We left the dock in Ft. Lauderdale at 5 p.m. and set up our first drift at 6:30. After an hour of fishing, we hooked up with a 50-pound swordfish that was released by my father after a 20-minute battle. We reset our drift and things were quiet until 10 p.m. when the tip rod that was 50 feet below the boat started bouncing. Greg reeled in the live tinker mackerel to within 25 feet from the boat, where a sword got a hold of it and headed south.
Greg fought the fish for 90 minutes before making any real progress. Every time he would gain 100 feet of line, the fish would effortlessly rip it back off. At 11:30, the fish seemed to get a second wind and made a big run. We thought it was over, but Greg suddenly started gaining line quickly and after 20 more minutes, we could see a light rising under the boat. We readied the gaff and took a shot as soon as she was within reach. The fish just laid there motionless as we brought it in through the transom door and we slid it onto the deck before ever noticing anything peculiar. Suddenly, we noticed that the swordfish had no bill and half of its tail was missing. There were also slashes on its belly. We realized that a big shark had to have done this kind of damage and we quickly reached out and shut the transom door.
Knowing that the shark was probably still nearby, we slit open the stomach of the swordfish and started tossing out the contents while we attached a shark rig to one of the rods. As soon as we did this, a huge shadow appeared off the bow and began circling the boat. There was blood all over the deck so we took a bucket of water and rinsed the blood out through the scuppers. This really got the shark going. That shadow became clearer as it got closer and the blood in the water was too much for it to resist. Suddenly we had a mako that was easily over 500 pounds trying to stick his nose into the scupper hole. The Predator has a 12-foot beam and this shark was longer than that and just inches from our feet.
Even after the two-hour fight with the swordfish, Greg was ready to do battle with this beast, so he took a small piece of swordfish and put it on his hook. He flipped it out the back of the boat, but the shark wasn't interested at first. She kept her nose right up against the scupper while the bait drifted 20 feet back. Greg Salsburg grabbed the leader and pulled it in until he was able to dangle it on the mako's nose. The shark rolled and took the bait before resuming her search for whatever was coming out the scuppers. She didn't even know she was hooked. We thought about hitting her with the flying gaff but had heard the stories of green makos spinning into the boat and doing more damage than any of us wanted, so we decided we needed to fight this fish on rod and reel before gaffing it.
Greg yanked on the rod two or three times to let the shark know she was hooked and the shark took notice. The mako took off on a long run before making a huge leap out of the water and landing on the main line, breaking it clean.
Here we were, with a 200-pound swordfish on the deck, yet the only thing any of us could think about was the shark. It was easily the biggest fish any of us had ever been inches away from and more impressive than any living thing we'd ever experienced. We headed home and tried to figure out what exactly had happened.
Our best guess is that Greg's battle was developing into a standoff before this mako came along and got interested in the sword. The sword made a huge run to get away from the shark but it was not enough. The mako took away the swords weapon (its bill) and its motor (its tail) before making the move for the meat (the belly). Greg probably got that fish to the boat just before it was going to be finished off by the mako. The swordfish weighed in at 203 pounds after the damage was done.