No Fish Story

How a TV station promised a big one but delivered nada

Quartiano is one of the few who has no compunction about bringing 'em back dead. The Fort Lauderdale fishing veteran is bluntly outspoken in his views, and he doesn't mind being called the Darth Vader of the angling community. He claims that there's no point in releasing a caught sailfish because it will die anyway. "There's no reason to cut it loose so it will sink to the bottom," he says. He contends that Jackie herself hoped to have her sailfish mounted, but bridled at the high costs of taxidermy. Quartiano says he donated the dead sailfish to researchers.

The Fort Lauderdale captain is a blathering idiot, Peel suggests. Sailfish that have been caught, tagged, and then released show up by the thousands in subsequent catches, she adds. "The evidence shows clearly that they do survive release," Peel says.

Quartiano himself has a more basic concern. He never got paid, he says.

Mark the Shark and Jackie Johnson celebrate the catch.
Mark Quartiano
Mark the Shark and Jackie Johnson celebrate the catch.

The idea had been for him to participate in the project not for money but for the obvious promotional opportunity. "There's a tradeoff, though," Quartiano says. "You spend all day with somebody, you expect to get something in return."

After realizing the segment would never be broadcast, Mark the Shark sent the show a bill in June: $3,042, including the cost of renting two boats for the day, a standard gratuity for the crew, and four early-morning hours of bait fishing. A month later, after no response from the station, Quartiano's lawyer Karl Schumer says he called Dan Schwab, WSVN's executive producer for special projects, who lightheartedly dismissed the bill. "He said it was the source of great laughs in the office," Schumer says. Quartiano is suing in Miami-Dade Small Claims Court.

"He offered us a free ride to do a story on sport fishing," WSVN's Jacobs says. "All of his claims are false, he's trying to give a false impression of Channel 7, and he's motivated by his lawsuit."

Mark the Shark professes to be disillusioned. Jackie is a big disappointment in person, he says. "Honestly, she's overrated to the max," Quartiano says. "I don't want to say she's a mannequin, but she's pretty weak personality-wise. And physically, well, she's, uh, very wiry. I don't know what TV does for her, but it's not the same in person."

Step back, please. Tailpipe is just going to pull down the garage door and settle in for a long dark hibernation.

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