MAKO MANIA - ‘Fish of a lifetime’ draws crowd in minutes

TINA HARBUCK
Capt. Don Dineen jumps in elation with buddy Rodney Johnson when he sees the weight of the Mako pop up on the scales. The shark weighed in at 720 pounds.

Nothing draws a crowd like a shark on the docks.

In a matter of minutes, the number of folks milling around on the docks went from about three to 300 as the crew aboard the Sure Lure backed in with a massive Mako shark at Fishing Fleet Marina Wednesday evening.

"They were coming from nowhere," said Jami Jones, of Destin Charter Services at Fishing Fleet Marina. And before you could blink an eye the docks were filled with people in hopes of getting a glance at the monster from the Gulf.

However, the crew aboard the Sure Lure didn't set out to lure in a shark, they were just out cobia fishing between Navarre and Pensacola.

"We had heard of two or three shark in the area," said Capt. Don Dineen.

About an hour before they spotted the huge Mako 30 yards past the breakers, they had reeled in what they came for, a 40-pound cobia. But then they spotted the shark in the shallow green water.

"We put about an 8-ounce ruby lip on and dropped it back. She took the bait instantly when we got it in front of her," Dineen said, noting Pam Dana hand picked the bait.

Randy Messer was the angler on the Shimano 50-wide loaded with 60-pound test when they hooked her in about 15-feet of water.

"I knew I was under gunned and out manned," Dineen said when he got a good look at the massive Mako.

"She jumped 10 or 12 times, doing summersaults and everything right when we hooked her," he said.

At that point, the shark drew them about a mile off the beach and then jumped about six more times.

"She was tuckered out by then," he said.

About an hour into the tangle with the shark, Blake Bridges and crew on the boat Pool Shark from out of Orange Beach, Ala. was in the area and came over to help make sure the Sure Lure got their shark.

Bridges boarded the boat and helped to get a gaff in the shark as well as getting a tail rope on the shark.

Dineen said they hooked the shark about 12:30 and they had her tied to the back of the boat by 2:30 p.m.

"It took us about five hours to come back," he said, noting they could only travel about 7 knots dragging the shark.

Once back at the docks, it didn't take long for word to spread as folks gathered around.

The crew at Fishing Fleet used a Lull forklift to hoist the shark up and onto the docks.

"It went from four or five people standing around to about 200 or 300 people. It was insane," said Capt. Eric Thrasher who drove the Lull. "They were running down the docks to see. Everybody was fascinated … in awe of it."

When the shark was finally hoisted on the scales, it clicked in at 720 pounds. Capt. Dineen said they didn't measure the length of the fish, but he guessed it to be at least 10-feet, noting that when he stretched his arm up it was a good two or three feet taller than his reach.

"I had one like that last year and fought it for about two hours," Dineen said before it got away.

"You never know … they can tail whip you at any time," he said.

As for the Mako they landed Wednesday, Dineen said, "The good Lord blessed me with the fish of a lifetime."