I caught a 8’2” Lemon Shark in a 15’ jon boat.

SCliving Outdoors

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My buddy Justin and I met when I was a junior in high school. It was my first year at this new small private Christian school in Orangeburg, SC. Up until that point I had been homeschooled. We immediately hit it off because of our mutual love for hunting, and fishing. We began camping, hunting, fishing, running trot, setlines, and everything in between all across SC. Since then school has become jobs and girlfriends have become wifes, but I am one of the few people that is fortunate enough to say I’ve had the same best friend since high school. Not much is changed. We still talk to each other every few days and go fishing or hunting together on a weekly basis. Justin is a taxidermist and meat processor so I haven’t been able to wrangle him out west for a hunt yet but it’s coming in the near future. Every year we do a few excursions to Florida or Louisiana or somewhere like that to do some fishing and in 2 weeks we’re headed down to FL to chase Snook, Jack Crevalle and sharks. Neither of us come from money and we’ve always fished out of jon boats. Rivers, ponds, streams, inlets, harbors, duck hunting, deer hunting by water we are jon boat guys. We often find a humorous when we talk to guys in $50,000 boats or more that haven’t caught anything.

A few weeks ago Justin told me that he and his wife’s family were going to be down at Folly Beach for the week. I told him if they weren’t busy on Saturday I’d come down and we could go shark fishing. We made the plan and I headed down. We go shark fishing a few times each year and have caught some nice sharks but nothing that we would consider really really big. I’ve always said it’s my goal to catch a shark that scares me when it comes up beside the boat.

We had the boat in the water at 6:20 and we were fishing by 6:45. Not much happened until the tide changed and we moved locations around 8 o’clock. We set up on the incoming tide side of a submerged point where the water went from about 30 feet up to 5 or 10. For about 45 minutes the fishing was really good. We had five different runs, caught three sharks, one bonnethead and a couple of black tips and that was it for a while. We decided we were going to fish till 12 o’clock and then he would go back and spend the rest of the day with his crew and I would make the 3 hour drive back home. I looked at the clock and it was 11:53 we had not had a bite in at least 2 1/2 hours. We were making plans on heading back to the dock after catching a few fish but mainly talking about our Florida trip. My rod tip began to slowly bend and the reel started to click. The clicking sped up and sped up some more. I reeled down and pulled up doing my best to bury the big circle hook in whatever was on the other end of my line. The fish was not a fan. He took off ripping off line like it was just another Sunday stroll. I tighten the drag down and tightened it down. Finally he slow down a little bit. Justin was doing his best to get our other rods in as the fish pulled me the boat and the anchor up the inlet. He took off again, and we ditched the anchor with the floats tied on so we could come back and get it later, and began to chase him with the boat.

I gained back the majority of my line, and with the boat free, we could just follow him around. The way he was staying down made me think it was a very large ray which we catch down there from time to time. Every so often I would think I felt a headshake, but I convinced myself it was the ray flapping its wings as it came up off the bottom. It wasn’t a ray. After about 15 minutes with my drag cranked down and giving the rod reel and the fish everything I had. The weight came up, followed by a 6 foot steel leader, and the biggest shark either of us had ever seen. Justin said “Holy *^%# !” I said “Look at the size of that thing!” For the next 15 minutes he showed us he wasn’t done fighting and I would bring him up every time he went back down. We were not 100% confident what kind of shark it was so in the end we pulled him up beside the boat to mark off the length and cut him loose.

Afterwords, looking at pictures and descriptions we feel pretty confident it was a Lemon Shark. We measured the boat where we marked him off after getting back to the truck and he was 8’2”. Based on his length and a chart I found online he was probably about 240 pounds. He was legal to keep by over 40” but we weren’t sure so it wasn’t worth chancing it.

It only took 18 years or so, but we finally caught a big one. It was a team effort and I can’t wait to do it again no matter who’s on the rod!

The pics don’t do him justice.
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Very nice catch! That's gotta be one of the coolest parts about fishing saltwater to me, you never know when a giant fish is going to give you a great fight.
 

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