Thresher Obsession

 By Johnny Ceviche

Summer is just around the corner and fishing is getting better each day that goes by. Since the water temperature have risen to 66 degrees F, I've noticed the steady haul of Yellow Tail amongst kayak fishermen in SoCal, San Diego in particular. I have also noticed the haul on Thresher Shark is on the rise all along Southern California Coast from Malibu Beach down to San Diego area. The following is a story about my personal quest for a magnificent creature Thresher Shark. Since early Spring 2004 I've always rigged for Thresher Shark and nothing else in spite of WSB and YT getting caught on the weekly basis. After several weeks of  searching I discovered several of their feeding grounds. One day I had four big strikes, four long runs with nothing to show for except for a straightened treble hook on my rapala lure. I'm quiet convinced that it is the work of the Thresher Shark. I was trolling along my CD-14 rapala about 40 feet behind the kayak, tied to a 80 lb monofilament leader at about 200 feet of water @ 67 degree F. I came to a school of bait that is being pushed to the surface when all of a sudden I noticed my fishing pole gets bend followed by the a short clicking of the reel zzzzzzzzz. I thought that to be the tail whacking the bait so, I coasted the kayak to allow the lure to sink slowly simulating a stunned bait and waited for about 10 seconds. As I have anticipated the clicker goes off as if it will never end  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!  I set the hook and my kayak got towed that lasted just a few seconds due to a failed rusty hook. I went home empty handed that day all along thinking of whatever the mistake I have done for not connecting on four big strikes. Lesson learned no rusty hooks and no more dull hooks. The following week I went back to the same general area. This time armed with new CD-14 rapala in sardine,mackerel and mullet color pattern. I arrived at LJ beach before sunrise. There I noticed six other kayaks already rigged and ready to launch while others are already out on the water.
Most kayak fishermen are headed towards the South in hope to get a WSB, a Thresher Shark  and  YT where they are most concentrated. I headed North towards the Scripps canyon where I thought to be a better Thresher Shark feeding ground. Once in front of Scripps pier I set out the mullet patterned rapala and commenced trolling in a cress cross pattern from 150 to 200 feet of water.  Following my GPS mark I headed to the area where I had the big strikes a week before. Upon arriving in the area at 7:00 AM an instant replay of the week before, a bait ball in the surface, as I circle the bait ball and ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ  stripping about 15 yards of line. I set the hook and the beast took off stripping more lines and towed my kayak. Then the beast doubled back towards the kayak,  I wind the line as fast as I could without gaining line tension. For a moment I thought I've lost the fish but then the fish dove down to 80 feet deep and stayed there like an anchor. I took this opportunity to reset the drag on my reel to make sure the line wouldn't break or the hook pull off the fish. Gauging from the strength of the fish this one is much bigger than any 50 lb WSB that I have ever land before. I also had my camera hanging by my neck for some action shuts. After ten minutes of tag o war the fish decided to surface and started it's acrobatic move. Only then I realized that I have a Thresher Shark at the end of the line. First the dorsal fin came out of the water then the thrashing tail. It leaped out of the water three times like that of the dolphins then it disappeared only to leap out of the water in a vertical position like a missile launched from a submarine. Three long hours of battle with the beast have taken us over three miles. The Shark pulled my kayak one mile towards the West at the depth of 230 feet with the shark bottoming at 200 feet then turning around towards South East for about 3/4 mile, then to the North ending at a depth of 120 feet. All this time I've paced myself and prepared for a marathon fight. I've drunk all my water supply and ate two granola bars by 10:00AM. 
I've noticed the Thresher Shark have been holding steady 40 feet below the kayak and have not been putting much of a fight so I tightened the drag on the reel and started putting more pressure. Slowly I started to gain line inch at a time. At 25 feet below the shark came to color, I can clearly see that the shark is hook very well just below it's lips and is not going to get away. I am so impressed of the size, beauty and strength of this creature estimated to be better than 100 lbs. Once the shark is along side the kayak I grab a hold of it's tail and held it there until it has stopped fighting which took a good 15 minutes. I put the tail rope, secured it to the kayak and then retrieved my rapala. I noticed that the sharp hook was the key to my success. It was able to penetrate the sharks thick and tough skin. Being alone I pulled the shark out of the water one inch at a time by leaning on one side of the kayak while using the weight of the shark as the counter weight as I pulled. Half hour later I finally was able to secure the shark at the bow of my kayak. It is now 11:00  AM the wind is now blowing at 10 MPH, some white caps are now visible with 1 foot wind wave. I have miles of paddling to do all against the wind.  The waves goes over the kayak when ever I get hit from the side and on the bow filling the kayak with water thus slowing my progress. After over 1 hour of hard paddling I made it to the beach dry. At the beach I met Tim and Pat. Tim on his third kayak outing successfully landed a Thresher Shark also in the range of 100 plus pounds. Knowing what I know now my view of the Thresher Shark will forever change.  I'll give them more respect and never under estimate their strength. I definitely admire their beauty, strenght and practicemore catch and release further more to be selective in the take.

Tight lines and safe fishing,