Forget Fishing; You’re Shark “Hunting!” By Andy Lightbod, Sportsman's News Less than 1-mile from Miami Beach, wherebobbing appetizers, lurk giant man eaters! Having grown up in California and been deep sea fishing since I could reach the rail and chum my breakfast next to my compassionate yet sometimes snickering father, I have been fascinated with shark fishing. And while there are upwards of 34 different species that cruise the Pacific waters, about all I ever tagged were some non- eatable blues, a few small Makos, leopards and the really ugly dog fish. To me, the trophy shark waters were the Great Barrier Reef, the warm waters of South Africa, the giant White Shark waters of legendary Jaws, or a hundred miles from shore in the Caribbean. Mark "The Shark" in his office surrounded by the teeth of his victims. But, to be fishing in the warm gulf stream waters, less than a mile from some of the most favorite white sand beaches, loaded with hundreds of happy swimmers/tourists, and the multi-billion dollar Miami beach skyline as the back-drop…. something seems terribly wrong when the ultra-heavy duty rod/reel mounted on the fighting chair begins to zing and sing like an angry hive of hornets. After all, I’m pretty content using my Steiner Commander binoculars and watching the beach babe action, when sud- denly our legendary shark hunting guide, Captain Mark (The Shark) Quartiano bellows from the bridge of his custom built 43-footer The Striker 1 to all on deck, “Fish on!” First Mate, Tim O’Hare springs into action, jumps into the Lee fighting chair to slow the monster fish’s action, and barks like a young Captain Quint to Kathy to get in the chair immediately. Within seconds, hundreds of yards of line are spooling out as I grab for cameras and hear the voice from the JAWS classic, “this ain’t no little Tommy Cod, this fish—he’d swallow you whole!”. And for the next 2 1/2 hours, the seesaw battle between angler and unseen monster of deep continued. Kat would gain line and we would cheer. And just as quickly, Kat would lose line and we’d offer words of encouragement as you could tell her back ached, her arms and hands cramped and burned. It was a contest that truly was a battle of wills, and victory still was a long way off. For Mark the Shark, this is just another day in paradise in his hunt for monster shark fishing action. Headquartered in his underground bunker office at the Biscayne Bay Marriott in Miami, Florida, there are dozens and dozens of shark jaws that provide the decor for a man that has spent his life catching giant sharks and guiding others to do the same. Including such notables as Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Will Smith, Shaquille O Neal, and now yours truly. Captain Mark on board his boat hunting his favorite predator. Mark also holds more records for catching sharks than any other man alive. He’s fished the waters of South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Hawaii, Bora Bora, and just about anywhere else he can find sharks. In addition to making anglers happy with everything from Hammerheads, Bulls, Threshers, Tigers, giant rays and all the trophy sharks that one can imagine, Mark also works with shark researchers, documenting the animals’ habits, migrations, and scientific data. As I marvel about all that this legendary and some- times controversial King of Monster Fishing has accomplished, Kat finally begins to gain on the biggest shark I’ve ever seen up close and personal. A magnificent 8 foot 10 inch Golden Hammerhead finally shows “color” about 20 feet off the back end of the boat. Kathy is exhausted as the very odd, side-looking fish is roped and brought aboard. Kudos to all, and within a few minutes, we’re back fishing again. This time it’s the head chef, Chef Joe from the Miami seaside award-winning restaurant, A Fish Called Avalon. Unlike Kathy’s hammerhead, Joe’s shark takes off slow and deliberate, and yet equally powerful. After nearly 3 hours, we boat a huge 8 foot, 375-pound bull shark, and decide to call it a day. Wanting to capture the moment and the magnificent splendor of this lifetime experience, Mark made arrangements for the folks at Gray Taxidermy to mount both our sharks. Gray is located in nearby Pompano Beach, has a 70,000 square foot facility and it’s immediately obvious why they are the largest marine taxidermy company in the world! After touring their facilities, we knew that Kathy’s nearly 9-foot Golden Hammer-head would be a world-class winning mount. Kathy in the flying chair after landing her Golden Hammerhead. Having decided that the shark was going to adorn our wall at the Rocky Mountain Television studios, we marveled where the shark would be hanging for all to see, admire, and hear stories about our adventure. Luckily for us… the wall measured 9 feet, 6 inches! The front of Gray Taxidermy's 70,000 Sp. Ft. Studio.