Since the very first time man has gazed upon the world’s oceans, the quest to uncover the mysteries and allure of the sea has been driving man to unlock it secrets, its mystique, and to conquer the beast that live within the blue fields that are the seas of the world. Every man has their own definition of what it may be to conquer the sea, from the first seafarers, whom wanted to explore and discover new lands and people abroad, or divers, questing to find ancient wrecks or civilizations lost through time into the abyss, to the fisherman, whom have longed to conquer the beasts of the sea, may it be early whalers or the modern day anglers. Even though all these pioneers and visionaries embarked on their quests in much different ways, the goal was mutual, to beat the unknown, and to conquer the sea. Story's of the ocean's denizens have been told since the beginning of our existence on this planet, ranging from the monsters spotted abroad on year long voyages, to the tales of ships being taken down and crews vanishing to mysterious creatures of the deep. Tales of tragedy and triumph have been passed down for thousands of years about the ocean and its dangers and riches, which drives us to the sea in search of peace, prosperity, and immortality. This is where our story begins........................
From the time I was just a mere three years old, I have had an unfounded infatuation with the ocean and its creatures, specifically the most dangerous and perhaps the most mysterious of all the animals that roam the blue plains, the shark. From the time I reached twelve years old, all I wanted to do was go and pursuit and capture these animals, to feed the need of my infatuation for the shark. In the last eleven years, shark fishing has given me the opportunities to witness some of the most amazing feats I could ever imagine to witness, and to take me places I had never dreamed before, this is all on top of meeting some of the craziest, and best people I may ever meet in life. These people over the years have been crazy enough to buy what I sold them, and go out on some of the most dangerous and senseless expeditions you could ever conceive, just to be able to be part of, or witness something special.
The quest began when another major turning point in life had just hit home, I was down and out and I would be lying to you if i didn't say I was a bit depressed. So naturally, I did what I had to do to bring myself out of the now impairing mood I was in, and that was to go hit the shoreline in search of one last nice fish for the season. The newest member of the team Tyler had the itch as well, while others were un motivated or work was holding them back from the commitment we needed from them to accomplish the task at hand. Winter was on the horizon and with a strong front on the way (the first of the year) we knew our window for a decent fish before years end was a small one, about ten days to
be exact. Also, I felt in debt to Tyler as he was one of the few there to help me land my fish of a
life time, and him being without a nice fish of his own under the belt, I figured it was time to repay the favor and gear up the truck and go chase what potentially was roaming the coastline.
The first couple of days of the expedition consisted of just soaking some baits in random places and trying to see if we could make a withdrawal out of the "bank" and enjoy a nice catch without too much effort. But unfortunately, as usual, this wasn't the case. The first couple of nights were full of a lot of disappointment and negative thoughts, our reels had not made a sound in over 30 hours of fishing at this point in time, and it appeared that bait was nowhere to be found.
However, on the third night of our stint, in the middle of a silent and still Florida night, one of the
reels let out that slow steady cry that we have longed for. We instantly jumped up and kicked into gear to try to get the hook set in this specimen that thought it was making a slow and cocky get away. I told Tyler to grab the rod and throw it into gear and wait to come tight. And I recall vividly saying "This is a nice fish Tyler! Don’t mess it up!" This obviously put a little bit of fear into Tyler’s approach to picking up the rod, because when he picked it up, he froze dead in his tracks, he had just watched the line creep slowly off the reel, as I watched in silence next to him for a few short moments until the line abruptly went slack, and the fish was gone....
Demoralized in the fact that a potentially nice fish had just slipped away, morale had risen a bit
knowing now that something was lurking in the new area we had chosen to fish. We rounded up some more bait the next day and headed out, in hopes of getting another shot at a shark before the impending front struck the coastline. We deployed baits the next night and began the waiting game again, and before long another rod let out another slow and cocky cry, and this time we were going to get it, or so we thought.... I told Tyler to ready himself with the harness, because I was going to set the hook on the fish and hand him the rod, which he willingly agreed too. I let the fish eat for a few short moments before throwing it into gear and heading towards to the hills for a hook set. The only problem was that when I put the 14/0 into gear, the line had instantly gone slack. In a fit of rage I began to scream and yell at the seemingly vacant ocean and handed the rod to Tyler to tell him to reel it in while I readied a new bait to be deployed in the kayak. While I was in the midst of accomplishing this task, I heard Tyler scream to the side of me, he was strapped into the harness reeling in the line, and apparently the shark pulled a 180 degree maneuver and the line came tight without him paying any attention to it. Tyler was drug right to the ground as line began to strip off the spool quickly for a moments time. I ran over to help him up, but before I reached him the line had gone slack and the fish had slipped away yet again..Though not the target fish, Tyler did catch his first Lemon Shark, we snapped a quick picture before the hook was removed and it was set free.
