Landing 10-foot hammerhead – Texas
Shark angler: Landing 10-foot hammerhead ‘a magical moment’
May 22, 2012
Steven Edwards knew he had hooked into The Big One.
“It was really a magical moment,” Edwards said. “I saw when it came up on the wave. … You know you have something big on there, but you never know what it is until you see it. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. It was amazing.”
What Edwards, 26, saw on the other side of the line was a 10-plus-foot hammerhead shark, and it definitely drew the attention of a group of about 150 onlookers who had gathered around Edwards on Saturday afternoon about one mile north of Beach Access No. 6 at South Padre Island.
“It was like half the crowd burst into cheers of excitement,” Edwards said. “When the other half saw it was a 10-foot hammerhead, they were screaming in fear.”
Edwards, who lives in Beaumont, arrived at South Padre Island for a weekend fishing trip Thursday. Joining Edwards on the trip were his father, Steve, of McAllen and Luke Woodward, his buddy from Beaumont.
They began fishing at 7 a.m. Saturday. They set up camp onshore and kayaked out about 200 yards and dropped their lines. It was a relatively fruitless mission until Woodward reeled in a 5-foot black tip shark. It was Woodward’s first shark-fishing excursion, so everyone was fairly excited about that catch. They thought about packing everything up and heading back to the hotel.
Then, at 4 p.m., Edwards heard a clicking sound on reel, indicating that he had hooked into something. But the constant clicking noise didn’t stop when it usually does. The fishing line was hot to the touch. Edwards knew he had hooked into something big.
“The difference between the smaller sharks and this one is smaller sharks stop at some point,” Edwards said. “This didn’t. It was crazy. That had never happened before. … You are just hoping it comes back.”
Edwards estimates the shark took between 250 and 300 feet of line. From the shore, Edwards followed the shark’s direction. As the shark made its way toward the shore, Edwards reeled in the slack line. Edwards fought the shark for about 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Word of Edwards’ battle spread quickly. What started as a modest crowd had swollen to 150 by the time Edwards brought the shark to shore. As the excitement grew, Edwards did his best to stay focused.
“You have people looking about you, and the pressure is on,” Edwards said. “If you lose that fish, then you look like the big dummy.”
The shark weighed between 450 and 500 pounds. Edwards estimates he had caught between two and three dozen sharks before Saturday. The biggest one was a bull shark that was 6 feet, 4 inches and weighed 150 pounds.
“We’ve been doing this for 10 years and ain’t ever caught one like that,” said Steve, Edwards’ father. “A 5- or 6-foot shark is typical, but a 10-foot hammerhead is unheard of.”
According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife website, the largest hammerhead caught in Texas waters is 13 feet, and that was in 1980.
Edwards is no stranger to shark fishing. He’s been doing it for 10 years. Edwards had never hooked into anything like that before. Not even close.
“We catch 6-footers all the time,” Edwards said. “We’ve been going for something bigger than that for 10 years.”
Until Saturday, Edwards had always come up empty.
“It started out with me and my dad,” Edwards said. “We’d go out and catch fish. You are always trying to catch a bigger fish, so you can brag to your buddies about it.”
When Edwards reeled in the hammerhead Saturday, he waded with it in the shallow part of the beach, trying to revive it. Edwards said he practices catch-and-release, which he says is common with those who fish for sharks. The hammerhead died, though, so he donated it to a local church so it could be used to feed the hungry, he said.
“It was very depressing for me to see that we couldn’t get it to come back,” Edwards said.
It was the one downside to a memorable fishing weekend.
“It’s still hard for me to believe that it happened,” Edwards said, “and I was there.”