A COOMERA fisherman thought he had bit off more than he could chew when he hooked a mammoth tiger shark while beach fishing off Pottsville at the weekend.
But it was the four-metre fish that was in for a challenge, when 19-year-old Max Muggeridge refused to give up the fight, reeling it in after more than three hours.
Max told the Gold Coast Bulletin the surprise catch happened early Saturday morning when he decided to try his luck fishing while camping on the Tweed coast with his girlfriend Alexia Rivera — and could well have been a world record.
The avid fisherman said he was about to reel in his line when he felt something latch on and it was not long before he realised he was in for a battle.
“About 20 seconds into the fight I realised I had maybe bit off a little bit more than I could chew,” he said.
“I first hooked it at 7.15am and I got it on to the land at 10.30am, so it was just over three hours.
“My hands are covered in blood blisters and it mentally broke me because there were a few times when I had it so close to shore and then it would just take out another 600-metre run.”
Max said the shark became hooked about 50 metres offshore but it was not until two hours into the fight that he finally caught a glimpse of the huge fish.
“About two hours in I actually saw it for the first time because it made a spectacular leap out of the water about 150 metres out and then I knew it was really big,” he said.
“I have blood blisters all over my hands, the metal frame of my rod is warped out of shape and there is a massive crack through my rod which is a Penn Senator antique, about 40 years old.”
But the hard work was well worth it when Max finally reeled in the tiger shark and measured it at around four metres in length.
“I got a four-point measurement of 3.8 metres to the fork and there would have been an extra 30cm or so for the tail,” he said.
“The current catch and release world record tiger shark held by Joey Polk is 10 foot eight inches (3.25m) in fork length and 12 foot 9 inches (3.88m) overall length.”
Max said he believed his catch would have broken the world record if he had been able to get all the required measurements.
“I think it definitely would have broken the current world record for land-based shark fishing but being on my own I couldn’t get all of the required measurements,” he said.
“To qualify for the record you need to get the fork length, the overall length and the girth length and there are other protocols as well, like sending your line off to make sure it fits requirements.
“Considering I was on my own and the shark had been under stress for a while, I let it go because it was more important to see it swim away.”
Owner of Pottsville Bait and Tackle, Bruce Clarke, said it was not unheard of to catch a shark while fishing off the beach but it was rare to hook a tiger.
“They are mainly shovelnose and blacktip but you get the odd tiger shark,” he said.
“They are a fish that will readily take a large cut bait off the beach because they are foraging for food, so it is quite common to have them around this time of year when the water temperature is up.
“The past few weeks the water temperature has been about 26.5C which is about three degrees warmer than what it normally is, so that is bringing all of the bait fish in and the sharks as well.”
Bond University associate professor of environmental management Daryl McPhee agreed, saying recent rain could also bring sharks closer to shore.
“Particularly after rain you expect to see tiger sharks a bit closer to shore and it certainly is not unusual to find them around this time of year,” he said.
“They are one of the three species of shark, including the great white and bull sharks, that are responsible for the vast majority of fatal, unprovoked shark bites.
“It is a near-threatened species due to fishing and finning.”
Max said the catch was his biggest to date and certainly not one he expected while fishing alone.
“Normally when we go fishing for big sharks there are five of us that go out and we all know what our role is and help each other out,” he said.
“This time I was just with my girlfriend and apart from giving me a bit of encouragement, handing me water and taking photos, she wasn’t able to help too much.
“I have been fishing for sharks the past eight years now, all catch and released, and this blew everything else I have caught out of the water.
“My mates were upset they weren’t there and a few of them thought it was a late April fool’s joke.”
Max said as soon as the shark had been reeled in he carefully removed the hook from its mouth, took a few photos and watched it swim away.
“Growing up it was always about the thrill of hooking the big one and I just became fascinated with sharks, so ever since then I have poured every spare dollar into shark fishing, conservation and research.”
“Catching something like this has certainly been a lifelong goal.”
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