My family loves hearing stories of my sea adventures, and last night’s topic was snatching food from the teeth of big sharks. Thought you might enjoy them, too.
Story 1: We were fishing near San Miguel Island, not far from the area at the western end of the island that we call Shark Park. A passenger was bringing up a very large vermilion rockfish (red snapper). He hollered, “Color,” which meant it was near the surface. I was there with a gaff.
We both leaned over the gunn’l to see the fish and time my gaff work. We could see the fish almost breaking the surface, but we were also looking into the gaping maw of a white shark coming up from below to take that big rockfish, which seemed to shrink in size compared to the mouth of that toothy shark.
I’ll never forget the image of those razor teeth ominously ringing that mouth opened to the max and ready for a bite. Instinctively, my passenger stepped back away from the rail while I swung the gaff and lifted the fish out of the mouth of that shark.
The great white, which I’d estimate to be 10 feet long, closed its mouth on nothing and silently slunk away.
At that moment I was really glad that movies like Jaws dramatically overstate any tendency a shark has to hold a grudge. I didn’t want that shark to be mad at me!
Story 2: We were trolling for salmon off Summerland some years ago and we had a couple of nice ones near 20 pounds in the fish box. We hooked up again, trolling in the same small area which had slightly milky-colored water and lots of sea life near the surface.
As we were reeling the thrashing salmon to the boat, I reached out with the long-handled net to scoop it up. Just before the net reached the fish, the surface of the sea seemed to explode and an 8-foot mako shark went airborn with its mouth open and razor-sharp teeth gleaming.
Instinctively I stretched out the net for the salmon and scooped it up. Well, I scooped up the front half of the fish, since the back half was in the shark’s mouth after the toothy critter cut it easily in half as it broke the surface.
That of course meant our half of the salmon did not meet the minimum size limit for that species, and we sadly had to “release” it. I’m guessing the mako enjoyed that half, too.
— 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. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.