Poor Sport

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Deep Thoughts, Fishy & Random
Tags: , , ,

In an earlier post, I had some fun describing a Mako shark sighting in Dana Point Harbor. As I was trying to point out, the spectacle of a major predator cruising inside a boat basin is unusual, and awesome. This morning, I woke to find there was more going on than the videos convey.

Apparently Joel Colombo (a charter boat Captain) and Jordan McNaughton (his cousin), took it upon themselves to remove the wayward Mako shark from the harbor. What I had positioned as a story awe and wonder, has now turned to mis-guided glory-hounding.

Here is an excerpt of the article written by Andrea Swane of the Dana Point Times (read the complete article with photos here) :

“I couldn’t believe my eyes; it looked like a Mako so we put a line out and the shark took it right away, quickly broke the line and swam toward the Wind & Sea Restaurant with the hook still imbedded in its mouth,” said Colombo. “We started up the boat and followed it to the bait barge.”

According to Colombo, the duo then snuck up on it once, it sunk out and then popped back up. When the shark reappeared, McNaughton quickly gaffed it.

“The shark rolled with so much power that it snapped the gaff in two,” said Colombo. “At this point we knew it was really wounded and if we didn’t bring it in it would probably have been cranky and dangerous for a while and then later died. We decided to keep pursuing it and about an hour and a half later we saw it near the JollyRoger.”

They pulled the boat up next to it and McNaughton hit it with a second gaff and Colombo followed with a third. They were finally able to get a rope around its tail, get the flailing fish under control and pull it up on to the swim step of their boat.

Colombo said that by this time there was a group of onlookers watching and he thinks that some may have gotten the wrong idea by seeing only the end of the pursuit.

What idea were the onlookers supposed to get? Were they supposed to think that these two had been planning for days, honing their skills, investing their time, sweat and hard earned angling credentials in this life and death struggle? This was on-par with running down a rabid raccoon with a truck. Sure, they did swimmers and paddleboarders a favor of not having to worry about the shark biting them, but to label the episode a “pursuit” is laughable. Further posing with the animal as a trophy is adding insult to our collective intelligence. There was no fair chase here, this was a drive-by gaffing. This fish was sick and clearly disoriented. This was a pest control situation, not a fishing expedition.  The manner in which this animal was captured and dispatched was messy & shameful. This in no way resembles the “sport” of angling, or the fishermen that I so dearly love and support. Thanks for taking out a hazard, but there is no glory here for anyone.
  1. JM says:

    Was game and fish asking for this animal to be removed? I’m not much on killing for the sake of killing. I could say a lot more , but I’ll bite my tongue. Seems like a biologist could have been consulted to see if the fish was really sick or just recovering from a successful spawn. Sad stuff.

  2. Hook Ideas says:


    Thanks for the thought. From the article I cannot tell if there was any effort to assess the situation by a professional biologist. That was my first thought; get a shark expert on the phone. In all candor, I’ve killed sharks, and I’ve posed with the carcasses. My fish came after many months of trying, and with great expenditure of effort learning their behavior and working to hook one with fair means. I’m a hard core angler, and a die hard meat-o-phile, but this story left a bad taste in my mouth and pain in my heart.

  3. JM says:

    Left a bad taste in my mouth too. I’ve killed plenty of sharks and I eat most of what I catch , but it’s all legal. Hitting a shark with a gaff , breaking a gaff and having it get away , is just BS. It would have been a good fish to tag and see what would happen.

    Probably what makes me the angriest is the fact that we don’t know a whole heckuva lot about how and where sharks spawn. I’ve caught sharks down to about 15 inches in calm waters that are probably much like your harbor. It would be a damn shame if those guys killed a recovering mother after she gave birth. Just my two cents , but stuff like this is why we need good , science based regs.

  4. Hook Ideas says:


    Near the end of the article, Joel Colombo claims the shark was male. He further adds that he only keeps 3 sharks a year and he always throws back females.

    OK, that sounds good on paper, but my skeptical mind begs the questions: As the gender-specific hardware on a shark, this one included, is on its undercarriage, how could you possibly identify the sex of this animal BEFORE sinking a gaff into it?

    It’s my belief that his claim comes from his attempt to appease his own guilty conscience, and to negate the ridiculous spectacle he created.

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