the All Tackle World Record from a 1,221-pound mako caught off Chatham, Mass.


Mako sharks are an apex predator in the offshore blue waters. Famed writer Ernest Hemingway provided one of the best descriptions, before video was ever available, and it remains incredibly accurate.


His Old Man and the Sea essay reads:

"He was a very big mako shark, built to swim as fast as the fastest fish in the sea and everything about him was beautiful except his jaws. His back was as blue as a swordfish's and his belly was silver and his hide was smooth and handsome. He was built as a swordfish except for his huge jaws. Which were tight shut now as he swam fast, just under the surface with his high dorsal fin knifing through the water without wavering. Inside the closed double lip of his jaws all of his eight rows of teeth were slanted inwards. They were shaped like a man's fingers when they are crisped like claws. This was a fish built to feed on all the fishes in the sea, that were so fast and strong and well armed that they had no other enemy."


Click image to check out the Mako shark photo gallery


The 80-foot Western Pride, part of the Davey's Locker daily fleet of fishing boats in Newport Beach, motored out to the same area where the 1,323-pound mako shark was caught. And with warming conditions, the chances of catching a mako was a likely possibility.


A few miles offshore and after sunset, 15 conventional reels with 50-80 pound line were baited with mackerel and barracuda bellies and dropped into the black Pacific. Deckhands also tied two balloons to each line, which would serve as the tell-all sign - if the balloon danced, a shark would be on the other end, chomping away.

After two hours of furious boat rocking, a balloon danced, followed by shouts of excitement from the fishermen. One began to reel, but the mako slipped off the line. This happened three more times throughout the next hour, and the lesson became clear - don't let the shark just nibble at the bait. Let it eat and swallow. Then reel.

Just after midnight, that lesson was put into action. After a mako swallowed the bait, a fisherman furiously reeled in the shark. A deckhand gaffed the 5-foot shark and pulled it in the boat, immediately cutting the top of its head, where a crucial nerve lies. This was done to keep the shark from thrashing around the boat, potentially causing harm. Another deckhand put it this way - "when it gets in the boat, the sucker can run."


The shark was filleted, provided five bags of meat and gave each fishermen on board an adrenaline packed Shark Week of their own.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

How to Quickly Re-Spool a Fishing Reel

How to Quickly Re-Spool a Fishing Reel

Stripping a reel and adding fresh line is a breeze if you know the drill—literally.

RIO Slickcast Fly Lines

RIO Slickcast Fly Lines

Chris Walker, with RIO Products, talks with Editor/Publisher Ross Purnell of Fly Fisherman magazine about the new SlickCast lineup of fly lines for 2020.

SPRO Madeye Diver 85 & Minnow 120

SPRO Madeye Diver 85 & Minnow 120

The Madeye Diver 85 & 120 feature sound chambers that imitate various batfish.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Almost anyone can catch a bunch of small catfish. Hooking a true monster requires a different level of preparation, skill and effort.A Time for Giant Catfish Catfish

A Time for Giant Catfish

John N. Felsher - August 24, 2020

Almost anyone can catch a bunch of small catfish. Hooking a true monster requires a different...

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths.5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters really stand out for monsters.The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish Catfish

The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish

John N. Felsher - August 21, 2020

Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters...

The National Shooting Sports Foundation provides places to start.Are You a New Hunter Looking for Help? Hunting How-To

Are You a New Hunter Looking for Help?

Adam Heggenstaller - August 19, 2020

The National Shooting Sports Foundation provides places to start.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

A father-son fishing outing for bass culminated into a catch that tied a state record for yellow perch in Tennessee.Father-Son Outing Results in Tied State Record Stories

Father-Son Outing Results in Tied State Record

Game & Fish Online Staff - August 08, 2018

A father-son fishing outing for bass culminated into a catch that tied a state record for...

There's no reason you can't be prepared if you catch a state-record fish.Think It's a State Record? Now What? Stories

Think It's a State Record? Now What?

M.D. Johnson - March 26, 2020

There's no reason you can't be prepared if you catch a state-record fish.

All sides must have something to offer to make it work.Fishing Buddies: It Has to Be Give-and-Take Stories

Fishing Buddies: It Has to Be Give-and-Take

Jeff Johnston - June 18, 2020

All sides must have something to offer to make it work.

Cabela's agrees to be bought by Bass Pro Shops in a deal valued at $5.5 billion that will combine the top two hunting and fishing retailers in the United StatesBass Pro Shops 'Reels In' Cabela's with $5.5 Billion Deal Stories

Bass Pro Shops 'Reels In' Cabela's with $5.5 Billion Deal

Abhijith Ganapavaram and Sruthi Shankar

Cabela's agrees to be bought by Bass Pro Shops in a deal valued at $5.5 billion that will...

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now