SANIBEL, Fla. (FOX 13) - A man who catches and releases sharks from the Florida coast tagged a massive tiger shark off the coast of Sanibel.
Elliot Sudal, an angler and licensed captain who researches sharks as a marine conservationist, was fishing off the coast of Boca Grande Sunday.
For 25 hours, he and his fishing buddy hadn't had a single bite in a spot he says is notorious for giant sharks, so they packed up and headed to Sanibel.
Sudal said in his post on Instagram that he was cleaning off on a sandbar when he decided to use his last bonita and within five minutes, he had a bite. "It was the heaviest, most consistently unstoppable run of my life, not even slowing down at full drag," Sudal said.
It took more than five hours to reel it in and finally he was able to tag it in the water near the sandbar and release it safely.
Sudal said it was a male tiger shark, 13 feet long and weighing about 1,100 pounds. "I tagged it, got a blood and fin sample, and swam it off into the pass where it took off like a champ," Sudal said. "Unreal experience, largest shark I’ve ever caught, or even heard of being landed here."
Sudal participates in the National Marine Fisheries Service Apex Predator Tagging Program with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which aims to learn more about sharks so their habitats can be protected.
He also blogs about fishing, and says, "Most people don't realize the abundance of large sharks that can be found within casting distance of the beach."
Here’s the story on the Tiger: I set out with my buddy @claytonjennings1 Sunday morning on the boat to Boca Grande pass, a spot notorious for giant sharks. This time of year it’s loaded with tarpon, which they feed on. I had a cooler full of fresh Bonita and we got up there and set some baits. 25 hours go by... not one bite. We’re incredibly exhausted and frustrated, my thoughts were I had somehow left some soap in my cooler and it ruined my baits. We leave and head back to Sanibel, but pull up by a sandbar to jump in and wash off, get on solid ground for a second. I had one Bonita left that had already been soaking for 12 hours, figured what the heck why not and floated it off by the pass. Five minutes later, it gets smoked. It was the heaviest, most consistently unstoppable run of my life, not even slowing down at full drag. This wasn’t my heaviest setup either, it was an 80 rigged more for boat stuff. Getting down to the last 100 feet of line, it became apparent this wasn’t happening from the beach, and we jump in the boat and slam it in reverse, backing down on it marlin style. After about 5 hours and being dragged around many miles, attempting to slow it down, and realizing what it was, we return to the sandbar. I’ve never dealt with a shark this size, and in my experience they are much easier to tag, blood sample and remove the hook when in shallow water. Plus the shark was almost as big as the boat. I finished the battle on the sand, keeping the shark in 2’ of water on a sandbar at the edge of the pass, so the flowing current would keep water moving over his gills. It was a male tiger shark, 13 feet 2 inches in length with a girth measurement of 81”. The weight calculations put that at around 1100 pounds! I tagged it, got a blood and fin sample, and swam it off into the pass where it took off like a champ. Unreal experience, largest shark I’ve ever caught, or even heard of being landed here. Tiger sharks are a rare species to see here, and it’s a great sign at how strong the shark populations are returning after the red tide this summer. And a huge shoutout to captain @claytonjennings1, couldn’t have done it without you man, what a day 💥 #sharkresearch