The largest mako shark ever caught off the shores of New Jersey won't be recognized as a record because of a technicality, but it's still a fish of a lifetime.
On Saturday the Jenny Lee charter boat hooked the biggest shark they had ever seen. The massive mako shark would have surely been the new New Jersey state record, were it not for a technicality in the rule book.
Capt. Dave Bender recalled, "When I first saw the shark, I thought, 'We hooked a great white shark.' It didn't look real. It was the biggest fish I'd ever seen. Its head was the size of a garbage can."
The 44-foot Jenny Lee was captained by Bender and Kevin Gerrity, and held six fishermen in their charter. They were night fishing around 100 miles from the Manasquan Inlet in the Hudson Canyon area.
Fishing had been slow with only one keeper yellowfin and three smaller tuna boarded. The boat was in 1,500 feet of water when the big shark hit.
"The fishing was slow. We were hoping for a little 200-pound mako or swordfish during the night," Gerrity said. "Little did I know, we'd hook Jaws."
The mako hit the bait and when they men saw the size of the fish they were astounded. The shark was so big and powerful that it broke the tip of the fishing rod. The massive fish only jumped once and plowed through the water like a locomotive.
The men fought the beast for 90 minutes, handing the rod to one another over the hour-and-a-half. Gerrity said that it took another two hours to get the massive fish into the boat.
"It's a pretty awesome feeling,"said Gerrity. "We saw him swimming up to the boat. We didn't think we were going to get him, but we got him."
When they got to shore in Brielle and weighed the fish in Hoffman's Marina, it tipped the scales at 926 pounds, crushing the current 1994 New Jersey mako shark record of 856 pounds.
But unfortunately that record still stands because the rules state that only one person may handle the fishing rod and catch the fish.
"We passed the fishing rod off. To be a record, only one fisherman can handle the rod," Bender said. "Still a great catch, though. You can't lose sight of that."
The all time mako shark rod and reel record is 1,300 pounds, caught in 2013 off the coast of North Carolina.
After cleaning the shark, Gerrity said that the charter anglers took "whole fish, the jaws, the tail, everything home."
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