West Coast Flying
Greg Stotesbury knows about handling sharks, too. We left the Newport Beach, Calif., marina in his boat with the sun trying hard to burn through the haze of an angry-looking dawn. Just days before I'd arrived, the ocean had been totally alive-free-jumping makos were in good numbers. But the weather had cooled and things had turned sour. While trolling I picked up a 50-pound mako, a lucky catch since my leader had no wire. We began chumming near a kelp paddy. My friend Ken Carman was up with a fly when a mako rushed in. Stotesbury teased it with a live mackerel tethered through the sinuses Hawaiian harness-style, and the fish nearly ate Ken's big-eyed white fly a couple of times before turning timid and fleeing. "Funny thing, out here," Greg said. "These makos seem to go for darker flies, black or brown with only a little flash." In most of the world, white is right, and orange, chartreuse, red and yellow are just fine. Most veteran sharkers' experience with makos is a history of aggression, not timidity. And Greg's is no exception. "We once had a hooked jumper that fell in the boat," he says. "We were like cats clawing to reach anything that gave elevation while the thing snapped its way across the cockpit, then got a grip on the teak rod rack. While he was chewing that apart, I quieted him with a club enough to get him out."