DANA POINT A local family out for a three-quarter day of fishing Sunday, July 30 had some reel fun and the time of their lives.
The group of 10 were aboard the San Mateo, a private fishing charter from Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching looking for yellow fin and dorado about 18 miles out from Dana Point harbor when a 500-pound mako shark took the line.
“The shark swam by the side of the boat and took the live mackerel bait,” said Capt. Bo Daniel. “It took off screaming and crashed around in front of the boat. Then it started jumping right next to the boat. My deckhand, Steve LaSange, was splashed like he was at SeaWorld with Shamu.”
LaSange held on to the rod and let Ron Smith and his family take turns holding the rod.
“It was just insane,” Smith, 52, of Capistrano Beach said. “It was live-action Shark Week.”
“I was tugging on it and in my peripheral vision I saw a giant fish jump out on the other side of the boat,” Smith 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.”
After about 30 minutes, the shark cut the line with its tail and swam off, Daniel, 36, of San Clemente said.
“I had planned to release him anyway,” Daniel said “But he ended up saving himself.”
Though it’s legal to catch mako sharks, Daniel and other fishermen from Dana Wharf don’t target them but catch them sometimes to give their fishing clients a chance to see what holding a big fish like this is like. After the hook they release them.
“Mako’s are definite apex predators, they’re right up there with a great white,” he said. “They’re one of the fastest fish in the ocean and can swim up to 60 miles-per-hour.”
While hooking a mako isn’t entirely uncommon, Daniel said it was the proximity to shore that made it super unusual.
“Having it this up close was amazing.” he said. “Two feet closer it would have been dangerous.”
For Smith, the experience was unique in many ways. While he said he would have loved to land the shark, he recognized that something that large could have damaged the boat significantly.
“I think karma balances out,” the local landscaper said. ” We left the creature at sea to do his job at the top of the food chain.”
And at the top of food chain was…