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Wet Fly Swing Fly Fishing Podcast

Apr 22, 2024

Show Notes:

Presented By: Northern Rockies AdventuresTroutRoutes, Jackson Hole Fly Company

Try to imagine what a 200-pound shark hooked up on the end of your fly rod and jumping 20 feet out of the water would feel like. Hooking sharks on the fly is what today's guest specializes in.

In this episode, Conway Bowman is going to take us into his wild world of mako shark fly fishing. Find out where to find these fish, how to pop your fly to these giants, and the thrilling experience of fighting a top predator on a fly rod.

Show Notes with Conway Bowman on Mako Shark Fly Fishing. 

2:00 - Conway Bowman's passion for fishing began at a young age. He grew up around the water and spent summers in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains. His journey into fly fishing for Mako Sharks began when a friend suggested it, leading Conway to explore offshore waters until he finally hooked his first Mako.

7:55 - Despite not seeing himself as a rockstar in fly fishing, Conway's focus on targeting Mako Sharks has made him a recognized figure due to his unique approach and expertise.

The World of Mako Shark Fly Fishing

8:60 - Between 2007 and 2013, the demand for Mako Shark fly fishing surged, leading Conway to expand his operation and hire additional guides.

At one point, there were a few guides besides Conway involved in Mako Shark fly fishing, but due to the physical demands and logistical challenges, he became the primary figure in the field.

The Mako Shark: The Ultimate Game Fish

Makos are true predators, actively tracking and attacking live prey, which adds to the thrill of targeting them on the fly. They are known for their acrobatics, being the only sharks that can jump up to 20 feet out of the water.

18:00 - Depending on the size, landing a Mako shark can range from 15 minutes to over three hours. When landing, a release stick is used to safely handle the fish, applying pressure to release them.

24:00 - Conway primarily uses poppers when fly fishing for Makos. Other species like leopard sharks and blue sharks can also be targeted with poppers, especially off the beach for leopard sharks.

Mako Shark Life History

26:00 -  Mako Sharks typically arrive in Southern California around May to breed, with large females giving birth to 5-10 live pups.

Pups stay in the safer Southern California waters until they're a few hundred pounds, feeding on smaller fish like tunas and barracudas. As they grow to 300-400 pounds, their diet shifts to larger prey like seals and sea lions.

During colder months, Makos migrate, possibly to regions of Mexico, before returning in waves from April to November, with peak presence from June to August

Best Time to Visit for Mako Shark Fly Fishing

28:22 - Conway recommends mid-May through August and then October through November for Mako Shark fly fishing in Southern California. July is considered prime time for Mako Shark fishing.

Gear for Mako Shark Fishing

Conway uses specialized equipment tailored for handling these powerful predators. Here's a breakdown of the gear he uses:

Rod: Starts with a 14-weight rod and then uses custom-made one-piece rods for larger Makos above 200 pounds.
Reels: Various big game reels suitable for marlin or tuna fishing, with 800 yards of backing.
Casting Technique: Uses an anchor cast technique, avoiding false casts, to efficiently get the fly from point A to point B within 30 feet.
Fly Design: Employs a tube fly that slides up and down the leader, ensuring easy release and retrieval without leaving a big hook hanging from the shark's mouth.

Show Notes: