To celebrate Shark Week 2020, enjoy this story from the July 28, 1977 issue of The East Hampton Summer Sun in which a massive shark is caught off Montauk.
A ONE-THOUSAND-THIRTY-NINE POUND MAKO SHARK by Jimmy George [Montauk Marin Basin via Westlake Fishing Lodge 1977]. No longer available.
It was a peaceful, sunny Sunday at the Montauk Marine Basin. Late in the afternoon, when the weekend shark tagging tournament had ended, a large group of fishermen were standing around, enjoying the ceremonies in which Carl Darenberg and marine biologist Jack Casey were handing out the trophies to the winners. Just then, an excited fisherman ran in.
‘’Someone’s caught a giant mako,” he shouted. “It must be over a thousand pounds. They brought it into the Westlake Fishing Marina but it broke the scale.”
“Tell them to bring it over hero,” Mr. Darenberg said.
Half an hour later, the small 27* Silverton fishing boat arrived from the other end of the Harbor. Towed alongside was a fish that was almost half the size of the boat. The fishermen on board, Jimmy George of West Patterson, New Jersey, together with James Kooz, Richard Manos, Robert George and Doug George, all from New Jersey, began to maneuver the fishing boat “CRAPS 2-6’s” over toward the dockside scale.
Word travels fast in Montauk. Within minutes, cars began arriving with excited tourists and fishermen, anxious to see this giant fish brought in for weighing. Cars parked all along West Lake Drive, from Underwood’s Motel up to the launching ramp. Within an hour, there would be an estimated one thousand people at the Marine Basin to view this fish.
Jimmy George, who was the captain of the small fishing boat, described how they had caught the fish.
“We left Saturday night about 8 o’clock, out of Westlake and we planned to go all night fishing, which we did. Then, at 7 a.m., right about dawn this morning, we hooked in to this monster. He leaped out of the water six times by my count. The first time, he must have jumped 30 feet into the air and I couldn’t believe the size of him. He must have been eleven or twelve feet long. We only had 100 pound test mono and line on the reel and I never thought we could hold him. We’d just have to.give him some play and let him tow us around so we could tire him out.
“You know, if he towed us out toward sea, we would have had to cut the line. We were 50 miles due south of Montauk Point, in about 40 fathoms of water, and if he towed us away from land we would never have been able to get back. But he didn’t. He towed us north, toward Montauk.
“There was no way I could handle this fish all by myself. We all fought him. All five of us. It took us about four and a half hours but in the end we had him and we brought him alongside. We got back in to Montauk about 4 p.m.”
The fish was winched up on the giant scale they have there at the Marine Basin. He weighed in at one thousand and thirty-nine pounds. About twenty pounds short of the world record. His length was eleven feet nine inches, his girth was six feet around, and his teeth measured one and a half to one and three quarter inches long.
Jack Casey, the marine biologist who had come down from Narragansett, Rhode island for the tournament, missed his ferry in all the excitement. He wound up staying far into the night, examining this rare specimen of a mako shark. Sharks of this size are very rarely caught.
And then, after about a one hour delay, the awarding of the trophies for the Shark Tag Tournament was resumed. Over 125 boats had participated in this weekend long tournament. There were over 1,000 anglers. 252 sharks were tagged and let go, and about 160 sharks (blues, mako, sandbar and dusky), were brought in for judging. The winner of the tournament was John Wright of New York City, who boated a 296 lb. Mako aboard his ship, the “Joint Venture.” The largest fish brought in was by Don Varian of Stamford, Connecticut, who boated a 512 lb. Dusky aboard his boat, “All Hours.” The largest Blue was a 269 lb. monster that Gail Buchanan of Montauk brought in aboard the boat “Peggy.”
However, nothing could compare with the shark that Jimmy George and his men had caught. It was a “late entry” and didn’t win a trophy, but it sure caused a lot of excitement.