Monday, May 14, 2007

Shark snared, then freed

There was a picture of the Shark in the printed Maui news paper.
The 2 fishermen were real happy.

Shark snared, then freed

By EDWIN TANJI, City Editor

MAKENA – It wasn’t the first, and it probably won’t be the last tiger shark that David Baker will catch and release.

But the 8-foot-long predator Baker hauled in Saturday morning at Poolenalena Beach, also known as Chang’s Beach, may achieve a little extra notoriety since it showed up offshore just a few days after a large shark nipped at a woman snorkeling about a mile up the coast.

Still, the Kahului resident said he saw no reason not to return the shark to the sea.

"There are thousands and thousands of sharks out there. I’ve returned them all, and I’ve never had any problems with sharks," he said. "I know they bite people, but that’s the ocean. That’s where they live, and people killing one or two sharks, that’s not going to do anything to stop them from biting.

"Anyway, it’s illegal to leave a dead shark on the beach."

For Baker, a manager at Mama’s Fish House, the fish specialty restaurant in Kuau, there was never any doubt he would release the shark. He said he had hooked up with a smaller shark at about 7 p.m. Friday as he set up for his overnight fishing trip and also released it.

"I’ve been fishing there for about 25 years. I’ve caught plenty of sharks, 20 or 30 over the years, and I’ve let them all go."

If there was any issue at all, it was that he didn’t hook up with any ulua, which was what he was after. But he said he’s previously caught an ulua after first pulling in a shark, so he doesn’t think the sharks sniffing at his bait were keeping the ulua at bay.

It was just a matter of fisherman’s luck. But getting the strike at about 6 a.m. as the sunrise began to glow behind Haleakala made the morning interesting, at least.

"He was very strong, very strong," he said. "It took like an hour to bring him in."

He said he let his son, Jacob Baker, and his son’s buddy, Kapono Kong, have a turn at trying to bring in the powerful fish pulling the line out to sea.

"I’m a little sore today. He was a challenge," David Baker said.

He said he also realized early in the fight that he was bringing in a shark, from the way it pulled steadily rather than in spurts. He said he has been fishing all his life since his father was a commercial fisherman in California and his uncle owned a sport-fishing boat.

"Pretty much right away, I knew it was a shark. It was so heavy and not typical of an ulua fight."

Once on shore, the swivel on the leader snapped, and after taking a few photographs, Baker said he and Jacob grabbed the shark’s tail and pulled it back to the edge of the shore where a wave lifted it. He estimated it was 8 feet long and weighed around 300 pounds.

"He was a beefy bugger."

Once it was afloat, Baker said he kept a hold of its tail to keep it pointed into the shorebreak and eventually, it slid into water deep enough to swim out.

He said he felt no need to fear the shark, which probably headed away as quickly as it could.

"Me and my son went for a swim after. The water was awesome, clean and smooth."


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