SANTA ROSA COUNTY — A Panhandle fisherman recently reeled in quite a catch: An 11-foot, 805-pound mako shark.
But Joey Polk and the two cousins who helped him reel in the huge catch last week off a Gulf Coast beach would rather keep the feat quiet. The Santa Rosa County fisherman is concerned with land-based shark fishing being banned.
Also, Polk said he didn't want to scare off beachgoing tourists — the trio has not released the exact location of the catch.
"It's unbelievable, there are people in their lifetime that will never know that type of excitement," Polk said of the catch. "We just want to save our sport. The more people that know about it, the more people that crowd our beach, with hundreds of people swimming and that's not what we want."
Normally, one of his shark catches would be released back into the water. This time, Polk and his cousins Earnie Polk and Kenny Peterson decided to keep the shark.
Polk said the International Land-Based Shark Fishing Association has recognized it as the largest mako catch ever. The shark was hooked several hundred yards off shore, he told the Pensacola News Journal.
They somehow managed to get the shark into the back of a pickup and haul it away. According to Polk, they celebrated the catch with a barbecued mako shark meat feast for 200 people.
"(We're) probably 95 percent catch and release," Joey Polk said. "We do keep a lot of what won't swim off sometimes."