Monster mako caught off Jersey Coast could set a shark record
The 12-foot-long, 926-pound shark put up a long fight.
This is a story that appears headed for the New Jersey record books.
Six guys chartered a boat to take them deep sea fishing Saturday. They hooked what felt like a bus, but it took off under water like a "freight train," said Mark Miccio, one of the sport fishermen, ranging in age from 21 to 55, who took turns for more than an hour reeling in the catch.
They thought they had a really big swordfish. When it surfaced, the dorsal fin revealed a mako shark — a 12-foot monster that would later weigh in at a possibly record-setting 926 pounds.
But first they had to reel it in.
As first-timers a hundred miles off the coast and in the Hudson Canyon, the men didn't know what was unfolding until their captains, Dave Bender and Kevin Gerrity, started to high-five.
"It was pretty unbelievable," Miccio said. "We were all in shock."
The first time they got it to the boat and shot at it with a 12-gauge shotgun, it took off. The second time it was shot and injured, but took off again. The third time was the kill.
"It was a beast," said Gerrity, of Jenny Lee Sportsfishing. As he was watching the men fight with the shark, Gerrity said they would have thrown it back had it been 400 or 500 pounds. They kept this one because they thought it could be a record for New Jersey.
Even then it took about 90 minutes for the six men and Gerrity to get the fish on board. When they did, they went straight to Hoffman's Marina in Manasquan, where there was a certified scale and dozens of bystanders waiting to see the magnificent catch and whether in fact it would be New Jersey's largest shark ever caught.
"It was a helluva fight," said Mike Grafas, dock master at Hoffman's. "When we saw this thing, I said, 'Oh boy.' It was the largest thing I've ever put on a scale."
It weighed 926 pounds, Grafas said. He feels certain this will set a record.
The standing record in New Jersey for any shark is an 880-pound tiger shark caught in 1988 off the coast of Cape May, according to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. The record for a mako is 856 pounds, set in 1994. State wildlife officials have not yet certified that this shark set a record.
In the meantime, the six men sliced their catch into many steaks that they shared with Jenny Lee's crew.
"I see a lot of mako barbecues in our future," said Maccio, who was fishing with his father, Steven, both of Trenton; brothers Matt, of Fieldsboro; and William, of Columbus; and friends Matthew Lockett, of Florence, and Nick Rondinella, of Dallas, Pa.