Shark season has begun on the Mid Atlantic coast and mako shark fishing can be incredibly exciting, but there are some basic ways you’ll want to rig your boat which are sometimes overlooked by new shark anglers. For once, this isn’t just a matter of catching more fish; in this case it’s as much about protecting your boat and yourself, when you do catch that fish – because they don’t come any meaner or more dangerous then mako.

By now just about everyone’s seen the video of that incredibly smart angler who stuck his hand into the mouth of a captured mako shark. Predictably, the beast chomped down on the guy, splattering blood all over the deck. Good move, buddy. Some of us have also seen the follow-up video, where the “captain” of this brilliant crew exclaims with gusto  “Our first aid kit consisted of a dirty rag and a roll of duct tape.” Yet even anglers as brain-challenged as these guys can eliminate the danger of a captured mako by fitting out their boat with one simple extra item: a five gallon bucket with a 10 foot length of rope tied to the handle. When you get a mako secured up next to the boat, slide the bucket over its snout, pull the rope taunt, and tie it around the fish’s tail. You’ll be safe from there on out even if you have someone aboard who, like those video stars, has the IQ of a conch.

The second thing you’ll want to prep is an old sheet. Mako invariably thrash and roll next to the boat, as you secure them in place and/or bring them over the gunwale, if you need to do so. (It’s safest to tie them off on rails or cleats and hang the fish outside the boat whenever possible, but obviously, on some boats and/or with some sharks this isn’t an option.) The shark’s skin is like sandpaper, and it’ll scratch the shiny surface right off your hullsides. So before you start the process, hang the sheet over the side of your boat to protect it. Use these two basic rigging items, and your day of sharking is sure to go smoother and with a little luck, you’ll end up coming home like these happy guys:

mako shark fishing boats

Tommy, Moe, and the crew, after a safe and successful day of mako shark fishing. Photo by John Unkart.

Note to sharkers and sharker wannabes: sharking expert Capt. Mark Sampson has a great book called Modern Sharking, which details all aspects of shark fishing – and it’s where I first learned about these tips. You can get it at