|Searching for Mr. Snaggletooth|
Part 2: The blue is not the gamest of sharks, but it can prove entertaining while waiting for Mr. Snaggletooth.
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — October 2002
We departed Ocean Marine in Freeport and headed out of Jones Inlet on a course of about 147°M, bound for a spot called Mako Hotel. With a name like this, how could we lose? The morning was steamy, with the mercury predicted to climb well above 90°F. Even with a two- to three-foot chop from the southwest, the Grady made a comfortable 26 knots on her way out to the fishing grounds.
Of course the ride out meant story-sharing time, which was full of battles fought with some glorious victories and heartbreaking defeats. There was D'Angelo's tale of his crew hooking up just a week before with more than 17 blue sharks in the same spot we were headed to. The blue is not the gamest of sharks, but it can prove entertaining while waiting for Mr. Snaggletooth. I shared my own near-miss story of meeting up with a mammoth mako last summer during a tournament in which the estimated 400-pound-plus fish came right up to my boat's swim platform and taunted me by eating the chum and not taking the hooked bait. I did everything to entice him but open the transom door and dangle my feet in front him. He just wasn't having it.
At the spot where we were to set up the chum slick and drift the water temperature was near 70°F and as blue as a mako's back. The scene was primed for a big, toothy critter to come and dance with our crew.
Most often the chum slick is made out of oily, ground bunker and mackerel that is continuously distributed into the water via a hole-filled chum bag slung over the gunwale. The oily slick lures the sharks up to the full or filleted mackerel, bunker, and/or hooked bluefish baits. In addition to our standard chum this day, Blanchard, a Louisiana native who happens to be a sushi connoisseur and goes by the nickname "Chum Master Slick," made friendly with his local chef and collected some tuna, yellowtail, and salmon strips to add to the mix. I was thinking, "Hey buddy, let's get some of that tuna in a pan below decks, huh?"
With the chum master's slick going strong, the oil made a clearly visible lane over the gentle swells and flattened a pathway for the baits. We'd attached the strips of fish to 10/0 hooks with six-foot-plus 240-pound wire leaders connected to 100-pound mono via a 500-pound swivel. If we hooked up with something, it wasn't breaking off easily. The mono was spooled on 50-pound Shimano Tiagra reels attached to D'Angelo's custom 5'6" stand-up rods. The baits were out, Hylan had the camera ready, and all we had to do now was keep the slick going, check baits periodically, and--well, wait for Mr. Snaggletooth.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.