The shortfin mako is the fastest, and perhaps most acrobatic of sharks. They are capable of swimming in bursts of speed exceeding 40 mph and are known for their energetic leaps from the water when hooked. Inevitably, this leads to occasions when the fish lands inside the boat and chomps down on anything it can wrap its jaws around. Anglers Clint Simek and Captain Tom Rostron, Jr. were fishing near New Jersey’s Manasquan Inlet on June 4 when an eight-foot mako they had hooked decided to come onboard.
“At first we were in shock when he was in the boat. Then he started thrashing and we were like ‘Oh my God, we have a big problem, this thing is going to eat us,’” Rostron told the Asbury Park Press.
The anglers were originally scouting the waters for several upcoming mako fishing tournaments, which explained for their sparse two-man crew.
“Clint and I wanted to pre-fish the tournaments,” Rostron said. “We had no intentions of boating the biggest fish we ever have.”
Earlier in the day the anglers had warmed up by catching and releasing 14 blue sharks, along with riding six-foot swells. By the time they set up bait for the mako the waters had already calmed.
“We were trying to feed bait to him. I reeled up our deep rod and felt him eat the bait,” said Rostron. “As soon as he felt the hook, he shot 15 feet in the air.”
The power behind propelling roughly 300 pounds of shark that high from the water is impressive, but something that mako anglers have gotten used to. Sharks several times this size, such as the possible world record caught earlier this month, can also perform the feat, putting smaller ships like Rostron’s 31-foot boat in jeopardy.
The mako performed five more jumps, the last of which landed it squarely on the bow of the boat. Once there, it began ripping through cushions, broomsticks, and other equipment with its notoriously sharp teeth. As the fish started come down the side, Simek kept the shark at bay with a scrub-brush which was then promptly bit in two.
“We stood in the back for a half hour before I gaffed it and Clint tied the tail,” Rostron recalled. “Then we wedged it into the side of the boat.”
The anglers brought the shark back to shore, presumably the first inshore catch of the season. Now Rostron just has to learn how to buff shark bites out of his boat.
An interview with Simek and Rostron can be seen below: