(June 8, 2018) With the recreational minimum size limit of Atlantic Shortfin Mako Sharks increased from 54 to 83 inches (fork length), some wondered if any would be brought to the scale during the 22nd annual Mako Mania tournament, held last weekend.
The doubts were squashed when the first fish weighed at Bahia Marina on 22nd Street last Friday was a large mako.
Steve Randazzo’s mako, caught aboard FOMO, measured exactly 83 inches and weighed 200.9 pounds. The crew was awarded $28,900, which included the bonus $1,000 Winner Takes All for largest mako.
“It was good to see the length met,” said Earl Conley, Mako Mania co-director. “It put to rest everyone’s worry that it was hard to find one that big.”
Because of emergency regulations implemented by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration to address overfishing of makos, organizers of the shark tournament added several release calcuttas, or wagering pools, this year.
An estimated 50 sharks were released during the tournament. Not all boat release reports were submitted to event officials. Conley said recreational fishermen and charter captains are aware of the importance of sustainability of fisheries and support the cause.
The SeaMent crew released six makos to take first place in the division. The team was presented $17,700. They also earned the $1,000 W.W. Harman award for releasing the most makos.
The Portabella team released three makos and won $3,159.
The Absolute Pleasure and Siren crews both released two makos each. Absolute Pleasure released its last mako earlier in the day, so the group finished in third place. They took home $8,667. The Siren team was awarded $3,690
The Nontypical crew pocketed $684 for releasing one mako.
Last Saturday, about 10 minutes after lines went in the water, a thresher shark took the Fish-Full Thinking’s bait. Nick Skidmore fought the shark for more than two hours aboard the 25-foot boat. Since it was so large it had to be towed from offshore back to the dock.
The thresher weighed 644.9 pounds. It is bigger than the Maryland state record of 642 pounds, but since the fish was shot – which is legal for the tournament – it was inconclusive at that time if it would take over the top spot in the books.
On Wednesday, Skidmore found out it wound not qualify for the state record.
The official statement released by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources states:
“After careful consideration, the Department of Natural Resources Fishing and Boating Services has carefully made the decision to disqualify Nick Skidmore’s 644.9 thresher shark. Under the department’s State Records Rules and Procedures and Official FishMaryland Rules, fish that have been snagged, shot, gaffed*, speared, scaled, or mutilated are not eligible.
(*Gaffing is illegal in the Chesapeake Bay, but is allowed for securing and boating fish in ocean waters. Gaffing [including use of detachable “flying gaffs”] is a common and accepted method of boating fish for ocean and offshore fishing).
The current 642-pound thresher shark record held by Brent Applegit still stands.”
Skidmore’s post on his Facebook page Wednesday read: “I’m okay with their decision, rules are rules. While it’s a bummer, it will in no way, shape, or form ruin the best fishing weekend of my life!
Maybe next time we will have to throw a rope around its tail and drag it backwards for 30-40 min slowly drowning the fish to death to have it qualify for a ‘record.’ Gotta be a better way!!”
The thresher was shot boatside for the safety of the crew. Skidmore felt that method was more humane than dragging it for a long period of time to drown it.
He was fishing with Brandon Miller and Ryan Oberholtzer.
The crew received $6,225 for the first-place catch in the thresher division. Miller hooked a 183.3-pound thresher the day before, which finished in third place. It was worth $1,890.
SeaMent angler Ed Ream landed a 355.2-pound thresher, good for second place and $10,035.
The Teaser crew swept the bluefish division. Randy Garner’s 2.2-pound bluefish took first and Ricky Winsor’s 2-pounder placed second. The team received $5,640.
Thirty-seven boats carrying 176 anglers were entered into this year’s tournament, a drop from a record 77 boats registered in 2017. Nearly $87,600 was presented to 2018 tournament winners.
“From the amount of people we had, it was a successful tournament,” Conley said. “The weather forecast was not good. [Participation] was more weather related than because of the increase in length [of mako sharks].
“The people who fish this tournament a lot weren’t really concerned about the increase in length,” he added.
The tournament allowed participants to fish two of three days. Thirty-five of the 37 boats headed offshore last Friday. All fished Saturday. Two were eligible to fish on Sunday, but because of poor conditions they did not.