By CAM Staff
A shore-based charter fishing group intended to catch the largest shark they could from Pensacola Beach, Fla. on Feb. 12. They did not, however, expect to crank in the estimated 13-foot great white that picked up their bait.
John McLean, of Big John Shark Fishing Adventures, runs shore-based charter trips for clients who want to catch the fish of lifetime. On this particular trip, his clients wanted to “go big, or go home,” so they used a huge yellowfin tuna head for bait and enlisted the help of local charter captain, Capt. David Miller, who paddled a small kayak 900 yards off the beach in rough surf to deploy the bait.
Normally, McLean uses a remote-controlled boat to deploy his baits, but these baits were too large for the RC boat to handle. They had a big fish on before Miller even made it back to shore.
“As soon as his kayak had hit the sand, we were hooked up to a massive shark,” said McLean in a YouTube video documenting the catch.
“I’ve never seen one that fast before,” he says as line rips off the spool of an oversized big game reel.
All four of his clients took turns cranking the reel while everyone else gathered around to help secure the rod rack Mclean drives into the sand and uses to battle giant sharks. Even with heavy gear, the torque of the fight with heavy braided line loosened the reel from the reel seat.
“This shark was the strongest fish I had ever had on the line. It took all four of my clients switching in and out to land this shark,” McLean said. “This is the only time I’ve ever seen my fishing gear pushed to the absolute limit.”
It took a little more than an hour to bring the giant shark into the surf, and as soon as McLean realized it was a great white, his attention turned to releasing it as quickly as possible. They used a tail rope to control the giant white shark, and with the leader removed from its mouth, pulled it into deeper water to revive it before it swam away on its own.
White sharks are federally protected. They must be released immediately when they are caught, so McLean did not take measurements. However, he has extensive experience with big sharks, and he estimated this one at about 13 feet. A 13-foot white shark can easily weigh more than 1,000 pounds.
Great whites are a rare catch in the Gulf of Mexico, and especially from shore. This was not McLean’s first monster white shark, though. In early March of 2021, also on shore-based charter in Pensacola Beach, McLean’s clients caught and released an estimated 12-footer.
Check out Big John Shark Fishing Adventures at bigjohnsharkfishingadventures.com