(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — A group of teenagers out on a charter fishing trip off of Fort Lauderdale got a rare surprise when they found themselves grappling with a 12-foot, 1,000 pound great white shark.
The four teenagers, who play baseball at Tallahassee Community College, were aboard Taco Perez’s 45-foot charter boat Hooked Up off of Port Everglades Inlet on Tuesday morning when the huge shark was hooked.
“When we got the leader we were like what the hell … this is too big to be a bull shark. We were as surprised as anybody,” Perez told ABC News.
Capt. Paul Paolucci, 38, was with the small fishing group on the six hour trip.
“We had been fishing for about four hours,” Paolucci said. “He swam up and ate our big bait, the bonito. When we saw him, we knew it was going to be a fight. We knew it was going to be something really big.”
The teens — Harry Andro, Josh Shailer and Jared and Tanner Elliott – along with one of the teen’s father and mother, all took turns grappling with the great white using a Penn International 80 fishing reel, in a battle that lasted about two hours.
“Everyone was really excited,” Paolucci said. “It was amazing to see. They didn’t know what we were up against.”
During the struggle, the hook slipped out of the great white’s mouth and caught him in his side, Paolucci said. After a while, the shark was released.
“We ended up just cutting him loose. Nobody wanted to stick their hand down there,” he said.
On top of their rare hooking, the group had an excellent day at sea, having also caught mahi-mahi, king mackerel, bonito, and black fin tuna. But Paolucci said that Tuesday’s great white is his most memorable catch.
“We catch a lot of sharks,” he said. “But nothing like that. That was by far the biggest.”
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