Leaping 500-pound mako shark whips anglers into a screaming frenzy; video

Mako shark splashes down after one of several spectacular leaps.

As every angler knows, sometimes it's the one that gets away that generates the most excitement.

That certainly proved to be the case Sunday off Dana Point, Calif., when a 500-pound mako shark bit on a mackerel and treated an entire family to an aerial performance the likes of which it had never experienced.

"The shark swam by the side of the boat and took the live mackerel bait," Capt. Bo Daniel told the Orange County Register. "It took off screaming and crashed around in front of the boat. Then it started jumping right next to the boat. My deckhand, Steven LaSarge, was splashed like he was at SeaWorld with Shamu."

The 10 family members were enjoying a private charter aboard the San Mateo out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing, and catching small yellowtail on light tackle when the mako shark crashed the paddy. LaSarge hooked the shark but the anglers took turns handling the rod amid a chorus of cheers after each leap of a predator that at one point looked dangerously close to the boat.

Daniel and LaSarge knew, once they saw the size of the shark and how it was using its leaping ability to break free of the line, that the anglers would not land the predator.

"I was tugging on it and in my peripheral vision I saw a giant fish jump out on the other side of the boat," Ron Smith, 52, the chartermaster, said. "I didn't realize how fast they move from the front to the back of the boat. It was incredible seeing it in the air, upside down and twisting."

Mako sharks are the fastest shark species, capable of swimming in bursts of up to 45 mph. They're also known for their acrobatics on the hook.

Last week, video surfaced showing a mako shark landing on a fishing boat off Long Island, N.Y., and becoming trapped between the deck and bow railing. The injured shark ultimately was freed.

Also last week, veteran angler Al Quattrocchi posted a Facebook photo showing a larger mako shark launching high into the air after it had been hooked (photo posted above).

Donna Kalez, general manager at Dana Wharf Sportfishing, said that another of its vessels, the Helena, reported a mako shark hookup this week off Dana Point.

Warming water has allowed species such as yellowtail and dorado to move into Southern California waters. These game fish often gather beneath floating offshore kelp paddies, which in turn attract predatory sharks.

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