On February 12, a six-man team of land-based shark fishermen inadvertently hooked a 13-foot great white shark while fishing off a beach near Pensacola, Florida. Led by Captain John McLean of Big John’s Shark Fishing Adventures, the crew caught the iconic predator using a giant tuna head as bait. They dragged the shark into the surf, used screw cutters to break the thick wire attached to the bait, then quickly returned the great white to the Atlantic Ocean, all captured on McLean’s GoPro camera. Check it out for yourself below.
McLean typically uses his remote-controlled Aquacat RC bait boat to “cast” shark baits. But in this case, the bait was too big for the e-boat. He has kayaked in similar circumstances in the past, but the last time he did so, his kayak was chased by a marauding shark. This time charter fishing captain David Miller paddled 900 yards into the surf while McLean and his four clients watched from the beach.
McLean had the rig fitted with custom Shark Bound rods mounted on a gimbal mount rod bracket that was supported on the beach by PCV piping. He used Tightline braid and a 1,200-pound-test Big John Shark Rig with a size 24 hook.
As soon as Miller returned to the beach in his kayak, the equipment was put to the test. A shark took the bait and ran away. After the furious run subsided, the anglers reeled again for the next hour and seven minutes. Sometimes during the fight, up to four team members had to support the team.
“My fishing gear was pushed to the limits, but it was up to the task of effectively reeling in this huge white shark,” McLean later told Fox News. “Because I used the right equipment, we were able to make a quick release. Shark fishing and conservation starts with using the right equipment.”
After a grueling struggle, the team collected their catch, freed it from the resistant rig and set it free. McLean said this was the largest white shark he’s ever caught and estimated it to be at least 13 feet long, which would likely put it at more than 1,200 pounds. Great white sharks are federally protected. In Florida, prohibited species such as great whites must remain in the water with their gills submerged when caught. It is illegal to intentionally attack great white sharks.
An OCEARCH-tagged and tracked shark named Maple, last measured at 11 feet, 7 inches and estimated to weigh 1,264 pounds, was spotted in the same area earlier this week. The largest great white shark ever recorded, Deep Blue, was 20 feet long and weighed 4,500 pounds.