Date: June 23-24,2014
Time: 6:00 am
Weather: winds sw @ 5-7KNTS
General Location: 17 - 30 NM South of Shinnecock Inlet
Bait/Lure: Bluefish, Mackerel and Squid
Largest:: 97", 390 LBS!
Time Line of the last 2 days:
Monday June 23:
With a few Bluefish in the freezer I headed out for an hour to grab a couple more fresh ones. Tony picked me up around 5:30pm and we headed out to the captain's meeting for the 18th Annual Wally Oakland Memorial Shark tournament benefiting East End Hospice. It felt more like a Saturday than a Monday with all of the buzz around Oakland's Marina. While most people slept I took the opportunity to catch some free fluke bait. There was a lot of squid around the docks. I finally called it a night around 1:30am.
Tuesday June 24:
5:00am... The rest of the crew shows up. With all gear and crew on board we made our way to the starting line. At 6:00am the horn blew and chaos was unleashed. 60 boats trying to get through the inlet was a white knuckle experience. I have a feeling next year the start will be different. Captain John did a great job hammering the throttle to keep us out of harm's way. About 20 minutes into our trip the boat's RPMs begin to drop. Capt. John quickly ran down to the engine room and was able to fix the problem.
7:30am... We stop about 27 NM south of the inlet. After 2 hours of listening to the radio about all of the activity we decided to pick up and move.
10:00am... We set up our new slick.
11:00am... After listening to the radio it seemed we were the only boat not hooking up. That was about to change... A shark hits the deep bait. After a quick run he launches himself completely out of the water. IT'S BIG!!! He jumps again. Like a well oiled machine we have the deck cleared and I'm given the assignment of the "leader man". Its my job to try to control the fish once I'm able to get my hands on the wire cable and keep him close to the boat so both of our gaff guys (big guys both named Tony) can do their jobs. About five minutes later the unthinkable happens... he spits the hook.
12:00pm... I spot a fin on top of the water. He is chewing on our way-back bait. Once again we clear the deck only to have have the fish spit the hook once more.
12:30pm... With our chum slick looking good we finally landed our first shark. It was a Blue shark that weighed about 150LBS and it was quickly released (only Makos and Threshers can be weighed in).
2:15pm... Things look bleak. The radio is still buzzing about all of the fish being landed. Some boats released as many as 5 Makos (you can only take 1). Then it happens... our angler Chris gets a solid hook up. After about 5 minutes the fish came to the boat with ease. In fact, we thought it was a Blue Shark because of the way he was acting. Once the shark got close to the boat we realized it was a toothy Mako. We were almost able to get this fish tail roped without even putting a gaff in him. As I'm holding the leader and Tony is trying to put the tail rope on him, he goes ballistic. This is my first time dealing with a shark this big. Not a chance in hell could I hold that fish back. The battle begins right now. We get him back to the boat and we are able to get a flying gaff into him. The shark swims under the boat and wraps the gaff rope around the propeller and actually straightens out the gaff. At this point we though we lost the fish. On top of that we had a fouled prop. Capt John puts on a mask and jumps in the water. At the same time we realized we still had the fish on. Chris did a great job backing down the drag and getting the shark out from under the boat. We are unable to maneuver the boat, so Chris had to walk the fish to the bow. As Chris continued to fight the fish in the bow, Kevin, Tony and Tony stayed in the stern to keep an eye on the Captain. Keep in mind Captain John is in the water under the boat while we are still hooked up in the middle of a chum slick. Chris and I are in the bow when we see the Captain pop up in the bridge and we instruct him which way to maneuver the boat. Chris is able to get the fish back to the stern. After a few more close calls we finally get a tail rope on him. Physically and emotionally drained, we make our way back to the marina.
4-6pm... With the crowd gathering, the fish gets hoisted and it is the biggest fish of the day so far - 390LBS! While we head back to the slip and filet the Mako (great to eat) some big Threshers are weighed in. I'm not positive but one may have been over 500LBS. It's okay because we still have the largest Mako weighed in.
6:30pm... The last boat of the day pulls up to the scale with a big Mako. The scale read 440LBS. We lost..almost. Today was our day. That fish missed the weigh in time.
8:00pm... The crew of the SEA U II (Capt John, Tony Gatto, Tony, Chris, Kevin, and me) are declared the winner of the largest Mako.
11:00pm... After Tony dropped me off, Gina did a great job "steaking" out the filets that I can't wait to eat.
June 24th is a day I will never forget, along with those on the SEA U II. The tournament is very well run. We raised over $13k for the East End Hospice.