Mako Mania

Five tips for savage shark hook-ups.

Mako sharks run at highway speeds, jump like a trampoline artist, and frequent waters close enough to shore that anglers with experience and a seaworthy 20' boat can pursue them. Plus there's the element of danger. I've had two makos jump in my boats. Over the course of 30 years of mako fishing, I developed the following tips. ****

Start your engines: Makos often run at the boat on the hookset, causing unprepared anglers to lose a fish due to slack line. Nobody can reel at 40-mph. Once a fish has picked up a bait, start the motor and prepare to run away from the fish initially. Once most of the slack is out, move the boat at an angle to the fish's direction to create a line belly. The belly in the water creates resistance that keeps the line tight while the angler recovers.

Bow down: The mako shark's signature air-show is usually prefaced by the a decreasing angle of the line with respect to the water's surface. Coach your angler to be prepared to drop the tip and reach out, extending his upper body and the rod towards the fish. This creates a little momentary slack in the line. If the mako lands on a taught line after a 15-foot cartwheel, you can say goodbye.

Gaff Shot: Often, a mako will make an initial high-speed run, sound, and then be pumped and reeled to boatside in short order. The fish is usually still "green." Wait a moment before gaffing. Typically the fish will take off again. Sticking a mako that isn't beat with 6-pounds of stainless steel hook is asking to have your boat and crew pummeled by uncontrollable fury.

Flat Tire: Once the flying gaff is sunk and its line belayed, you've got to get her "wheels" -the tail-out of the water. Tail roped, a mako has no power, and while she can still writhe with extraordinary fury, you are in control. Be careful, as I've seen more than one tailroper knocked out cold from a tail swat.

Trifecta: As a younger angler, I felt compelled to run to the extent of my boat's range in search of mako steaks. But you don't have to. Mako love bluefish, clear water over 65-degrees F, and structure. Find those three and start chumming. ****