One day in June, Jonathan (my nephew) and I decided to go fishing for some sharks. We left Caxambas Pass ramp on Marco Island at about 2 o’clock, hoping to be back at the dock by 6 before the ramp closed and locked us in for the night. First, we went around the island jigging for anything for bait, since I always like to use fresh bait. We caught a few jacks and time was kinda running out, since by that time it was about 5 p.m. I had not fished right out of the pass in a while so, what the heck, I thought, let’s try it.
We went about a mile out of Caxambas Pass. The seas were nice and we anchored up on the tide line. The tide was going out and the current was not too bad. I put a live jack out behind the boat and free-lined with the current. I put out another half a jack on a different line on the bottom. Sure enough, about 15 minutes later the half jack starts going out really slowly. I tell Jonathan to grab the rod and jerk as hard as he can. The 50-pound line starts going out like it was nothing but dental floss, and the battle began. My Shimano Triton 15 TLD reel had plenty of line and, in thinking that, I noticed the fish was not slowing down. The reel had about a quarter spool left when I thought, “Time to pull up anchor and go after him.” Good thing we did, because that fish, whatever it was, didn’t slow down or speed up for a long time.
About 15 minutes into the fight, my nephew decided his back couldn’t take anymore and handed the pole to me. The fish was going straight out from the pass. We were about 11/2 miles out by then. “Did we hook a submarine?”
We had to start the engine to follow and catch up to the fish every few minutes to gain a bit of line on it. By this time, we were about 45 minutes into this fight and hadn’t seen the fish yet. I figured out we were about 21/2 miles out, the ramp was going to close soon, it was getting dark, and this was the biggest fish I had ever hooked.
“Please God, let me see this thing and I promise I will release it.”
About this time we were gaining on it by chasing it with the motor. Jonathan was at the wheel and suddenly I noticed I only had about 20 yards of line left. I went out on the front deck of my Hewes and fought as hard as I could. I looked down just under the boat and could barely see a huge shadow on the other end of my line. I estimated it to be about 10 to 12 feet long. All I could make out was a huge shadow. And once again, it dove back down to the depths of the bottom.
Now we were 50 minutes into the fight. Both of us had fought this fish for about 25 minutes each and all we saw was a shadow bigger than any other fish I ever caught.
I had this fish on the biggest rig on my boat, which usually brings in 7- to 8-foot lemon sharks in about 10 to 15 minutes, even when I’m playing with them. Both of us tired of fighting this fish, our backs killing us, I decided to horse him a little more. SNAP goes the line. Fifty-eight minutes into the fight. We never really saw what it was. The fight was over.
We were somewhat relieved, but mad we were never able to identify the giant fish. It was all over. After talking to a few guides from around the area and knowing what I know of the area, I believe it was a huge sawfish, bull shark or hammerhead of about 11 or 12 feet. At the ramp, we found it had closed for the night. We had to call the police. We told the police we had had engine trouble and couldn’t get back before the gate was locked. Of course, I could not tell him exactly why we didn’t get back on time, thinking that the police officer would not consider a great fight a very good excuse to get locked out of the boat ramp. If only the officer knew that was the biggest fish I had ever fought and
This is an event I will never forget, and I will be sure to go back again, after that monster from the deep. Always be prepared for the big one when you go out. You never know when a monster will get on your line. I have pictures of us fighting this monster. Now that I think of it, I’ll just go fishing tonight in the same place. I hope I don’t get locked out of the boat ramp again—or do I?