Mako fishing tips


March 22, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Fishing and boating tips


As with all my 101 pieces this one reflects how “I” do it. This is not an end all home run must do everything else sucks piece. Its purely what has produced well for me for years…
Before we get started on the how to. Lets take a closer look at isurus oxyrinchus, the mako… Notice I don’t call him shark. Theres a lot of reasons…. Althought they are cartilage framed beasties with big teeth they are quite different than most other species. First iff is that they are true predators, although they will on occasion revert to the oportunistic scavenger mode that other sharks thrive on, the mako is a true huunter for the bulk of its subsistence.
Lets take a look at other characteristics that seperate it from the pack. Start at the tail. A basically forked tail with broad surface area allows them to unload a whole lot more propulsion that the others. The forked deasing coupled with their pointed snout creates a hydrodynamic topedo with better friction reduction than almost any other design out there. They sport a large peduncle in front of the tail to provide superior maneuverability at high speed.
The teeth are used several rows at a time. Their design is not the cutting and tearing kind like say the tiger, white or bull. These are designed to grasp and lock onto fast moving prey. Thats not saying that they cant tear a chunk off with a head shake like the others, its saying that they are designed to hold those that squirm.
Now how about this… They are warm blooded… Thats right their capillary system allows for the constriction and subsequent heating through friction of their blood. Typically they run about 3 degrees above their ambient enviroment… so in 68 degree water they are running at a 71 degree core reading. This gives them distinct advantages of maneuverability over their cold blooded prey…

Now lets learn more about our magnificent friends life… They spend the bulk of their life out in deep water. Most of their diet consists of scombroids (mackerels and tunas) with a liberal dose of squid tossed in. Something unique that they do add to their diets though is some big game species. Swordfish and even marlin seem to have a regular place in what they eat and when they get the urge, fear does not disuade them of taking on even specimens as large or larger than them selves. I’ve seen a 200 pounder run down and tag a 200 lb class sword free swimming as if it was a cat drilling a mouse. He knocked the tail (propellor) off and with the prey imobilized, went to work on the rest. I’ve also seen the big buggers take marlin in the pocket of Chub Cay like they were just a big ballyhoo.
All those things make up their day to day diets yes, but wait… Theres more. Just like we can’t survive eating just one thing, they too have dietary needs to keep their fine tuned bodies running like a top. After a few months out at sea eating all that stuff described above they need certain nutrients not found there so they make a push inshore to feed on bluefish and bunkers to obtain the oils and other goodies they need that aren’t supllied by the offshore banquet. While inshore they position them selves within striking distance of the blues and bunkers…

Ok theres the quickie on the cobalt missiles… This site doesn’t have enough bandwidth to cover all the details but that should do for now. Lets go fishing…
Rod and reel combos: While a great many makos can be taken with relative ease on 30 lb gear, 50 gear is more suited for the larger ones. In my case I even deply some 80 gear in my spread, I’ll elaborate on that further on… For most though 50 gear with wide spools is the norm. The wide spool giving the extra yardage you will want if one of these toothy rockets decides to motor off at full speed. At nearly 60mph that equates to about 80 feet a second and to make it even clearer, at high warp they have the ability to cover 400 yards in under twenty seconds!… a full 600 around 30seconds…
The business end: Damn! I see a billion ways and ideas surrounding this topic. Its hotter than a ten dollar diamond. I see mentioned by many the use of cable. For me this is flat out don’t do it country. First, cable can be worked through by the very pointy conical teeth in relative short order. Does it happen all the time? No, but often enough where I’m not gonna risk losing a money fish cause of it. Next and biggest problem I have with cable is that its way too unforgiving to work with on a regular pasis. It can cut right into or througheven a lether glove and when it does, your ability to let go is compromised… I used to bark at Billy V for his use of it and in the end thats what took him. I choose to stay on this side of the water thanks.
So what do I use??? After a zillion combinations of leader materials I settled on 250lb Sufix brand mono for a wind on. No I don’t sell Sufix, I use it because I have had zero problems with tail cuts or chafe throughs using it… Other noted brands have been tried and those problems did result in lost fish. Thank goodness that the lost fish were blue sharks that rolled in it.
Any way… The wind on can either be “handcuff” style or using a spro type swivel. I use about 20 feet fo my wind ons. Why so long? Although we are hunting makos we sometimes get a big thresher. They can be 16 feet or so to the tip of the tail one roll will swallow a lot of wind on.
Attached to that wind on is about 7 or 8 feet of single strand wire. Depending on the bait that will determine which size wire to use… On my mackeral or small fillet rigs I use #12 attached to either 8/0 or 9/0 ssd type extra strong ones… My usual choice is a 3407 ssd mustad, though the tuna style 7698 c gets the nod frequently…
Sharking burns a lot of rigs, even now with several months to go its never too early to start twistin.

On my big fillet rigs or whole bluefish rigs the wire gets bumped up to #15 and the hooks grow to either 12/0 3407ssd or 7732 needle eyes in 11/0…
Since 99% of my sharks are released I find that ones that have started to rust off my marlin and other trolling rigs being recycled works well…
Attaching the hooks to single strand requires haywire and barrel twists. I really need to do a 101 just on that but for now I will give a brief description. A haywire is where both wires wrap around each other… The barrel finishes it off with three or four neat and tight wraps with the tag end of the wire around the main wire. At the loop end of the rig the end of the barrel wrap is broken off flush with it using a back ward turn against the grain.
The hook end will have a “pin” remaining.
Now it ain over yet. I said “hooks” meaning more than one… For time savings I will twist up a bunch of main rigs and then twist up the stingers to be added.

