Jeff Thomason has made several trips from his Weatherford home to the waters off Huntington Beach, California in search of one of the ultimate prizes in bow fishing — a big mako shark.
He wasn’t prepared for just how big the mako would turn out to be.
“We are out there in the middle of the deep blue,” Thomason, who hosts the hunting show, Predator Pursuit, said. “Every once in a while, we’d have a great white show up, but we couldn’t shoot them.”
Thomason said it has taken a while for the captain, “Mako” Matt Potter, to really dial in the bow fishing for sharks, but he has it down to a science now.
“We shoot regular AMS bow arrows, but they have an interlock grapple with a steel leader,” he said. “You need the sharks really close to the boat and out of the water because those arrows are so heavy, they don’t fly far.”
Thomason said the hunt began like all the others — putting a lot of chum in the water, trolling slowly for two miles to spread the chum slick and then waiting for the sharks to arrive.
“We had been sitting there about 30 minutes, and one of the things we do is watch the seagulls that land in the slick. When they start to get off the water, you know something is coming,” Thomason said. “There were only a few birds this time and they were way out, but they started getting up in order. Not five minutes later, Matt yelled, ‘huge mako right at the boat.’”
Thomason thought the captain was messing with him, until he saw the dark silhouette of the shark calmly circling the boat with a fin out of the water.
“They’ve got to be about three feet from the boat to get the arrow to stick, so we threw a fish on a line and teased him to the boat,” Thomason said. “I try and shoot for the top of the back. As soon as the arrow hit, all hell broke loose. We freaked out because I spined him and we thought he might sink.”
The crew got the boat in gear and actually had the shark landed within 15 minutes, but it took much longer to secure the fish to the back of the boat.
“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,” he said. “It took another 15 minutes just to get him on the swim step.”
Once the shark was secure, it was a race back to the shore.
“There is a certified weigh station in Los Angeles, so we had someone bring a boat trailer and we loaded him just like a boat. We threw a tarp over him because he was already attracting a crowd. It was pandemonium at the dock.”
Once at the scales, the big make went 809.5 pounds and stretched the tape to 11 feet from nose to tail, besting the old world record by about 300 pounds.
Thomason said 400 pounds of the meat was donated to a homeless shelter in Los Angeles.