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Monster Shark: Angler Lands Massive Mako off the California Coast
by Jim Hendricks
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Janine Bacungan, New Fishall Bait Co.
A 1,323.5-pound mako shark landed early this week off Southern California might be a new all-tackle world record. The current record of 1,221 pounds was caught off the coast of Massachusetts.

For angler Jason Johnston of Mesquite, Texas, this is definitely shark week.  

That's because he has landed a possible world-record mako shark on a fishing trip to Southern California. The 1,323.5-pound, 11-foot-long shark was landed yesterday, June 3, aboard Breakaway Charters' 37-foot Topaz, captained by Matt Potter, known locally as Mako Matt, according to Kent Williams of Gardena, California-based New Fishall Bait Co., which weighed in the fish and sponsors Breakaway Charters.

“The fish took out a quarter-mile of line, and five times he jumped,” Johnston said in an interview with CBS TV News in Los Angeles. “It was amazing.” Johston is out fishing again today (June 4), and was unavailable to discuss the tackle he used to land the behemoth.  

Fight time exceeded two hours, according to the CBS story. The crew used chum from New Fishall to lure the shark to the boat, and a slab of fish enticed it to bite, Williams said. While the crew was mum on exactly where they were fishing, most anglers targeting big makos in Southern California fish offshore high spots west of Santa Catalina Island ranging from 30 to 60 nautical miles off the coast. These include locations such as the 172, Osborn Bank, 499 and the Snail. 

The current International Game Fish Association (IGFA) all-tackle world record mako weighed 1,221 pounds, and was landed by Luke Sweeney on July 21, 2001, in the Atlantic off Massachusetts. It was weighed in at Chatham, Massachusetts. The California state record is 1,098 pounds, landed by Sean Gizatullin at Anacapa Island on July 24, 2010.

Though Johnston's fish would smash both records, his mako’s weight and measurements have yet to be officially recognized as a record by either the IGFA or the state of California. The certification process could take months, and there is no guarantee that it will qualify in either category. The IGFA, in particular, has strict rules concerning tackle and angling techniques when it come to certifying world records.

According to Johnston, the body of the California mako will be donated to research.