Now available_: _ Video of this catch!
Talk about polar opposites. Abel’s Jeff Patterson thought he was going fly-fishing for carp last Friday – but he ended up catching a Great White shark instead!
Patterson, sales director at Abel Reels, had spent the previous day fishing makos and blues with Capt. Conway Bowman off the California coast. They’d had a good outing, but the duo planned to head inland the next day to sight-fish some carp. Things changed in the eleventh hour, though.
“The conditions were looking really good offshore again, so we decided to hit it one more time,” Patterson said. “I was glad!”
You bet he was.
They slammed two more nice makos on fly that day(on a Scott 15-weight rod, matched with an Abel Super 13 and a RIO Leviathan line), along with a couple big blues. Then something caught Patterson’s eye back in the chum slick.
Bowman teased up what they thought was an extremely big mako to within distance, and then Patterson delivered a foot-long Bob Deibel bonito pattern.
The shark promptly chomped the offering, turned his head and Patterson came tight.
“As soon as he realized he was hooked, he was off,” Patterson said. “At least 275 yards. Conway wasn’t comfortable with it being so far out, so for the first time in two days, we chased one of these sharks down.”
After about 25 minutes, when it finally came boat side, they realized what they had.
“We had no idea until I managed to get its head out of the water and we saw those teeth,” Patterson said, “Then Conway hollered, ‘Oh my god, it is a Great White!’ We were carrying on like a couple little girls!”
Of course, targeting great whites is illegal and those that are caught incidentally must be immediately and carefully released. Patterson said while he was nervously eyeing those triangular choppers, Bowman executed what he termed “a perfect release.”
“It was textbook,” he said. “The shark was absolutely fine.”
The catch is one of only a few Great Whites reportedly caught off the California coast with a fly rod and single-action fly reel. But Patterson’s not worried about all that business.
“I don’t want to lay claim to any of that,” he said. “It was just a neat experience. We sat there for an hour afterwards giggling! My trip was already made after those makos, but this was really remarkable. It was almost otherworldly. Such an amazing creature – it had these big shoulders and a beautiful brownish color that turned into white on the belly. I’ll never forget it.”
And it sure beat a stinkin’ old carp!
Meanwhile, here’s another rather interesting web video making the rounds. Apparently filmed at Blue Horizon Lodge in Belize, it gives new meaning to the words stalking tarpon. A word to the wise, though: Don’t try this on a regular basis with your favorite fly reel. Blue Horizon, of course, is the home of famed guide Lincoln Westby, who ironically, is the subject of a story on in the next issue (September/October) of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters.