Every once in a while we are faced with great opportunities and chances to make our fantasies a reality. Well this past week I was able to do just this….
This year has been a hectic one for me between work and upper division college courses the time to fish or even think about those grizzly teeth has been slowly fading as I get older. However that shark fever I was infected with years ago is ever present and has established a permanent residence within me.
Slowly i’ve been gathering bait over the past winter, by hitting up the local marinas and diving for rays off the beach in hopes of having a buffet to offer this spring. Well the bait came pretty easily, but the bites we had fishing were far and few in-between with many nights silent as the clickers on our reels that never made a squeak. This was not looking good for us, but everything changed last week when one more attempt yielded a prize to treasure for years.
The night started out as usual unloading bricks and kayaks leaving the tourists and snowbirds in a state of dismay. We had paddled baits out one on garrets Avet and the other on my brand new 14/0, keep in mind this is the first time this reel had ever been fished and boy was it blessed. We had a hit on garrets rod and after a couple of drops and pickups he got tight with a nice fat sandbar at the other end. While he was fighting his fish My rod doubles over and then goes slack and after waiting a couple of minutes I leave the rod in the spike, to assist garrett in landing his fish. We land the sandbar, get a couple pics and send her on her way. As I’m looking back at my rod I notice its still slack and so I quickly run over to reel it in and prepare to paddle it out again. As I’m reeling in I notice something didn’t feel right as the line got tight in a matter of seconds and line started pouring off the spool. I yell over to Brook and Garrett and tell them that we are hooked up. At this point I’m thinking its not going to be very big and so I lock up the drag and to my surprise line keeps disappearing. I yell “I hope you guys know what this is” and in a frantic state the thoughts of that sickle fin protruding from the water have been embedded in my mind. Garrett swiftly straps me into my harness and it’s game on! This is two Alpha predators duking it out in a battle of tug and war. Once we realized it was just the three of us we wanted to make sure everything went flawless when the fish hit the sand and so we called in for reinforcements to ensure a safe and quick revival. Brook called up our buddies Chad, Joey and Ben and they all arrived shortly after. Only 30 minutes had gone by and I was able to recover the 300yds of mono the shark had swept back into his domain and we were finally getting close or so we thought…
The shark made another 350 yard run this time with such an aggressive nature I began to worry this fish had just awoken and was hellbound. After about an hour of being in positions only seen in the matrix my strength was wearing thin as every muscle in my body began to convulse. I knew that I had to continue on, because this is what we wait for all year and I had to make sure I fought it till the end. Slowly, inches began to turn into feet and progress was being made as the beast made the notorious side to side runs allowing the angler to retrieve line. I had signaled everyone to get into their positions and for everyone to be on their A game as I wanted this fish to swim away fast and strong. As garret walked towards the black abyss known as the Atlantic his headlamp started reflecting light that made out an image of a very large dorsal fin. We were all very anxious at this point knowing for sure we had a hammer on and of justifiable size. Shortly after we see a massive tail 8 ft behind its tail and start looking at each other placing our dropped jaws back into each others mouthes. The giant did not want to give in and was stubbronly mocking us as it rode the swells just past the sandbar. I knew i had to turn this fish now before it made another run for its money and so I gave it everything I got leaning back, ASS to the mother ******* grass in that harness and winching the fish in. Garrett and Chad made there way into the waist deep trough and secured the dream that I had been waiting for.
I ran throwing my 14/0 to the side , walking into a situation I had been envisioning in my head for years and was stunned at the size of this fish. We all grabbed onto the rope and started heaving the fish back into our turf. Amongst the chaos we snapped as many pics as we could while My girlfriend Brook was diligently recording the giant hammer with the go pro. She quickly hoped in a few pics and I began to scream “we need to get the fish back in”. After a quick snip of the wire and a glance at the perfectly positioned and yet terrifyingly loose hook, we turned the fish and began dragging it back in. We got to about waist deep water and Ben screams to us “watch out guys” as he sees the fish about to make a move in this two winner game. With one massive kick the fish was on its way and had shown no signs of weakness or exhaustion. Me and Ben followed the fish out till our necks were submerged and to this day we have never seen a more terrifying and yet rewarding site than that massive dorsal swim right back to where it belongs.
We had no measuring tape with us that night and honestly I did not care to get a measurement as I did not want to waste anytime in getting that fish back in the water. I have caught about a dozen hammers in my day now and have put a 12 footer on the beach and can assure anyone this fish was mid 13’6-14ft in length. It appeared to be a stout pissed off male and was definitely the heaviest fish I have dragged or helped dragged onto the beach. Judgements are up to you if you want to say it was 9ft be my guest, but at the end of the day this was a remarkable experience for not only me but a great group of friends and girlfriend I would not trade for the world. This was truly a “dream of a nightmare”
To see the whole thing on video click on the link below