Saturday, March 24 , 2018, 11:04 am | Fair 58º


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Captain’s Log: I’ve Got That Sharky Feeling

A thresher shark gets hooked in the waters off Santa Barbara. Click to view larger
A thresher shark gets hooked in the waters off Santa Barbara. (David Bacon / Noozhawk photo)

That old sharky feeling is back. I’ve had it a few other times in my life, and it means they are near.

It always begins with the old shark-bite scar tissue on my left hand beginning to itch. It’s as healed as it will ever be — and has been so for many years — but the ol’ captain’s instincts kinda bring on the itch when the source is nearby.

It began with the absence of sea lions where they should have been gathered in large over-populated throngs. That tells me that the landlord — the great white shark — is around, and the sea lions sensed it and wisely decided to self-evacuate.

I recall once seeing a 5-mile-long section of Santa Cruz Island completely devoid of sea lions in an area where there are typically thousands of them. I had that sharky feeling then, too.

Increased catches of thresher sharks in the past few weeks fed the feeling again, and over the weekend we caught one aboard my charter boat, WaveWalker, while drifting live mackerel baits off of the cemetery in about 60 feet of water.

The wild-eyed feller who fought that shark was grinning ear-to-ear!

On Sunday, while setting up for a drift over a fishing area called the 1-Mile (It is easy enough to figure out how far from the harbor that is), I felt compelled to scour the water, and there it was, a shark fin sinuously cutting the surface of the water.

That phantom shape below was about 5 feet long. Reflections from the sun prevented me from getting a good look at the fin and the shape, so it could have been a blue shark or a mako shark. Those two critters have decidedly different dispositions.

To me, sea conditions feel right for sharks. I’ve got a long lifetime at sea, intimately involved in the food chain, and it just feels right for sharks right now.

Besides, this sharkbite scar tissue it itching like crazy. I’ll believe that symptom all on its own even if those other symptoms of sharky water were not clear and present. Be careful out there!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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