by Alton Wallace (See more photos below article. Click on images on
the right to see larger version.)
WALA TV-10's News Coverage
Two Orange Beach Charter Captains and two friends caught a 609-pound Mako shark Monday afternoon in waters just south of Perdido Pass. Captains Wade Weidenbach and Scotty Bowman, partners in the Dirty Deeds fishing team,
hooked the 11-foot-long shark at about 3 p.m. while aboard a 17-foot Cape Horn fishing for redfish on a pleasure trip.
“We saw the shark on top of the water about 400 yards off the beach at the Pass,” Weidenbach
“We were probably about
5 miles straight south of the pass when we finally managed to get the fish under control. It took three hours, it got dark on us and we had help from some friends, some fellow fishermen.”
Weidenbach said the fishing had been excellent, and
then suddenly they knew a big shark was in the area. “I would say there was an
acre of fish that came up on top of the water at one point, so there was a lot
of bait, there were a lot of big fish, there was a lot of activity, there was a
lot of birds, a north wind, a big outgoing current which was flushing the bay
and sending all this stuff out. It was ‘happening’ when we spotted this shark," Weidenbach said.
The two captains had been catching redfish for a couple hours, including some 30
pounders, when Bowman spotted the shark. “I saw him swim by the boat and I said, ‘Look at that shark, get some bait ready and let’s throw it and have some fun’", Bowman said.
“We were goofing off, you know, catching redfish. When he swam by he went past the boat and turned around, came back to the boat. Then I walked from the helm station and stood up on the bow and looked over and realized what he was. His eyes rolled up and looked at me, and I looked at him and I said, ‘MAKO’!
"We lost sight of him, found him again, and threw a chunk of bait at him – one of the redfish we had caught – and he scarfed it up. It was game on after that",
This shark was almost as big as the boat, Bowman said, so they knew they had to proceed carefully. “When I saw him it was like the old Jaws movie – I said, ‘we’re going to need a bigger boat, boys.’”
The giant Mako was caught on a Van Stahl open-faced spinning reel and a custom rod built by Kathy Crues at The Rod Room in Orange Beach. The rod was set up as a king mackerel rig equipped with 40 pound Ande monofilament test line, single strand wire leader and #4 Eagle Claw 4X treble hook. Somehow, it was enough to catch the huge shark.
“All we did was keep light pressure on him and we kept following him, kept following him, and we got on the phone calling for help,” Bowman said. “We needed some help, we needed some firepower. We need a gaffe, a harpoon. Finally, the cavalry showed up.”
Weidenbach said the shark jumped out the water six times during the three-hour fight. “His back fin cleared the water, I would say four feet, with a twist,” he said.
Out in the Gulf, the Dirty Deeds crew was met by Rick Harris on SeaLife, a charter boat, and Stephen Ledbetter, Chuck Eades and Jenny Lynn on a 19-foot pleasure boat. The Dirty Deed’s two deckhands, John Cook and Nikki Paschen, and the Weidenback’s and Bowman’s dogs, Chum and Music, boarded the other vessels. The dogs were “locked in and on point” during the entire time the men were battling the shark, Weidenbach said.
“We got the life jackets out and crossed our fingers,” Weidenbach said. “Mako are real bad about jumping in the boat - you’ve got to be very careful with them.”
Bowman said he had begun to wonder if the shark would ever surface. “When he did, Wade (Weidenbach) hollered ‘It’s showtime, it’s now or never.’ That’s when we stuck him with the gaffe and hoped for the best,” Bowman said.
Four shots from a shotgun had no effects on the shark... “I shot him twice with the gun barrel above the water, and it didn’t do anything,” Weidenbach said. “So then I stuck the barrel under the water right on top of his head and pulled the trigger. It split the barrel and it still didn’t do anything. I shot him again while the barrel was under the water and this time the barrel splintered. I’m going to mount this gun with the shark’s jaws.”
“It’s bizarre to have a fish of this caliber on the beach at this time of year,” Weidenbach said. “It’s not unheard of – they’ll make a push closer in sometimes. But you may see one of this size in ten years, and it’s normally April and not this close in to shore. This was a special thing. We’re fishermen and we’ll probably never see this again, the way it turned out.”
“This fish,” Bowman said, “wasn’t supposed to be here. He should have been a hundred miles off shore eating tuna.”
Paschen, a photographer on-board for the trip, shot photos & video during portions of the battle with the shark.
Click here to visit Nikki's
website, or you can email her at:
Weidenbach and Bowman run charters on a 47-foot Viking from Orange Beach Marina.
You can reach captain Wade at: 251-747-0181.
YouTube Video of the Unloading of the 609 lb Mako Shark
17' Cape Horn lands 11' Mako Shark
Small Hook / Large Shark (note the dime next to the hook)
Nikki Paschen with
Captains Wade Weidenbach & Scotty Bowman