Columnist : Georges Corner
by George Van Zant
fishing trips can get boring but sometimes a trip needs telling.
This is one that needs to be told.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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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