Setting the hook on a big mako is like lighting the fuse on a stick of dynamite. It is going to go ballistic!
When a really big shark has taken your bait, I recommend letting out some line before setting the hook in order to prevent a catastrophe by moving the boat and the shark a safe distance apart before startling it.
The first order of business is to find hungry sharks. Most folks study commercially available temperature charts and look for breaks where baitfish and game fish tend to congregate. Mid-60s is the favored water temperature, and higher 60s will suffice. These breaks occur regularly throughout the SoCal Bight and are easy enough to spot on a temp chart.
Experienced shark masters add another element of success — finding a spot where a temperature break intersects an irregularity in bottom structure, such as a seamount, escarpment or deep canyon. That is the magic spot within a spot.
Laying out a scent trail helps the sharks find the boat. The easiest scent to use is store-bought buckets of frozen chum. Some folks prefer using meat grinders to make their own chum consisting of mackerel, anchovies, sardines and other fish, as well as their own secret ingredients such as fish oils.
Take a read on wind and current, then begin establishing a chum slick well up-drift of the structure. Plan on drifting for hours, and keep that chum slick thick and strong by breaking out another bucket periodically or adding some of your own homemade chum as needed. It may take some time before sharks find your boat, and even longer before the mako of your dreams comes along.
While waiting, prepare for battle. Have heavy outfits at the ready, rigged with steel leaders and large hooks. Have slabs of meat such as fish fillets and frozen mackerel at the ready. Some will be used to keep the shark near the boat while others will become hook baits.
Decide whether you are interested in quantity or quality. Fighting sharks is fun, and some folks like to enjoy plenty of action throughout the drift by soaking hook baits and battling the sometimes plentiful smaller sharks that swim up the chumline.
When quality is more important than consistent action, keep hook baits out of the water until the perfect shark shows up. Then toss it a happy meal followed by a hook bait of mackerel or a slab of fillet. Once the big shark takes the bait, let it have some line to put considerable distance between you and it before putting the reel in gear and slamming the hook home. That stick of dynamite is about to explode.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.