Thanks to the fertile, fish-filled waters around Ireland, a 70-year-old sea salt has one of the best fish stories to tell one and all: He bagged a half-ton shark this morning off the coast of County Clare.
Joe Waldis broke a number of records when he caught the 12’ 9’’ bluntnose six-gill shark, which weighed in at 1,056 pounds. Waldis used mackerel as bait, and caught the shark using an 80-pound line. The beast took 35 minutes to reel in.
“Every time I gained a meter of line, the fish took it straight back again,” said Waldis. “I didn’t know what I was dealing with until the shark came to the surface. It is like getting all your numbers in the Lotto to get a fish like this.”
It sets a new record for the heaviest fishing rod-caught fish in British or Irish waters, surpassing a 968-pound blue-fin tuna caught in 2001, and it is almost three times the weight of the heaviest fish caught in fresh water in Britain, a sturgeon weighing 388 pounds, which was snared in River Towy in South Wales in 1933.
After seeing the shark, Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group said, “To be able to land a shark that size with a rod and line is amazing. It goes to show how little we know of what is out there.”
Six-gill sharks are a deep-water species and are found all over the world, from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean to Australia and Alaska. They are rarely caught, partly due to the fact that they usually only come to the surface at night.
The biggest fish caught on a rod and line anywhere in the world is believed to have been a 3,427-pound Great White shark, caught in 1986 off Montauk, N.Y..
“I still can’t believe it," Waldis said. "When I go to sleep at night, I still can’t believe it. It was the fight of my life.”
Richard Peirce, chairman of the Shark Trust, told the Angling Times: "It is regrettable that such a magnificent fish had to be taken to shore to be weighed to verify a record, but in these situations it is the angler's decision. “
"This shark was a mature specimen and likely to have been a female. It’s wonderful news to hear of the existence of large breeding animals, but from a conservation point of view, it was a shame the shark was not released alive.”