A Florida man landcasting along the Florida coast reeled in a possible record-breaking Mako shark this week. Not a publicity seeker (and not wanting to give people the impression that the Florida Gulf Coast is infested with sharks), he thought he'd take his massive catch home. But that all changed when a curious onlooker saw the 805-pound shark stretched out in the bed of the Joey Polk's truck, its tail fin tied off and jutting out past the tailgate on the driver's side, when he stopped to get gas at a service station.
WKRG reported (via CNN) April 21 that the Instagram photo of Joey Polk's Mako shark quickly went viral and Joey, who said he liked to keep a low profile regarding his land-based fishing, found himself the center of quite a bit of unwanted attention.
According to the New York Daily News, Joey and two of his cousins were fishing along the coast of the Florida panhandle (the cousins refuse to disclose their fishing spot, fearing an influx of fishermen), when he snagged the giant shark. It took over an hour, Joey getting plenty of help from the cousins, to bring the big sea predator to shore.
"We tried to revive the fish and send him back out, but he was too worn out to swim," Polk told Daily News. "That's why we decided to keep him. We don't do it for the money, for the publicity, just to catch the fish."
"We release about 98% of what we catch...we only bring in the ones too injured to swim away," he told the Houston Chronicle.
He said killing a shark is always left as a last resort. Usually, they're caught, tagged, and released back into the ocean. Polk, who is 29 and lives in Milton, Fla., has three children. He says they seem eager to follow in his footsteps as a sport fishermen.
Although Fox News reported that the original plan was to harvest the shark meat and sell it, Joey and his family ended up cooking the shark for his hometown community, serving somewhere between 200-250 people, the Chronicle noted.
The catch was a special one. Mako sharks aren't known to frequent coastlines, preferring deeper, colder waters. But Joey Polk thinks it might be his best haul ever.
"This is probably our best catch ever," he told the Daily News. "They are not supposed to be here."
The 805-pound Mako was also a record-breaker, according to the International Land-Based Shark Fishing Association. It broke the previous record set by Joey's cousin, Earnie, who caught the new record catch on video.
Still, the 805-pound Mako shark isn't Joey Polk's largest catch. Nor was it his first record-breaker. In 2010, he landed a 949-pound Tiger shark while land-casting along the Florida shoreline, setting the International Land-Based Shark Fishing Association record for land-based catches for Tiger sharks.