With a 3,456 pound Great White named “Mary Lee” stalking South Jersey’s inshore waters, and a plethora of gray seals beaching themselves on Cape May’s beaches a lot of us have been thinking: “Something is happening out there.”
At 11:00pm on Saturday an 820 pound mako was lifted off the deck of the sport fishing vessel Missfit. The 5 man crew of the Missfit, captained by owner Rob Kurian, celebrated as they set the bar at a near state record level for the beginning of the 2015 mako fishing season.
After an early morning of filling the chest with yellowfin tuna the crew on the Missfit decided to spend the rest of the day honing their team’s skills for the upcoming shark tournament only weeks away. Their luck continued and within a short period of time one of their reels started peeling line. Once hooked, angler Gary Blakla of Philadelphia took on the challenge of hauling in what turned out to be a catch of a lifetime. Assisting Captain Kurian on board the vessel was Captain Fred Dirsh, Captain Paul Tsoukalas, and Fred Dirsh Sr. Armed with only moderate stand-up tackle, Gary battled the behemoth mako for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes before the crew took over at the side of the boat. “She was jumping all over the ocean” Fred reported, “It was an unbelievable sight to see”.
After the giant fish was boat side, the 11-foot shark presented the unexpected second half of the battle, how to get it in the boat. As seasoned captain Rob Kurian explained, “We took some time to collect ourselves and figure out what to do next”. After several attempts to boat the shark, it was carefully manhandled into the vessel where it took up most of the available deck space. “It took all five of us giving everything we had left to get it in” said Kurian, “and by that time we knew we were going to be late getting in”.
Once secured and underway the men did what responsible anglers should do. They contacted the United States Coast Guard to notify their families that they would be later than expected and not to worry. The Coast Guard relayed their message to their loved ones and then later waited for them at South Jersey Marina to watch them weigh their fish.
“Three weeks from now that fish would have been worth nearly a quarter of a million dollars”, said Rick Weber owner of South Jersey Marina and Tournaments. Missfit’s mako was more than twice the size of last year’s winning fish and larger than any fish weighed in recent tournament history. Weber concluded “We’ve seen some great fish come in at the tournament, but nothing like this”
The 35th Annual South Jersey Shark Tournament will take place June 10th-13th, with weigh-ins on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons that are open to the public. Last year saw a field of 97 boats compete for over $320,000. If current fishing conditions continue this year will likely see an increase of both participants and purse. According to Weber, “Anglers are natural optimists, we see a big fish and think ‘I bet there’s one bigger out there’”.
Missfit Sportfishing with Captain Rob Kurian is available for charter at 302-437-6557. For more information on the South Jersey Shark Tournament contact South Jersey Marina at 609-884-0177 or visit the online at SouthJerseyTournaments.com.
The previous post was a guest blog by Mark Allen of the South Jersey marina.