A massive 926-pound Shortfin mako shark was reeled in by a group of men on a chartered fishing expedition late on Friday night off the coast of New Jersey. The huge shark was 12-foot-long, it was so heavy that it would have shattered the record for largest shark caught in state history, had it not been for how the fishermen on the Jenny Lee reeled it in.
However, the New Jersey's Record Fish Program indicated that a fish must be reeled in by a single person in order to qualify for ranking. However, the fishermen on the boat took turns. That implies that the record for largest shark caught in New Jersey continues to be a 880-pound tiger shark reeled in off Cape May in 1988.
Captain Dave Bender told Asbury Park Press that to be a record only one fisherman can handle the rod. He however insisted that the catch was a great one, though, adding that you can't lose sight of that.
Bender and his first mate Kevin Gerrity took a group of six men from New Jersey out on their fishing boat on Friday for an overnight trip.
The fishermen included Frank Miccio and his sons Mark, Matt and William, as well as friends Matthew Lockett and Nick Rondinella. Bender took his boat out to a fishing ground called Hudson Canyon, about 100 miles off the coast, where they started trolling for tuna.
They managed to catch a 35-pound yellowfin before changing their equipment up to hunt for swordfish and sharks, using a bait of skipjack tuna and squid. Gerrity revealed that the fishing was slow and that they were hoping for a little 200-pound mako or swordfish during the night.
At around 11pm, the group managed to get a bite, at first Gerrity thought they had hooked a very big swordfish. Bender revealed that when he first saw the shark, he thought that they had hooked a great white shark. Although it didn't look real, it was the biggest fish he'd ever seen. The shark’s head was the size of a garbage can.
In a short while, they realized that they had hooked something much, much bigger. The shark, which is the fastest in the world and can reach speeds of up to 40 mph immediately started swimming away, emptying about 500 yards off the line of the reel, jumping out of the water and snapping the top of the fiberglass rod.
The fishermen battled back, taking turns for an hour to help reel the sea monster in so that they could shoot it dead. Gerrity said that they would have thrown the shark back if it was 400 or 500 pounds, but they decided to reel it in because he thought they might be able to set a new record.
The first time they shot at it, the shark sped away. The second time, they were able to injure it, and the third time proved fatal. Mark Miccio told NJ.com that the fish was so big that it kept almost pulling whoever was reeling it in overboard.
After killing the shark, it took another two hours to pull the shark aboard. The group then returned to the boat's dock in Brielle, where they showed off the shark at Hoffman's Marina.
Gerrity cleaned and butchered the shark, sending the group home with the whole fish, the jaws, the tail, everything. The shortfin mako sharks are a migratory species of shark that inhabit offshore areas of temperate and tropical waters.
Their meat and fins are highly valued. They grow to be 10-feet-long and weigh between 130 to 300 pounds, but there have been many notable exceptions showing that they can grow much larger.
The records show that the largest mako shark caught on record is a 1,323-pounder that was reeled in by Jason Johnston in Huntington Beach, California in 2013.