In a photo posted to Facebook back in August, Jeff Thomason, an experienced hunter and the host of Predator Pursuit, posed with a massive mako shark that he had caught off the coast of California. At that size, many may presume that Thomason hooked it on a traditional rod and reel, but the compound bow he held in the same photo said differently. In the world of bowfishing, catching an 809-pound shark is beyond impressive—it is record-shattering. According to the Bowfishing Association of America, Thomason’s catch beat the current bowfishing record for mako by more than 260 pounds.
“He was so big. We had five of us on the boat and it took all of us doing everything we could to get him in with the pulley system,” Thomason told Lone Star Outdoor News. “It took another 15 minutes just to get him on the swim step.”
Thomason is no stranger to big game and big fish, but the 11-foot catch flabbergasted even him. Mako sharks are notoriously hard to land even with traditional angling methods, which makes them highly desired by saltwater fishermen. It takes an experienced crew and a skillful fisherman to reel in one of these sharks, which are reputed to be one of the more dangerous of its kind . It only took Thomason 15 minutes to land the beast, but he recalled the fight as a frantic one.
“As soon as the arrow hit, all hell broke loose,” he said. “We freaked out because I spined him and we thought he might sink.”
Yet with the help of the crew and captain “Mako” Matt, Thomason was able to bring the shark on board and have it weighed at a certified scale back in Los Angeles. The angler wrote on Facebook that he donated the catch—roughly 400 pounds of meat—to a local homeless shelter.
“I couldn’t believe it when we were reeling this behemoth to the boat—he’s nearly 300 pounds larger than the previous record holder,” Thomason said in a press release.
That record belonged to a 544-pound, eight-ounce shark captured by Patrick Eger just two months earlier. The Bowfishing Association of America has since verified Thomason’s catch as the new world record, yet not everyone is happy.
As news of the catch spread, many flocked to Thomason’s Facebook page to protest the kill. Some had mistakenly believed that the angler was “finning” the shark, a practice that strips sharks of their fins and then leaves the fish to die. Of course, bowfishing is not finning, and Thomason defended his catch by saying that none of the meat went to waste. Unlike some other sharks, demand for mako meat far outpaces the demand for its fins and the fish is considered very palatable. As long as the fish is harvested in an ethical and sustainable manner, many saltwater anglers defend the keeping of mako sharks.
Images from Facebook