It was personal now, I had not been this angry or fired up about shark fishing in a couple of years time, and my attitude towards the situation had relayed to Tyler, and we decided it was now more of a vendetta than a fishing trip any more. We went back to shark command central to check the weather, tides and to re-tool our gear, to be certain there would be no other mishaps in our obviously now unlucky streak that had fallen upon us.
Once we did some research, we realized that a "cool" front was going to hit us that night, dropping the barometric pressure and kicking up the seas for a projected 3 days, which in theory left us with one potentially warmer day between the cool front, and the major cold front that was working its way down across America. We decided that instead of returning to the same spot, that we would try to counter-act the fronts affect on the fish, by going to a location that had a perfect outgoing tide that coincided with night fall, in hopes of getting a shot at a large Bull Shark while we waited for our small and uncertain window to appear.
The first night at the new spot went by without a click again, and with the seas building is was going to be treacherous to be able to paddle baits there, or anywhere for that matter in the cover of night. But the next day arrived, and as we geared up again for the 7th consecutive day to head out, the starter to my truck caught on fire in my driveway. Again demoralized, but not to be denied, we headed to the auto parts store to purchase a starter, and within forty-five minutes of "the fire" we had the new starter in and were on our way to the destination of the night.
But to our dismay the surf had raised a great deal from the night before, I deployed two baits before night fall and decided it was to dangerous to head back out with the wave chop heading in all directions, except a constant one. We sat there all night until the crack of dawn, getting drenched in rain and not having any shelter whatsoever. The beach was silent all night and the rain was freezing, yet neither of us spoke a word to one another for what seemed hours. We each knew our window of time was almost up for the year, we each felt that we were at this point just chasing a dream, not a reality, it seemed as if we were out hunting ghosts, but instead of taking a picture of one we just saw shadows out of the corners of our eyes. We were almost at rock bottom, neither of us had been sleeping, and yet still went to work and class all day and afternoon, just to go back and try to catch some naps on the beach. I had nothing to lose at this point, as my mind had already gone, but this was the only thing I could do to wear myself out enough, not to think about the problems I was having in life, And Tyler, just wanted to catch a big shark.
The next day the weather had warmed, and this was now our time to strike as the big front was only a day away. I spent the day mulling around at work and drying out our saltwater and blood ridden towels and clothing on the kayak and bait cooler at work, just waiting to relive what seemed to be our "Groundhog Day" once again.
I met with Tyler shortly after work, and we decided something needed to be changed to change our horrible streak of luck we had run across. So naturally the best thing to do at this time is to shave a mohawk onto my head, something that had been missing for quite some time and
maybe that would give us our metal "edge" back that we hold in high regard around here at Team Rebel headquarters.
With the fresh hairstyle, we hit the beach and began to deploy baits into the eerily still and clear
ocean, which was much different than what we had experienced the previous two nights. We got two baits out into the figurative "zone" and began another waiting game. But shortly after I had returned from dropping the baits, one of the lines had gone slack. Tyler reeled it in to find that this pesky little critter had somehow weaseled its way onto the hook.
Morale was almost totally gone at this point, as usually the appearance of Bluefish means that fishing for the big sharks is basically over, as the water temperature had now fallen perhaps too far. But we were there and the ocean was flat, so we were going to try no matter what the circumstance at this point. I redeploy Tyler’s rod, hoping that the bluefish weren't present in numbers and that they would stay off of our fresh baits. We stood there talking for about ten minutes next to the rod, when I saw the tip start to slowly bend, I grabbed the rod and threw it into gear and headed towards the condos, until I was stopped dead in my tracks. I yelled to Tyler that we were hooked up, and promptly handed the rod over to him and helped him strap in. Line began to fly off the reel at an incredible speed, and we soon realized this was the fish we had been so desperately looking for..
The fight was on, and we had no idea what we were in store for, or what was attached to the other end of the line. I rushed to reel in the remaining line, and drop the rods so the line from Tyler’s rods could clear it, but in the midst of this task, Tyler let out a yell, and when I turned around I saw him lying on the ground and being slowly drug to the surf line! I ran over and helped him back up, and told him to hold on for one more minute while I cleared the line so I could attach the safety rope to the back of his harness, I snapped one more quick shot of the hook-up before the mayhem was in full-swing.