The stinger loops are twisted as the others with haywire and barrel but no pins remain on this section. They are all busted flush… The nearly finished rig will look like this…

Now we gotta tack some baits to these rigs… What do I use for bait? If you were paying attention above you would see that my prefered bait is bluefish. Being that they also eat the scombroids, I add a mack or two here and there.
My bluefish baits are rigged whole, whole fillet, half fillet strip and even a plug. The macks are rigged whole.
My whole fish rig sets the hooks about eight inches apart with the pin about 2 inches in front of the lead hook. For the blefish rigs the hooks are about 16″ apart and about 3.5 inches from the lead hook to the pin. That distance to the pin is determined by the number of haywires and how tight or loose you wrap them.
On the whole baits I insert the hook through the gill plate and push the tip down and back out the belly leaving the stinger just hanging out.

Next I run the pin through BOTH lips of the bait…

After running the pin through you can use a rubber band (for speed) or section of monel wire for accuracy to seal the mouth shut. I used a rubber band for the demo cause it shows up better on the screen….

Next we take the stinger hook and run it down to the tail without bending the fish and I run the hook up so its 180 degrees from the other hook… You want a little looseness and no bend there otherwise the bait will spin…

Ok that the basic whole bait… Its not done quite yet though. I add two cuts about three inches long on a mack and about eight inches long along either side of the back bone. This gives you four “sides” for scent to emit from. Another trick is you can twist your knife in there to bust the back bone wich will limber the bait up some and allow it to work a bit more naturally. If you want to get creative you can inject bunker oil or other scent product into the cuts and let soak in… Finally, since makos are largely sight feeders you can add a skirt to create more visual flutter. On near surface baits I like hot pink on deeper baits I’ll go to a bright green or on couldy days white with splotches of pink seems to produce well high and low…
Another quick pointer is that the bluefish rigs I twist are designed for like 8lb class blues. Some times early in the season, I don’t always get that size and say 3 pounds is mmore common. For them I dont do the pin part as the second hook length would be too scrunched. Instead I just run the frunt hook from bottom to top through the lips and the rear hook gets turned down…
Moving on to the fillet rigs: Same rigs as mentioned above exceopt the pin is turned down. Instead of up.

I knock the whole side off a big blue for this bait. At the fat end I split it roughly half way back up toward the skinny end. This imparts more scent dispersal and more flutter…(sorry for the cardboard cut out but I had no blues to fillet for this)…

Staring with the rear hook at the flat end measure out the rig. Plant the rear hook, then the front hook, then run the pin through the skinny end. Then either band or wire around so bait hangs from pin end…

If the makos are running small you can take that fillet and cut it in half lengthwise to make a long strip that is easier for the rats to eat…

I have no photos for the “plug” but this is what it is… Cut the head and tail off a blue…. starting at the fat end, filet on both sides of the back bone to about half way to the skinny end. Remove the back bone for flutter. The front hook goes through the skinny end and the stinger goes throug one of the filleted sctions…
All of these filleted or plug baits can be dressed with skirts and scent added as mentioned above. You may also want to spice one up with a squid. “Ham and eggs” as its called sometimes draws bites from the finicky ones…

Ok baits are rigged… Lets go pick a spot. Makos can be caught in water as cold as 57 and as warm as 81 degrees. The prefered range is 64-69 degrees. Again these aren’t like other sharks. They are more gamefish and more so sight feeders. Clean green blue or blue water is best… I’m not saying you cant get one in the junk but the clearer the better.
Now that we’ve establishjed temp as one of the criteria, look to see where the temp meets structure… Gotta have it… They love structure. More often than not I get my fish right at the top of a rise about to slide over into deeper water…
Structure and temp are very important but there also needs to be food within reach. I’m not saying lay in the bluefish school from hell but don’t be too far from it… If you’re getting slammed by blues move out offshire til they quit.

Once you established a spot that has all three ingredients lay your boat up to drift over as much structure as you can hit. Remember that deep doesn’t mean diddly if theres no structure to go with it…

Time to set your spread out: I like to start with a whole blue. I let it iout roughly 90 feet from the boat, tie on the baloon and send her out about a hundred yards. I usually set that one on an 80 so I have enough beef to set the hook with all that line and potential stretch out there…
My next long one is a whole fillet. set about the same distance from the balloon and run about 75 yards from the boat also on an 80.
The plug bait gets let down deeper 150 feet from the balloon and 60 yards from the boat again on the 80.
I run a weighted mack off a 50 rig about 100 feet from the baloon. I run with about 6-8 ounces on this deep bait and she gets set maybe 40-50 yards from the boat.
A strip fillet is run about 40 yards from the boat flat. Another mack with no weight is run just about 30 feet from the boat for that one that sneaks up.

Chumming: Everybodys favorite subject!… Some talk about using lots of it or scattering it all over or what ever. Heres my take… I run my chum so it reaches down the line of my baits. I use just enough to draw attention to us. I don’t want my baits competing with it to entice the mako. I want it to draw his attention, not choke him. I’ve seen some in a too heavy slick just get mesmerized or confused by so much junk out there.
My analogy goes something like this…. Walk into a bar room. Some one is smoking a cigar at the far end. From a distance it doesn’t smell bad. Get clsoer it still smells ok. Closer yet though and it starts to get overpowering. Up close it makes you want to gag, burns your eyes and is a turn off… For me less is more. Just enough to get their attention let the baits do the real calling.
For chum, I love bunker. Good fresh ground that was flash frozen fresh. I do hand grind some bluefish and freeze in ziplocks to drop in a fine mesh bag and sweeten the slick some. Another one I like is fresh filleted bluefish racks… hung over the side. Keep an eye on them cause they will often draw a sneaky one all the way in and you’re not there trying to feed them racks. That close mack can be used for a pitch bait…

 

By Paul Cameron

Wicked Tuna