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October 18, 2005

Mako Madness

Fishing in Elbow Cay, in the Abaco chain of the Bahamas, when we had a rare encounter with a Mako shark.

This past May, I was fishing on my 37-foot Bertram, "Poppy B", with my family and some friends off of Elbow Cay, in the Abaco chain of the Bahamas, when we had a rare encounter with a Mako shark. We were trolling along a pronounced rip that had formed east of the Hopetown lighthouse in 1,500 feet of water every afternoon on the falling tide. We hadn't been set up long, when the short rigger line went off. "Marlin!," yelled my son Ben, and sure enough, a small blue began to jump.

John Greco, a friend of Ben's, picked up the 50-pound rod, strapped himself into a stand-up harness, and began to work the fish towards the boat. The small blue came in pretty quickly, and in ten minutes we knew the fish was close, but Greco suddenly announced that something had changed; the fish's tail beat had stopped, and we thought maybe it had become tail wrapped. But when it came to the surface, its tail was missing, a signature calling card of a Mako shark.

We brought the dying fish aboard for a picture, and the300-pound  Mako appeared 30 feet behind the boat, swimming casually back and forth as if patiently waiting for the rest of its meal. We briefly considered cutting off a chunk of the marlin so we could try and catch the Mako, but somehow, using a spectacular fish like a blue marlin as chunk bait seemed too weird.

So, we tossed the dead fish back over and photographed nature talking its course. The Mako attacked the doomed fish again and again until shark and prey slowly sank from sight. It gave us a renewed appreciation for the food chain, and reaffirmed that it's good to be an apex predator, at the top of that chain.