The lines were cleared and we were fifteen minutes into the battle, the spool was looking pretty
empty and the drag as already on lockdown. We had less than one hundred yards left on the reel when Tyler said he couldn't hold up to it anymore, I said I would take over until he got some energy back, this would keep us fresh for the battle we had just signed up for. But soon after I took over the rod and got strapped in, the fish began to take what remaining line we had left on the reel in short and powerful bursts, it was time to man up and try even harder to stop what seemed to be another one of those unstoppable forces we seldom encounter. I put my hands on the insides of the spool and leaned back as hard as I could why Tyler worked the safety rope attached to the back of my harness, only to have reached a stale mate, with about 50yds of line left on the spool of the 14/0. The hub of the spool was now visible through the clear mono filament line, and the situation was starting to become grave, as I couldn't hold onto the rod any longer after about fifteen minutes as well. This shocked me , mostly due to the fact that I fought the estimated 1000lb hammerhead we caught in January unassisted for an hour and a half. I swapped the rod back out to Tyler and got a drink and worked the safety rope as the shark would take another five to ten yards every few minutes. I talked it over with Tyler and said to him " If this shark reaches the knot, we aren't cutting the line, we are going to turn it, and if we don't, at least you got to feel what a monster feels like". Tyler reluctantly agreed and proceeded to hold onto the rod for dear life, while i tried to figure out a game plan in my head.
We were now an hour into this battle, and we have gained NO line whatsoever, the smell of burning hair would sometimes rise from the side plate of the reel as Tyler arm was beginning to get scorched from the heat of the drag, and both of us were tired. The shark would move from right to left in about a 25 degree area, and can only be described as a truck being hooked to a building with a rope, and the truck spinning its tires and flailing about from right to left trying to catch traction but making no lei weigh. I took over the rod from Tyler one last time, and told him that we somehow needed to break this denizen’s will before we ran out of gas ourselves. Tyler spotted me and helped me strap in, while I beat the drag down to the point where the star almost broke and leaned back as hard as I could. This was going to be it, time to turn it or lose it. I leaned back with everything i had, hands dug in the spool, and all the weight from my 225lb frame being solely supported by the rod and reel. I held this position for around fifteen minutes, until I reached the point where my arms and legs were shaking, and I felt blood vessels pumping in my forehead, I was about to collapse, when the line began to slack up slowly. I un strapped and handed the rod to Tyler and shouted "WE TURNED IT! CRANK AND DON'T LET IT GET A SECOND WIND" while I a drenched myself with water from a gallon jug of water that
was perched aside our fighting outpost.
The Aftermath of the drag burning Tyler's arm
Hundreds of yards started to come back onto the reel in a matter of minutes, the fish was confused, and after a stand-off that lasted over an hour, the fish was now in desperation mode, but headed northbound up the coastline. Tyler was running out of gas as I kept screaming " DON'T STOP! DON'T STOP! IF YOU LET OFF THE PRESSURE ITS GOING TO TAKE US!" I began to contemplate our next move, until I realized there was a Canadian man fishing a hundred yards up the beach from us, he had five lines out and they all had braided main lines on them as well, which could act as a razor blade to our mono filament line. I grabbed the line that was attached to the shark in my hand and made a last minute decision to head up the line, and try to pull the opposite direction of where the pressure was coming from Tyler and PRAY that it turns towards us. I told Tyler no matter what don't stop reeling, as I tried a last ditched effort to try to save this miracle fish from getting cut off. I finally got parallel with the fish,and when I did, I wrapped the line around my hand once or twice and sprinted ahead of it about thirty feet until I was stopped dead in my tracks, the shark had turned south and was taking me with it! I ran South and yelled for Tyler to reel because the mystery monster was heading right towards him.
I thought in my head during the jog back "Why haven't we seen this fish yet? The ocean is flat and we almost have all the line back, what the hell is this thing?" No sooner than I got back to the camp, the beast made its first showing to the public, no more than 30yards from the beach, a fin began to slowly rise out of the clear illuminated ocean in motion. As the sickle rose, it cut the water in the light of the full moon in a way that will haunt me till the day I die. Its fin sliced the water, making it look like molten glass cast up over the still submerged sharks body. I screamed to Tyler, who was a good distance behind me, "HAMMER!, AND ITS BIGGER THAN THE LAST ONE!!". The fish was moving slowly down the trough, but we were out of gas at this point, and didn't want to risk this one getting away, so I took an extreme measure, by taking the tail-rope (unassisted) and wading out into about six feet of water, following the leader to try to get a rope on this monsters tail. I went out into the night like it was a stroll in the park, until I began to tip-toe on the bottom just to try to keep my head above water, when I realized that this was a horrible idea. But, it was too late to turn around now, the monstrous sickle fin was only about eight feet in front of me now, and it was time to do this or miss out of a catch of a lifetime. That's when I got hit by something that knocked me down underneath the waters surface. I grabbed onto what the mystery object was, just a quick reaction to whatever had happened, and when I resurface I found myself being propelled out to sea for a brief moment, before I finally realized I had been crushed by the sharks massive tail. I dove under water and used the D-clip to secure the sharks tail to the end of the rope, and began to try to make it to shore with this monster in tow by myself.
