Fishing trip turns into battle with mako shark for Cherko family

From left: Garrison Clark, Austin Martin, Jessica Kroke, Kyle Cherko and Jeremy Fournier with a mako shark.
From left: Garrison Clark, Austin Martin, Jessica Kroke, Kyle Cherko and Jeremy Fournier with a mako shark. Photo provided

One of the top predators in the ocean is the mako shark. Makos are fast and agile with the ability to track down a tuna, wahoo or billfish for a meal. When hooked, they often put on aerial displays in the open ocean that leave anglers with lifelong memories of huge back-to-back jumps.

In addition to their acrobatic ability, mako sharks also make great table fare. It closely resembles a swordfish and is probably the best eating shark in the ocean.

Mako meat is pretty low in fat while full of flavor. Their aggressive nature often leads them to seek out weakened fish that have been hooked that makos perceive as free meals.

During the winter anglers venturing into the Gulf have the occasional run-in with mako sharks, and some head out prepared for such an encounter. Last weekend the Cherko family was far offshore fishing for snapper. Thanks to their preparation, they were able to bring a giant into their boat.

“We were prepared, we always have a mako rig standing by,” Kyle Cherko said. “This is the second we have gotten.”

While fishing 70 miles offshore for yellowtail snapper, the family saw a mako try to take advantage of their hooked fish for an easy meal.

“They kept eating our yellowtail when we hooked it,” Kyle Cherko said. “We had an idea they were around; as soon as we showed up to our spot one aired out, so we knew no more snapper fishing, just straight mako shark fishing.”

They rigged up a chunk of barracuda on a Tiagra 50-wide. A long piece of steel leader with a big hook was needed to keep the shark’s razor sharp teeth from cutting the line. The bait was eaten, and the aerial show began.

“It jumped five times probably 20 or 30 feet in the air,” Cherko described excitedly. “We hooked it right before sunset and fought it into the night. After about 30 minutes we had it up to the boat.

“It took all five of us to lift it into the boat and when it came in it latched onto the back step of the boat and took out some nice gel coat dings.”

With the shark finally subdued they got a measurement. It was nearly nine feet long, “and might tasty,” Cherko said.