|Searching for Mr. Snaggletooth|
Part 3: “Did we have Snaggletooth?” I wondered.
By Capt. Patrick Sciacca — October 2002
About an hour into our drift, the reel with the bait lying just below the boat started to creep away. "Click, click, click." We all looked at each other as the rod began to bend. The clicks grew faster until they sounded like a slow-moving train. Shark baits are big, like the fish, and you have to fight the urge to set the hook and instead let the shark eat a bit. D'Angelo slowly worked his way to the rod, slipped on his gimble belt, and picking his moment, gave a firm strike upward and set the stainless hook into the shark's mouth. Bam! The train started to roll. The line peeled off faster than a quarter-mile dragster. "Did we have Snaggletooth?" I wondered.
My first instinct was to say no, as many makos I've caught take to the sky shortly after the hook is set. The line usually goes limp as the fish races to the surface and pierces the ocean like he was launched out of a submarine's missile bay. But I've also had them stay down. The crew anxiously waited to see what we had on the line. The sun and watching D'Angelo's battle had all of us beading with sweat. I readied my tag stick in case it wasn't a mako. If we weren't going to keep the fish, we could at least do our part for science and measure him, best guess his weight, and send him on his way with a tag.
Nockler yelled out, "I got leader! I got color!" Hylan steadied the camera for her first glimpse of an apex predator. I took note of the long, airplane-wing-like pectoral fins and told the rookie it was a big blue. Not exactly what we were aiming for, but a spectacular-looking animal in its own right. Nockler, one of the hardest-working mates I've seen, brought the fish boatside, and I placed a tag just behind the nine-foot-long shark's dorsal fin. A hopeful start, and we all set up to do it again.
We managed four more blue sharks and released them all. But when the ninth inning came and our last out was called, Mr. Snaggletooth had eluded us. In spite of the fact I'd failed in my attempt to show our rookie the magic of the leaping mako, she immediately asked when we would be heading out again because just seeing a shark in its own environment was "cool."
So, Mr. Snaggletooth, we may not have been able to catch you this time, but we did manage to snag a new, keeper-size bluewater angler, and that's always a good thing. Next time, Mr. Snaggletooth, next time.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.