A massive 13-foot hammerhead shark was landed in northwest Florida on Saturday. Though Roy Scheider’s character in Jaws asked for a bigger boat to catch the film’s famous great white, the two guides and two anglers that landed this monster hammerhead did so with no boat at all; they hooked, fought, and released the beast all from the beach. It was the biggest hammerhead ever caught by a client of the Navarre Beach Shark Fishing (NBSF) guide service, which specializes in land-based shark expeditions.
“This one takes the cake so far,” NBSF co-owner Jack Moran told Fox News.
Fishing just east of Pensacola on July 31, guides Kerry Guliksen and Tanner Piehl rigged up two whole dead baitfish. The guides then kayaked the bait 400 yards off the beach—way further than it could be cast—and dropped it. That evening, when the shark was initially hooked and began to run, the guides knew it would be no ordinary catch.
“That’s not a little fish!” Guliksen exclaims in a Youtube video of the catch. Anglers Corey Roper and Brittany Heath, as well as the guides, took turns cranking until the hammer was in the wash. They used a bolt cutter to snip the bite leader and wrestled the fish back into position to swim away.
The shark was caught on a rod built on a Steadfast 80-150-pound blank, with an Okuma Makaria baitcaster spooled with 1,000 yards of 200-pound hollow-core braid, a 200-pound mono top shot, a 1,200-pound leader, and a 900-pound test cable crimped to a size 24/0 hook.
Hammerheads cannot be harvested under Florida law and must be released “without delay” when fishing from the shore. Navarre Beach Shark Fishing takes the regs seriously. “We had her in and out in under 15 minutes tops,” Moran told Fox News. “We kept her in the water the whole time to ensure a proper release.”
Florida’s beach shark fishery allows for the harvest of 16 species, from Atlantic sharpnose to shortfin mako. Prohibited species—meaning sharks that must be released—include spiny dogfish, tigers, great whites, bigeye thresher, and 24 other species. Non-stainless steel circle hooks are required tackle for shark anglers, who must also carry bolt cutters needed for quick releases. NBSF guides often put their clients onto hammerheads around 8 feet long.
“This one was particularly massive for the area,” Guliksen tells F&S. “For it to have been about 13 feet is absolutely ridiculous.”
Wrangling a huge shark barefoot in knee-deep water isn’t for the faint of heart, but Guliksen says it’s not as dangerous as you might think: “The bigger ones are not as big of a concern. They’re tired and only really care about going back. The little ones are the ones you have to watch out for. They can get whippy.”