Big Fish, Little Reels

Capt. John N Raguso Wins 2017 Wally Oakland Memorial Shark Tournament

It doesn’t take a big,heavy reel to catch a big, hard-fighting fish. Need proof? Check out this 341-pound thresher shark that Boating contributor, Capt. John N. Raguso put his charter on June 28, 2017, during the 21st Annual Wally Oakland Shark Tournament, held out of Oakland’s Marina, Shinnecock Inlet, New York. On the rod was Capt. Jo-Jo LaFace, using a Penn 16VSX reel.

John Raguso Big Thresher
Boating Contributing Editor, Capt. John N. Raguso helped his charter best this 341-pound thresher shark using a Penn 16 VSX reel. Capt. John N. Raguso

Said Raguso, a noted author, and a renowned tournament fishing captain, ” There were a few snickers from the ” Big Reel” crowd when I loaded these on the boat for my away charter, but they all shut up when we hoisted the 341-lb thresher to the scales and took first prize.”

John Raguso Big Thresher Scales
Boating contributor, author and tournament-winning captain, Capt. John N. Raguso, is on the left. Capt. John N. Raguso
Capt. Jo-Jo LaFace beasts a 341-pound thresher shark with a Penn 16 VSX reel.
Capt. Jo-Jo LaFace bests a 341-pound thresher shark with a Penn 16 VSX reel. Capt. John N. Raguso

Here is Raguso’s account of the action:


We had one of the best shark trips ever aboard Capt. Joe LaFace’s charter boat Jo-Deene at the 21st Annual Wally & Doug Oakland’s Memorial Shark Tournament on June 27th out of Shinnecock Inlet. Joining us was his son Capt. Jo-Jo, one of NYPD’s finest. We headed out to some clean 65-degree water SW of Montauk Point. Had a 125-mako as soonas we dropped in and released it after a short fight, looking for bigger game. A thresher came calling about 10-minutes later and gobbled up a fresh bunker bait on a mighty-mite Penn 16VSX outfit spooled with 600-yards of hi-vis yellow 65-lb TUF-Line superbraid. The fight was on and after about 1.5-hours of pulling 22-lbs of strike drag, the little 16 put another big shark notch in her reel seat with Jo-Jo slugging it out all the way and besting the big whiptail. We were able to drag her tail first into the Grady Canyon 271’s cockpit via the wave gate and headed home early, getting back to Oakland’s at 11am. This 341-lb Thresher was the tournament’s biggest fish and took home first prize and a bunch of the calcutta. Capt. Joe and Jo-Jo are great folks and their Grady is totally tricked out for their inshore charters specialty…and obviously offshore charters now too! Thanks for the invitation guys, it was a pleasure to introduce you both to the joys and effectiveness of the lite-tackle, big game, sport fishing experience

Capt. John N. Raguso runs charters aboard his own boat, MarCeeJay, and, “away charters,” aboard other boats. Contact him at