A group of Florida bankers who embarked on what they’d planned as a friendly fishing competition this past weekend instead became engaged in a titanic team struggle against a 1,000-pound mako shark.
The great predator bit on a slab of bonito 16 miles off Elliott Key and subsequently leaped 10 feet clear of the water. It then settled in for a deep-water fight that lasted four hours. (To witness the chaos alongside the boat, see video posted below.)
Five of seven anglers aboard the yacht, Wound Up, took turns handling the rod and reel.
Warren Sands, the vessel owner who organized the excursion for employees of Ocean Bank and graduates of Florida International University, said of the catch: “I’ve been fishing for 20 years, and tournament fishing for sailfish for 10 years and I’ve never been involved in anything like this.”
Sands fought the mako for the final 30 minutes. The crew used two flying gaffs — with lines attached — and one straight gaff to subdue the beast and haul it through the transom door. News of the catch began to spread at midweek.
Such large sharks are rarely encountered in Florida waters. John Dudas, captain of Wound Up, said his previous big mako was a 912-pound specimen caught in 1982. It had been spotted surface feeding on a swordfish.
The bankers, mostly novice anglers, had set out to target mahi-mahi. But once they arrived at the offshore fishing grounds the crew spotted the 1,000-pound mako, which measured 12 feet, swimming along the surface. Dudas swung the boat around while mate Robbie Ramirez cast-out a slab of bonito, using a reel spooled with 50-pound-test line and a 2,000-pound leader designed for sharks and marlin.
The shark charged the bait swiftly and the fight was on.
Of the bankers’ reaction, Dudas said: “They just love being out there, and to see something that big was very exciting for them, and was really a thrill of a lifetime for them.”
The International Game Fish Assn. lists as the all-tackle world record a 1,221-pound mako caught by Luke Sweeney off Chatham, Mass., in 2001.
– Image is courtesy of Wound Up Sportfishing