photo of mourning doves

For Capt. Bucky Dennis, the action at Boca Grande Pass started just before high noon on May 23, when he tossed in a live stingray on a 12/0 hook. He was using stand-up tackle spooled with 100-pound PowerPro and a 600-pound cable leader. The ride that ensued, courtesy of a 14½-foot, 1,280-pound great hammerhead shark, lasted more than five hours and took him and his crew about 12 miles offshore.

“Those sharks are just so fast and strong, and their endurance is unreal,” Dennis says. “We had the leader in hand about 10 times before we finally got a gaff in it, and it still towed us another 30 minutes. Three of us tried to pull it aboard my 23-foot boat, but we couldn’t. We had to tow it in.”

Dennis, who’s been record-chasing in the area for 10 years, keeps close tabs on the local monsters–and they’re not off the hook just because of his recent catch. “I had a bigger, dark one on two weeks earlier. It dragged us eight hours, then another half hour with a gaff in it, then it tore free. The next day, we saw it back at the pass. There’s a big gray one around, too. And a week ago, a new one showed up, and the guys who saw it say it’s bigger than any of them–18 or 20 feet. You want your life insurance paid up when you go after that fish.”

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