(June 1, 2018) Several mako sharks were caught and released last week and a 93-incher weighing 291 pounds was boated, which bodes well for the 22nd annual Mako Mania Tournament, which begins today, Friday, and runs through Sunday.
“We’re just praying for good weather. It was a long winter and I think plenty of people are ready to fish,” Earl Conley, co-director of Mako Mania, said earlier this week. “Hopefully the storm will stay down south. When the weather is like this, it makes fish feed well. They sense the change in weather and they feel like they need to feed.”
Last Wednesday, Fred Weinhold, fishing on the Marli, landed the 93-inch mako, so some large sharks are out there just in time for the tournament.
“I think there will be some action at the scale,” Conley said.
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced the recreational minimum size limit increased to 83 inches (fork length) for Atlantic Shortfin Mako Sharks. The minimum previously was 54 inches. This was implemented to address overfishing of the species.
The measure will be effective until Aug. 29, with a possible extension of up to an additional 186 days.
“They saw a decline in the mako population and they felt by 83 inches their breeding lifecycle has past – that their reproductive cycle is done by that time,” Conley said. “That’s a ginormous difference. An extra 30 inches is a lot when it comes to size and weight.”
Because of the emergency regulations for shortfin makos, which went into effect March 2, organizers of the Mako Mania Shark Tournament added several release calcuttas to the 2018 competition.
The entry fee is $500 per boat for up to four anglers. Two additional anglers — to make a six-person team — may be added to a boat for $50 each.
There is a one-day (different team) entry fee of $300 for charter boats. To be eligible the boat must already be entered with a team that is fishing two of the three tournament days. The third day may be fished with a different group.
Although crews can still enter the tournament, the deadline to participate in the added-entry level calcuttas was Thursday.
Anglers will fish two of three days, Friday through Sunday, June 1-3.
All fish must be weighed at Bahia Marina on 22nd Street, bayside. Scales will open at 3:30 p.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to watch the weigh-ins, which typically draw a large crowd.
Prize money will be awarded for the three-heaviest mako and thresher sharks and top-two bluefish brought to the scale, as well as top-three mako releases.
In past years, the crew that released the most sharks received the “W.W. Harman” $1,000 award in honor of the late William W. Harman, who launched shark tournaments in the resort about three decades ago. That will again be offered this year.
It was a record year for the 21st annual Mako Mania in 2017, with the most participation and highest payout ever awarded. A total of 337 anglers fished on 77 boats during the event and the total prize money distributed was $134,480.
The Moore Bills took top honors in the Mako Division, with a 228-pound shark caught by Shane Moore. The crew was awarded $64,580.
The Mako Me Crazy earned second place with a 196.3-pound mako reeled in by Mike Adams. The team received $9,558.
The Jenny Poo finished in third with Cheri Coley’s 191.2-pound mako, worth $13,952.
Because of participation in added-entry level calcuttas, or wagering pools, the Sea Ya was also presented prize money. Denny Lorah hooked a 183-pound mako and was awarded $5,040.
The Teaser won the Thresher Division with Mike Fritsch’s 583-pound shark. The team was presented $15,765.
The Get Reel came in second with Kevin Rohe’s 501-pound thresher. The crew took home $8,559.
Vaughn Charlton’s 434-pound thresher earned him and his Game On teammates $5,706.
The Teaser took the Bluefish Division with Rick Windsor’s 11.2- and 7.3-pound catches. The group was presented $10,320.
Rhonda’s Osprey crew released five makos to win the $1,000 W.W. Harman award for most sharks released.
More than 100 sharks were released by participants over the three-day tournament.
For more information about Mako Mania, call Bahia Marina at 410-289-7438.