One early morning in San Diego, Chuck and I did our usual abalone dive. And while returning home I decided to go fishing. We hit a school of mackerel and had a great time. Suddenly, I had this crazy idea that I wanted to catch my first shark.
So, we took my 15 Hp Elgin ¼ inch fiberglass boat another mile out to sea. I picked a particular feisty mackerel that was about 5 pounds and instead of using fishhooks on the fish, I used electric tape and taped the hooks on to the fish body plus a 120-pound stainless steel leader. I felt that this would look and feel more like a real fish that is just a bit disabled. (Real shark bait! I thought.) It worked! Something hit it hard and started to take the line out fast. I started the boat to follow the fish, after 45 min. it started to move slower, so I cut the engine and this fish was now towing my boat. Another 45 min. went by and now the fish breaks the surface of the water for the first time. It’s about 1/8th of a mile ahead. Big! Real Big! 14? 18? Feet long? Another 45 min. goes by and this fish is still towing the boat.
Chuck wants me to cut the line because he’s scared. I would not consider it! No Way! I’m not cutting the line, just be cool! Chill-out, Chuck!
So I continue to fight the fish and I’m able to reel him in a bit closer and he swims under the boat. It’s a 14+foot-hammerhead shark. Chuck disagrees and says it’s a 25-foot shark! No I argue water makes things look 25% bigger. I’m not cutting my line! Another 30 min. goes by and the shark starts to really put up a fight to the death. The shark dies! Sharks have no bladder! They sink! So, I rapidly got the boat over to the shark and tried desperately lifting the shark up before it sank too deep. Chuck had to re-arrange every thing on the boat to compensate for me and the shark’s weight.
I got the dead shark up to the boat. It was two feet longer than my 14-foot boat, and 7-800 hundred pounds heavier than the boat. With only a 15 Hp engine I wasn’t going to be towing this shark.
But, I wanted proof! I convinced Chuck that we could tie a slipknot on both ends of the shark and I will cut the top loin of the stake off the entire length of the shark and we would have proof that I caught a 16-foot shark! “But what about all the blood?” Exclaimed Chuck. We’ve got slipknots, if anything goes really wrong, we can just each pull the rope and the fish will be loose to fall. Chuck reluctantly says ok.
So, I pulled out my US Navy knife and start cutting, I had about a 4 foot long shark steak over my shoulders when we both saw a big round black spot coming up fast at us. We dove for the ropes but were a split second too slow!
Something lifted the shark and the entire boat out of the water, and flung us, boat and shark about 15 feet before the slipknots came loose. The boat crashed back into the water. Chuck, fish and scuba tanks came flying toward me.
Between the flying arms, legs, tanks, and fish, I managed to look back only to see a calm top whirlpool with a long trail of blood disappear into the deep blue sea.
We both were slightly hurt from the dings and bangs we got from our scuba tanks and weights, but the level of fear and adrenaline overwhelmed both of us so much so that and we were silent all the way back home. As we came into the harbor I went to the coastguard station and decided to tell them the story. They laughed and said “yes, yes, we do have fish big enough around here to do just that!” “What?!” I asked.
“40- to 60-foot Killer whales! They are abundant around here; they generally go after seals or fools like you guys.”
Chuck swore never, ever, to go fishing again with me and he won’t! To this very day, Chuck, even being African American, will turn as white as a sheet when I ask him to go fishing, and says no!