The recent travesty of anglers who killed a potential world record mako shark off Southern California, but never submitted it to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), delivered a big black eye to the recreational angling community. Shame on the skipper, angler and crew for killing that huge, breeding female mako and not even taking the time to fill out the IGFA paperwork. Their disrepect for the resource sickens me.
That said, I must also praise anglers who refuse to kill big makos, including one charter crew I am particularly proud of. My son, Joshua Hendricks, serves as first mate for Capt. Steve Quinlan aboard Strike Zone, a 29-foot Pro-Line which specializes in catching monster makos off Southern California. They know where and how to hook the monster makos. They're also learning how to tag and release them.
This season, Quinlan and Hendricks released nine makos, seven of which were in excess of 1,000 pounds. Three of the fish were in the 1,200-pound range – which makes them potential all-tackle world records. But rather than drag them in and show off at the scales, they released these potential record fish. Check out the tag and release of an estimated 1,200-pounder from Pete Thomas Outdoors. The number of makos killed by the crew this seaon? Zero.
Lest you call B.S. on the sizes, be aware that the Strike Zone crew has been fishing for sharks for 10 years in tournaments and charters, so they possess the experience to accurately estimate the size of a mako. If that's not enough, the video offers evidence.
By the way, the Strike Zone crew is not without past transgressions. In years gone by, they have killed their fair share of big makos. In fact, it was the killing of a big tournament-winning mako six years ago that led Quinlan and Hendricks to the decision that they would never kill another huge mako.
In this video, you’ll see the crew’s commitment to releasing monster makos, a commitment they make clear to clients before they ever book a charter aboard Strike Zone. I sincerely hope that other Southern California mako anglers see this and follow suit. If not, there may come a day when the state of California steps in to protect mako sharks, and then we will not be able to catch them at all.