(May 25, 2018) Because of the emergency regulations for Atlantic Shortfin Mako Sharks that went into effect March 2, organizers of the Mako Mania Shark Tournament added several release calcuttas for the 2018 competition.
National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the recreational minimum size limit has been increased to 83 inches (fork length) for shortfin makos. This was implemented to address overfishing of the species.
“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,” Earl Conley, Mako Mania co-director, said
The minimum previously was 54 inches. The measure will be effective until Aug. 29 with a possible extension of up to an additional 186 days.
“That’s a ginormous difference. An extra 30 inches is a lot when it comes to size and weight,” Conley said. “That’s about a 250-pound fish. Not a lot of sharks are caught in that range during the tournament, let alone the summer.”
Mako Mania organizers have added $100, $300 and $500 release calcuttas, or wagering pools, this year.
“We talked to a lot of loyal Mako Mania fishermen and they all agree 100 percent we did the right thing,” Conley said. “I think it will be received well.”
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.
With the new release calcuttas comes a new set of rules:
• Call in releases to committee boat as usual
• A cell phone must be designated as the official team phone
• That cell phone must take pictures of each released mako. The picture must show the leader in hand and the shark boatside
• The phone with pictures must be brought to the scales, before scales close the day of fishing (3:30-7:30 p.m.), along with the day’s catch report, in person (no exceptions)
• The pictures will be reviewed by a tournament official and then sent via text to tournament cell, 443-497-0986, after approved on site for the file
• Cheating of any kind will not be tolerated
• All other tournament rules are in effect
Despite the size regulation, Conley said there has been much interest in the tournament.
“We’ve gotten a lot of calls. I think it will be a great tournament,” Conley said. “It’s been a rainy, cold, windy start to the season. All the people that I talked to are amped up and ready to go fishing.”
Final registration for the 22nd annual Mako Mania, presented by Bahia Marina Tournaments, will be Thursday, May 31, beginning at 4 p.m. at Bahia Marina on 22nd Street, bayside. A captains’ meeting will follow.
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 at $50 each.
Anglers will fish two of three days, Friday through Sunday, June 1-3.
All fish must be weighed at Bahia Marina. 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.
This tournament has added-entry categories for the heaviest thresher sharks, mako and bluefish.
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 releases.
“Big bluefish are here. We know the bait is here, which means makos are here,” Conley said. “The water temperature should improve by the time the tournament begins.”
The bonus $1,000 Winner Take All Calcutta money will be returned in full (minus a 3 percent convenience fee if paid by credit card) if no qualifying mako is brought to the scale.
In addition, if no qualifying mako is brought to the scale, the $500, $300 and $100 calcutta money will be transferred to the mako release divisions.
“It encourages people to go in both [the mako added entry levels and release divisions] or at least the release,” Conley said.
An awards ceremony will take place after the scale closes on the final fishing day.
It was a record year for the 21st annual Mako Mania last year, with the most participation and payout awarded. A total of 337 anglers fished on 77 boats during the event. The total prize money distributed was $134,480.
For information, call 410-289-7438.