Low Head Makos
Mako sharks are not a species I would normally chase, and especially not at the mouth of the Tamar River. That is until Andrew Hart off Hook Line and Sinker caught the first mako shark taken on rod and reel off Low Head last season.
Andrew didn't just stumble onto the mako of 150 kg, he put in some serious hours and many fishless trips before landing this record proportioned Mako for Bass Strait. He experienced disappointment after he broke 2 fish off on light tackle and raised another, which ignored his baits. Andrew is no rookie when it comes to handling large fish. He has had plenty of blue water experience. He came second in the St Helens Game Fish Classic a few years ago with a 100 kg Stripped Marlin. He caught this out of a small aluminium boat on 15 kg tackle. The tackle was more suited to catching Snapper than marlin. The shark, which took him and his friend 2 hours to land, led them in a chase out to sea in Andrews center console boat, before landing the fish with a small snapper gaff and a tail rope. Andrew rang me up with the news that he was towing the shark back to Clarence Point and said that he would be at my house in an hour. I was fortunate enough t o view the fish first hand and scored a few Mako steaks for helping him clean it. We were able to get some good photos. What a monumental effort.
Andrew then started this Low Head season with a 60 kg mako on his second trip. He is on fire.
Andrew has also inspired a few other anglers to fish for makos at Low Head including a friend of mine Steve Robinson. He has fished at Low Head for most of his fishing career and has never come across Blue Dynamite (mako) in these waters. It proves that you really have to be fishing for them to have success.
I had a trip with Andrew last season but we did not turn a reel. We did catch plenty of other fish though including, flathead, squid, and morwong, which I was very pleased to catch.
The next trip I had was with Steve. I must admit he was a lot more excited than I was about it. I was more interested in chasing my favorite fish, snapper, than wasting my spare time sitting out in the big blue, berlying for hours and hours and probably not raising a fish. He was able to twist my arm and pinned me down on a date.
We headed out of Low Head mid morning and pulled up in about 35 meters of water just off Hebe Reef. Steve started berlying with a premade berly mix consisting of tuna oil and fish flesh that he had minced up a few days before. I rigged up a whole couta and so did Steve. Steve ran his back from the boat and I ran mine just behind the outboard. Around 1 ½ hours had passed and nothing had happened until I noticed a white flash under Steve's bait. The balloon, which was suspending his bait, had broken off. He picked up his rod and said there is something on this. He free spooled the unknown fish and then struck at it. There was nothing there I thought a large couta might have taken his bait. We wound his bait in to find his bait was gone. After this strange happening, I was winding in a squid jig and it was bitten off. This confirmed my thoughts of a big couta. When I looked up I saw a blue figure slowly swimming toward Steve's boat. I wound in my big bait as quickly as I could. I cast my bait in front of the figure. He spotted it and followed it down deep. He was very tentative and eye balled the bait closely before he took it. I gave a bit of line before I clicked my 15 kg lever drag into gear. I came tight; he didn't do a thing to start with. All of a sudden he exploded into a true Mako run which I had only seen on Hook Line and Sinker before. He did two massive somersaults, which seemed like over 3 meters in height. It blew me away after this run. He headed deep for a while. I could feel big head shakes through my line. He did another impressive run of about 100 meters and then sounded again. I finally got him up to the boat where Steve was waiting with a flying gaff. Steve sunk the gaff home and the shark went spastic. By this stage I had gaffed him with another gaff. It took three goes before I found my mark. I have never seen a fish with such a bad attitude. We finally subdued the fish and I was a bit wary about putting it into the boat. I was rapped with my first mako. What a place to catch it, the mouth of my home ground. The mako was 5'8 foot and weighed 50 kg. Steve and I are still blown away with Harty. How he landed that massive fish we will never know. He is a true Low Head legend!
I must admit that I am not an expert on catching mako sharks, but I used a 100kg stainless wire trace about 2 meters in length and a 11/0 forged tuna hook. It was as simple as it gets but it worked for me. Andrew used a 5 meter Black Magic shark trace.
RODS AND REELS
Most lever drag game reels will do that hold 500 meters of 15 kg or 24 kg line. Make sure the reel has a smooth drag. Any 15 kg to 24 kg short stroker game rod will be fine. You will also need a gimble belt and a harness as you can sometimes fight a fish for some time.
Mako sharks are apparently oceanic wanderers and can be caught in water as shallow as 10 meters. Baitfish seems to be the key. Find the bait and the mako's should be nearby. They prefer surface water temperatures of above 15 degrees.
Andrew has started up a new fishing trend that will grow in the years to come. I hope that on the next show that he does on Low Head mako's we see him hooked up!