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ArticlesFeatured Columnist : Georges Corner


Sharks
by George Van Zant

Relating fishing trips can get boring but sometimes a trip needs telling. This is one that needs to be told.

Recently, I ventured on one of my many summer shark trips in search for the famed Southern Cal mako shark. A mako search certainly isnąt new for me, I fish for them many times during the summer. Of course I donąt write about them all, most of the time each trip is sort of automatic and bares very little difference to the previous one. But this story needs telling for a couple of reasons. First, the overbearing presence of blue sharks this trip
was amazing, especially in light of all the hype about their impending demise. Secondly, I saw two makos pass by my chum line, one was eight feet long and probably 200 pounds the other at least six feet and easily over 100 pounds. Past experiences have produced many makos in the chum line but none the size of these two.

We fish south and east of the ten mile rigs and have done so for many years, even before the rigs were there. It has always been a good fishing spot as the bottom rises out of the Newport Canyon and up to the Southeast Bank. When I was a kid in the 1940ąs we used to watch the makos dismember many rock cod outfits to the surprise of the cod fishermen. It was also a place and time of plentiful blue sharks. They were everywhere you looked.
Sometimes on the way back to port you could see literally hundreds of fins sticking up and parading across the ocean surface.

Slowly over the years their numbers dwindled and it has become somewhat difficult to find a fin all day long. Last year we never had more than 3 blues in the chum line and they didnąt bother our hooked bait at all. We simply flylined the bait well back in the chum line while the blues spent most of the time up close chewing on our chum bucket. Sure we caught lots of blue sharks but nothing like the ones that sawed us up on this trip. They appeared minutes after our first chum line stop in the morning. They appeared by the droves from 15 inches to 6 feet long. We caught them in every direction from 100 yards behind the boat to 100 feet down under the boat. It was almost impossible to get bait out. When you did the bait had to plummet at least 200 feet deep on a 6-ounce sinker to escape the marauding
blues.

Why are they so abundant this year? Who knows? It is really difficult to keep bait in position. Veteran anglers have always said that if you use live mackerel a blue canąt catch it and I tend to agree because in the past for me live mackerel never got bit by a blue shark. Not this time though. Every mackerel ended up in a blues mouth and soon we ran out of live ones. Luckily we took a half scoop of large sardines and did have bait to use when the
mackerel were gone.

I was fishing with Mike Lewis and his son Marcus Vincent on Mikesą 25 foot Erickson the "Tempesta". After 6 hours of drift the first mako charged through the chum line and the blues scattered in all directions, one wasnąt fast enough though and the mako bit off the bottom portion of his tail. The mako grabbed a large chunk of albacore guts (our chum), swam off and disappeared straight down into the blue. Our lines were all sunk to 300 feet in that direction so we hoped that the mako would grab one of our sardines. Marcos got a pickup, a very large hard running pickup that tore off a run of 100 yards. Of course we thought he had the mako. It was the strongest and longest run of the day. What else could it be? As the fight ensued Marcos was taken to the front of the boat by the shark and I was left tending the chum line in the rear. When Marcos hooked his fish both Mike and I pulled in our baits to make room for the big battle. My rod was up against the rail with a dead sardine hanging limp in the breeze. The blue sharks exploded again and charging through the chum appeared the 200-pound mako. I threw my dead dried up sardine in front of his nose, he nosed it but before he could mouth it another mako cut in front of him and swallowed the bait. Darn it I really wanted that 200 pounder but I had to settle for the 80 pounder. While Marcos and I battled our fish two more makos appeared and cleaned up the rest of our chum. Poor Mike was sidelined with the gaff and tailrope and never even got bait in the water. Both makos vanished with the end of the chum and we didnąt see them again. Unfortunately, Marcosą big mako turned out to be an 8-foot blue.

Who knows what caused the proliferation of the blue sharks and the appearance of "largeą makos on the Southeast Bank. Letąs hope it holds up in the days to come and this trip wasnąt an exception to the rule.

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