The shoreline was only about twenty feet away from me now, and I could feel the rope starting to burn a hole in my shoulder, but my mind was elsewhere, just trying to get this shark to the beach for a couple of quick pictures. By now, there was a couple of bystanders who's help had been enlisted by Tyler, we only had one camera, two men and a shark that size we couldn't comprehend. I began to scream for help as I reached two feet of water, my cries of desperation were met by silence, the people who were witnessing this were so shocked that they didn't respond, they usually come running up asking to touch it in a panicked frenzy, not this time. The only two people who were in a panicked frenzy were myself and Tyler, the two man wrecking crew, whose task was still far from over. We went to beach the monster, while the random lady snapped away with our camera, catching the first glimpse of the now exposed giant.
I have never in my life had adrenaline pumping so hard in my body, and Tyler had a look of terror on his face I will not soon forget, but the fish was sideways and we had to roll it over to help support its weight for its safety.
As I began to remove the hook, I yelled for Tyler to jump behind it and for the nice lady to begin
snapping as many pictures as she could, as the countdown to the survival of the fish had formally
Note: The eye of the shark is located under water
The flash of the Camera was raging in the night sky for what seemed like an eternity, as I readied the fish for a quick release, but now it was only me and Tyler in charge of the task of somehow un-beaching this behemoth by ourselves.
We pulled, and we pulled, but the giant was not budging, and now I was beginning to panic, as time was running out. So I told Tyler "One running start, and once the weight of the fish stops our momentum, just keep falling forward with all of yours until you feel it give!".And with one more running start, we hit what felt like a wall when the rope came taught with the
sharks incredible tail, and felt it begin to move just slightly. I yelled "Don't stop! its coming!" to
Tyler, and a short moment after that all its weight that had sunk into the sand had been released and we were headed out to sea with the shark.
We turned the shark around and walked it out into about five feet of water before it kicked its tail, which knocked Tyler right onto his ass. I relinquished my grip from her dorsal and began to bolt back to shore before she decided it was time to repay the favor to us for the experience. Just as we got the edge of the surf, I turned around and was able to witness the massive dorsal fin sink back into the abyss with the light of the moon casting down above us and the shark, and I will tell you right now, one of the most haunting sights you may ever see in your life is a sickle in the dark.
We thanked the bystanders and quickly packed up our gear and headed home, with the windows down and the metal cranking down the beach road, for we knew what we had just done. This shark may have very well beaten the All-Tackle World Record Hammerhead Shark which was caught by Bucky Dennis a few years back. And to put this into perspective, Bucky Dennis' shark drug him and his boat over 12 miles offshore before they landed that fish, we stopped this fish from a shoreline with around 700yds of line. Thought it would not have qualified for an IGFA record, we do not need that gratification, our gratification is that the shark swam away to live another day. Before anybody asks, no, we didn't take measurements, and no, we don't really care whoever wants to write this fish off as a faux because we didn't take them, the fish lived, that is the ONLY thing that matters to us. However, I did take a moment to wrap my arms around its girth and see how good of an estimate we could get, my wingspan measure out at 6ft 2in, and I was between 3-4ft away, if not more, from being able to touch. If this happened again tomorrow to us, I would make the same decision, killing it was never in our minds, nor in our minds ever since I have began shark fishing the beaches. This catch will forever hold a special place in my heart, and who knows if we can top this one, but then again, we didn't think we would top the last hammer-head either. But in the end, I could not be any prouder of what two men had accomplished from a shore-line, fighting and braving the elements and adversity to be able to come out on top of this like true champions. This year has been unforgettable for us, and we may never top this
again in our lifetimes, we began with a bang, and ended with a bigger one, as for next shark season, who knows what we have in store....
Tyler had proven himself in battle, and sticking it out even through some tough times, and we got the fish he so desperately sought. And I have memory that will live on even way after I have passed on from this world, I feel like we truly have conquered the sea.
Until next time........Team Rebel out!!!