A Florida fisherman was in the fight of his life to reel in this scary catch

Jun 4, 2024

Florida is home to some of the best saltwater fishing in the world.

But even for the most experienced anglers, the Sunshine State can test their skills. 

And a Florida fisherman was in the fight of his life to reel in this scary catch.

Florida fisherman battles to land a 12-foot tiger shark

Owen Prior is an experienced fisherman after running First Coast Surf Fishing in Jacksonville Beach, Florida on the state’s Atlantic coast.

First Coast Surf Fishing specializes in land-based fishing from Jacksonville’s beaches and extreme surf-based fishing.

“There is not a fish that lurks the surf zone or beyond that cannot be enticed into eating one of our baits. Conditions, tide, and time of year are all factors, but you name it we will catch it,” First Coast Surf Fishing says of its land-based charters.

Prior landed a 12-foot tiger shark after a nearly 25-minute battle at Jacksonville Beach.

“I’ve caught hundreds of sharks up to a 14-foot hammerhead, but that was my personal best tiger shark,” Prior said.

He said that he had been out for 12 hours fishing that day and was fast asleep at almost 4:00 am when the battle with the shark began.

“I was actually dead asleep when it happened and my friend, he was screaming ‘Owen!’ woke me up,” Prior told Fox 35 Orlando.

He was using a stingray as bait.

“I felt some weight for sure, I knew it was going to be a bigger fish,” Prior explained. “There’s some sharks that fight harder than others and believe it or not, tigers do not fight as hard as they might seem they do.”

But he didn’t even intend to catch a shark that day.

“We weren’t targeting that shark, it just happened to eat the bait. It’s the same bait for every shark, you never know what it’s going to eat,” Prior remarked.

Florida fisherman battles to reel in massive tiger shark

It took him about 25 minutes to reel the tiger shark to shore, where he took a quick picture with it before releasing it.

“Every step closer I took, she got bigger,” Prior recalled. “You come across like that not that often, but they’re out there.”

“I got lucky for sure, it was barely hooked,” Prior noted.

Tiger sharks are considered a prohibited species by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in state waters, so Prior had to release the shark back into the ocean. 

Technically, he wasn’t even allowed to snap a picture with the shark but he was willing to take that risk.

“Technically, you’re not allowed to take a photo with it. I don’t necessarily regret it, however that experience and photo I’ll remember forever,” Prior stated. That’s something I’ll tell my grandchildren one day; I definitely got caught up in the moment a little bit.”

He also used a barbless hook to make it easier to release. 

“All in all, it was a great experience having the ability to feel the power of a large shark like that and even better being able to safely remove the hook and watch her swim away back into the abyss with a free meal,” Prior said. “It’s one to remember.”

In the end, a fishing trip that looked like it might be a bust returned a record catch in the wee hours of the morning.

Read All About It will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.

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