We all sit back from time to time, and reminisce of what it was like to be "young" again, what more you would have done, and many ponder what they wouldn't have done. But on the other hand, there's the type of person who sits back and wonders "I wish I knew as much about fishing when I was 18 when there was actually fish around as I do now." And rest easy knowing that there is a few young men out there that are living that dream, to be able to capitalize on incredible catches at a younger age , and in much tougher fishing conditions than most others ever experienced in their life-times. One thing is certain, the life of the land-based angler has become increasingly difficult over the years, with the population boom, the prices of gas going up which give more anglers the incentive to try to fish from land-based structures, all mixed with the biggest factor which is that there is just too much pressure on fish from anglers, and not as many fish as there was even a mere ten years ago. So captures of large specimens, especially, from land, and becoming rarer and increasingly difficult in this day and age. That is where the story begins of Team Rebel's phenom Viktor, and where his most recent adventure began and the feat he accomplished, which when I was his age I would have died to duplicate along with many others that actively participate in the sport we have been bringing back from the brink of extinction in the last ten years, with a new vision and goal than the grandfathers of the sport ever had.
The event began last night, when I recieved a phone call from Viktor , telling us at Shark Command Central that he was going to embark on a shark fishing trip into new territory that had been scouted but never tested. I reluctantly declined due to the fact that I had family in from out of town I was visiting with, but I expressed my enthusiasm toward his game plan for the night and wished him and his small undersized crew the best of luck on their endeavor.
Viktor and Mike rounding up some bait to freeze for the month
Around 9:15 p.m. I was jolted out of a daze in the middle of a four hour family bore-fest with the whaling guitar ring tone of Zakk Wylde signifying Viktor was on the other end. When I answered I was surprised to hear one of his crew-mates on the other side of the line. He franticly told me that Viktor was "Hooked up big" with a fish they had been battling for a mere five minutes. This is usually not a big deal when the "Shark Hotline" rings, but I was then informed that the fish had not stopped taking line from the hook set and the situation was looking grave for them and what little line was left on the spool of his trusty 12/0. So naturally I gave them a couple of quick tips to try to hold-off on what seemed to be an inevitable spooling for the little guys and told them to keep me posted. I hung up the phone and my cousin Anthony who is an avid fisherman was in-town from New Jersey asked me what was going on, after a short explanation we both came to the corporate command decision we were heading to the location to intercept the battle ensuing 45minutes north of us. We bid farewell to the family and hit the highway while on the phone with one of Viktors henchman giving us live updates as we headed down the highway to try to make the best time possible to help in any way we could with the safe capture and release of this alleged beast.
After a dangerous ride that took 25minutes off the usual trip, we arrived at location-x with some water an ARC de-hooker, and an extra fighting harness, only to find Viktor still on the brink of defeat with only a couple hundred yards remaining on the reel and two people holding the rod up with their shoulders so Viktor wouldn't be pulled to an almost certain watery Grave.
I asses the situation and quickly recognized two problems that had unfolded during the battle, number one being that Viktors 130lb frame could not fit into the harness, and number two the rod tip could not be raised high enough due to the size and the strength of the kids holding it up on their shoulder. This was all on-top of the fact that 600 of the 800yards of 130lb on the reel were still out in the black abyss of the surf somewhere.....
After a short dialogue, we decided the best thing to do to help right the situation was for Viktor to unclip from his harness and transfer the rod to me in my harness while everybody tried to tighten and knot the harness so it would stop slipping off Viktor in the fight. The rod transfer went off without a hitch , while I made a valiant attempt to turn the fish and begin winching down and gaining line on the monster for a few minutes before we hooked Viktor back up and the battle was back on.
Viktor leaned back as my cousin and I took turns holding the rod up under the heavy pressure of a drag that was set to terminate for the next 45 minutes while the fish's will was gradually broken and began to inch its way closer towards the coastline. From North to South the beast kept cutting the coast without much change in action, that was until it headed straight down the beach to a degree I had never seen before. Viktor pivoted his body to match the actions of the fish until he was at a point that both his shoulders were directly parallel with the water and the condos, all this while the fish still had over 300yards of line to its advantage, but the angle of this run was so severe that over 100yards of that was residing over dry land.
The fish's will had finally broken and began to do exactly what we wanted it to do, run right at us up the trough while Viktor put his cranking power into over-drive, pushing himself physically in a place he had never been before. The moon had still not risen and the fishes dorsal had finally surfaced in stride right infront of us against the blackened horizon in the calm, humid summer night air. The sight of the large black dorsal fin was a quick, and un-mistakable I.D. for the denizen at the end of the line, but I still shouted "HAMMER!" anyways to echo my excitement to the skeleton crew with us.
I quickly stripped off my boots and shirt and made a dash for the shark with a tailrope in hand to subdue its tail and drag her into the shallows with the assitance of my cousin and brother who decided to make the trip to our location after our arrival.
Viktor quickly un-strapped from the harness to take finally gaze upon the fish that had pushed him to every limit possible over the course of the last two hours, a beautiful and very healthy female hammerhead around 12-12 1/2ft in length.
We worked quick as usual to remove the hook and a few short photo-ops before it was time to let her go back to her dark and watery home to begin her normal life, and normal routine once again, and to perhaps start another little hammerhead family next season.
From the landing to the release the estimated time that this big girl was under our control was maybe a minute and a half, we are very cautious for the fish's well being all the time but especially when dealing with Hammer heads, as time is a crucial part for the safe release of this species. But just as we have many time before, we watched the 3ft tall sickle fin slowly head offshore and eerily dissipate into the mysterious and silent ocean water never to be seen again.
Make no mistake about it, this was Viktors night and nobody else's, I am just here to tell the story. He really showed his true colors and stayed very cool in a very intense situation where most people would have cracked and lost the fish. Believe it or not, these fish don't come around that often, especially of this size and magnitude. Many land-based sharkers wait their whole life to be able to land on of these un-stoppable fish from shore, and many never get the chance to do so. Viktor is very lucky to be able to accomplish these angling feats at-all, never mind his age, this is an incredible catch for anybody at any time and I salute him for that. I wish when I was his age I knew as much about fishing as I do now, and I wish I listened to certain people about ways to catch this monsters instead of being a hard-headed teenager, but that's where Viktor is different, he has listened to what we have had to say and instead of trying to take the hard path like I did he made the right decision, and that's why he is not only the best sharker to my knowledge at his age, but a world-class angler all around, and thats why he is part of Team Rebel. This year has been like no other for us, as I get older, life gets in the way and I can't fish as much as I use to, but cherish the time I can get out more than taking it for granted like I use too, and I cherish monumental catches like this much more than I use to as well. These giants don't come around in peoples lifetimes, and we have been fortunate enough to catch two of these monsters this year which is unprecedented within the land-based community. I wish I knew then what I know now, and I know for Viktor this is a beginning of a legacy, influence, and a savior of a dying sport here in Florida which once flourished across our coast-line.
Until next time......
Team Rebel Out!