Bay Village kids team up to reel in a 692-pound mako shark during Florida spring break: Outdoors Notes

Sam Von Duhn (left to right), Tony Musca Jr. and Ryan Roberts play baseball and basketball at St. Raphael School in Bay Village. On spring break last week the trio of 12-year-olds tried tag team wrestling with a 692-pound mako shark off the Florida Coast.

(Photo courtesy of Mark Von Duhn)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Sam Von Duhn, Tony Musca Jr. and Ryan Roberts play baseball and basketball at St. Raphael School in Bay Village. On spring break last week the trio of 12-year-olds tried tag team wrestling with a 692-pound mako shark off the Florida Coast.

The sixth graders, aboard Double Nickel Charters out of Longboat Pass, near Sarasota, Florida, took turns battling the shark. In less than a half hour, they fought the huge shark to the gaff for the fish story of a lifetime.

"Sam and his older brothers, Jon and Scott, grew up fishing with their grandfather, Len Kopowski," said Mark Von Duhn. "He kept his boat, Nugget, on Lake Erie near Port Clinton, and got them all hooked on walleye. Sam started deep sea fishing with me on our Florida vacations when he was seven years old, catching grouper, snapper and just about any fish that would bite."

This spring, Sam’s buddies wanted to go fishing with him in Florida, and so did their fathers, Tony Musca and Jeff Roberts. With Capt. Nicholas Froelich at the helm of Double Nickel Charters, the group stopped at a couple of near-shore locations to fish for bait, then headed 28 miles offshore to target amberjack and other game fish.

Amberjack are tough, voracious fighters and guaranteed to test a kid’s resolve. The skipper picked a productive spot near a wreck in 90 feet of water, and the boys lowered lines and live bait. Everyone was in a catching mode, hauling in hefty amberjack until they began to lose rigs and bait, undoubtedly to a hungry shark.

"I asked the kids if they wanted to switch from amberjacks to sharks," said Von Duhn. "They couldn’t wait to lower hooks baited with big chunks of the 10-pound amberjack we’d caught."

They quickly had a very heavy fish on the line and first mate Will Froelich set the hook. Musca was the first youngster to handle the heavy fishing rod, battling the unseen adversary for about 10 minutes. Roberts took his turn, making some headway, then Von Duhn took over. The skipper finally spotted the fish’s blue back and white belly as it came to the surface, proclaiming their catch a mako shark.

"Mako sharks are good to eat, so we decided the kids could keep it," said Von Duhn. The impressive jaws were removed to become a traveling trophy for the young anglers.

Considered the speedsters of the shark world, makos swim as fast as 30 miles per hour. The shark’s skin and fin samples were donated to the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratories in Sarasota.

"Sam was pretty happy, catching such a huge fish and doing it with his buddies," said Von Duhn. "Despite the long day on the water, though, when we got to the dock he wanted to go right back out and catch some grouper and snapper. He’d fish all day, every day if we let him."

Boat show at Catawba: The Lake Erie Marine Trades Association has its 10th annual Catawba Island Boat Show on Friday through Sunday at the Catawba Island Club. Admission and parking are free and local balladeer Steve Brownell is performing. Show hours are: Friday, noon-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

More than 100 boats are on display, ranging from expensive motor yachts to small inflatable boats.

FishCrazy for walleye: The Lake Erie FishCrazy Spring Walleye Derby begins Sunday and runs through June 28. Entry is $50 per angler, with $10 one-day permits sold. Only online entries are accepted. Visit The derby has weekly, monthly and overall winners.

Fish for Free Days: The spring fishing is beginning to lure anglers to ponds and lakes around Northeast Ohio, but don’t worry about rushing to purchase an Ohio fishing license. Saturday and Sunday are Fish For Free Days, a two-day amnesty for unlicensed Ohio anglers.

An estimated 1.3 million people will cast a lure or live bait this year around the Buckeye State. The Ohio Division of Wildlife is hoping those who have not fished in quite a while, or want to give it a try, will get hooked this weekend.

A weekend opportunity for young anglers less than 16 years is the ODOW Youth Fishing Ponds at the Akron District Office, 912 Portage Lakes Dr., Akron. The well-stocked ponds are open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, and on subsequent summer weekends beginning on Memorial Day weekend.

Mosquito Madness: The biggest little bass tournament around, $20,000 Mosquito Madness IX takes over Mosquito Reservoir in Trumbull County on Saturday and Sunday. Watch the best of the local bass anglers weigh their catch at the state park boat launch.

Missed by a burp: Ronnie Rhodes of Sheffield Lake made a big rush on Saturday in the Cabela’s National Walleye Tournament opener on the Detroit River at Trenton, Michigan, but a small yellow perch cost Rhodes a really big payday.

Rhodes said an 8-pound walleye in his live well burped up a 7-inch perch. That left Rhodes in second place, a meager .18 pounds behind winner Dan Stier of Mina, S.D. Both targeted walleye around the Bass Islands.

Stier won $73,780 in cash and prizes with a two-day catch of 84.67 pounds, trolling spinner rigs and nightcrawlers. Rhodes, who operates Fintastic Walleye Charters, relied on a purple sunfire Reef Runner diving plugs to weigh 84.49 pounds, winning $17,124. Pro angler Ryan Buddie of North Ridgeville was 12th with 79.01 pounds. His partner on the final day, John Hoyer of Orono, Minnesota, won the amateur crown with 85.92 pounds.

Out and about: The Geauga Bowmen have a two-day free swap meet and 3-D Archery Shoot on May 10-11 at its Chesterland grounds. … The Waldo Peppers Lake Erie Walleye Trail Tournament weighs in at Lakevue Marina at Lakeside, on Marblehead, on Saturday at 3 p.m. … The Goodyear Hunting & Fishing Club has a trout derby at Little Turtle Pond in Akron for special needs children and adults on May 10.

For a complete listing of outdoor events, visit

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