Bob last year with the JP dodo

Bob last year with the JP dodo

Last week, I had the opportunity to fish with my buddy Bob Beyer.  I met Bob last year on an exploratory Dodo Hunt on the Sum Fun out of Dana Wharf Sportfishing.  It was August and they put together a trip to do some local paddy hopping to see if it made sense to start doing some regularly scheduled offshore trips.  We metered a lot of fish, and Bob was lucky enough to catch the first local dodo of the year and get his picture in Western Outdoor News.

Bob and I have been trying to connect since, but he’s been decking for charter operation Season’s Sportfishing and I mainly ride open party boats.  I was excited when Bob hit me up and asked if I wanted to fish on a private boat with him.  Done.  Bob had met a guy named Clyde who had just purchased a boat and wanted to fish with someone that knew the local area and had experience around a boat.  I got to tag along as an extra stick 😉

Our plan was to launch out of Dana Point, head offshore and look for some kelp paddies that were hopefully holding yellowtail and/or dorado.  Well, long story short, the conditions were great…72-74 degree water, and it was clean blue with no chop.  It was easy to find kelp paddies and we found several…but no fish.  We spent about 6 hours out there and the only fish caught was a mako shark.  We saw it jump, recognized what it was and drove past it.  All of a sudden, one of the trolling rods goes off.  Hook up!  I was the only one in the back of the boat, so I picked it up and wound it in.

This was the point at which the discussion started.  Bob said legal was 3 feet (I found out later that 3 feet is minimum size for leopard sharks, but there is no minimum size for makos, threshers or blues).  The shark was probably a little over 3 feet long, so even under our false impression of a minimum length, it was takeable.  Now what?

Still salty after all these years...

Still salty after all these years…

Some Background

Let me take a step back.  It was 1990 or 91, I was on a trip to Cabo and rented a panga for the day.  On that trip, I caught what is still today my biggest fish ever.  It was a brown shark, over 8 feet long, and over 200 lbs.    I took that fish.  The pangero cut me off some steaks that I had them prepare at the hotel and he took the rest of it to feed his family.  I didn’t think twice about taking it.

On subsequent trips to Mexico, I’ve caught marlin.  On one particular trip to Acapulco, between my then wife and I, we caught 4 in one day.  Killed them all.  I knew the fish wouldn’t go to waste, that the pangeros would probably eat some and sell the rest.  Still, I felt a little guilty about it.  When I was in the East Cape last year, I decided that if I caught a marlin, I would release it and made that clear to the pangero I hired.  I did catch one, and it was released.

What changed?  I’ve just kind of come to the conclusion that apex predators don’t have a lot of natural predators and if you take them out of the ecosystem it whacks out the balance of things.

How Does This Relate To Sharks?

Sharks are apex predators.  As a fisherman, it annoys me that so called environmentalists get all goo goo ga ga over sea lions.  They save these pups on the beach that have been abandoned by their mothers, nurse them back to health and release them back into the ocean.  Well if you’ve spent any time on the water this year, you know that bait has been kind of scarce.  The reason these pups have been abandoned, is there isn’t enough food for them to eat.  Perhaps they are overpopulated?  Maybe if there were more sharks…

makoSo What Did We Do?

I’m not going to begrudge anyone doing what is within their legal rights.  Clyde asked me what we should do and I said, “I don’t need it, but if you want it, you should take it.”  We released it.  Well, I took video and Bob did all the hard work, but the shark was let go.  Would I take a shark if I caught one again?  Maybe.  Would I go on a shark targeting trip?  No.  I don’t think it takes a lot of skill to catch sharks.  I also wonder if most of the people who do go and target sharks are doing it for the meat or if their motivation is to post macho “man kills beast” pics to their Facebook timeline.  What do you think?  Think about it.

 

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