|Searching for Mr. Snaggletooth|
Five anglers go on a mission to find the gamest shark on the planet.
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — October 2002
When anglers head offshore to fish for sharks, the target is most often the mako, a.k.a. Mr. Snaggletooth. The cobalt-blue body and pointy nose of this apex predator are unmistakable, as are the gnarly teeth that assure whatever enters its mouth does not leave.
In addition, this fish is the consummate acrobat, able to leap and twist its torpedo-like body ten, 15, even 20 feet out of the water. This pelagic has even been known to launch itself into a cockpit or two, usually leaving the startled crew scurrying up to the safety of the flying bridge or diving headlong into the cabin until the fish is worn out. Of course, the mako never seems to tire until it has destroyed a good portion of expensive gear on deck with its thrashing about. I've even heard a story of a long-liner crew that watched a hooked mako leap into the boat, get caught in the lines onboard, and stand upright on its tail trying to get free. This bad boy is reported to have chomped at the crew for almost 90 seconds before it hit the deck.
In spite of these risks, the mako is a desirable catch for offshore anglers. It's simply the best at what it does (and it's also quite tasty). During the early summer and fall, these impressive works of nature cruise offshore the Northeast following schools of bluefish, and as often as I can, I head to the deep blue to do battle with them. Sometimes we meet, and sometimes we don't. But either way these trips offshore are always memorable. It may be because there was--or wasn't--a flat ocean that day or because of the fish stories told by my fellow anglers onboard, stories that grow with each telling like Pinocchio's nose. And it always makes my day to see a rookie angler's face when a shark's dark shadow first becomes visible in the chum slick.
On a late-June trip aboard Blinky II, a 33-foot Grady-White Express berthed in Freeport, New York, all of the above made this day one of the best I've had offshore in a long while. First, I had the chance to fish with a PMY reader and newfound friend, Thomas D'Angelo, and his hard-core crew of Greg Blanchard and Dave Nockler. These guys know their stuff and work with the kind of precision that only seasons together can teach. Second, I also got to show a rookie the ropes and give her some insight of what Toothy is like in his own backyard. The rookie was former PMY art director Sara Hylan, who'd been asking me about fishing for shark for more than a year. The timing was right, and besides, Hylan could also fill in as the photographer I needed to document the story.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.