Robstown angler Poco Cedillo and a team of friends spent two days fishing on Padre Island National Seashore and got only a single bite.
But the fish was 14 feet long and probably weighed more than 900 pounds, according to local marine biologists. The fight lasted an hour and 15 minutes, from atop the platform on Cedillo’s pickup, which was parked between the 20- and 30-mile markers on the national seashore.
Cedillo performed some quick measurements and removed the hook, while keeping the shark submerged in the surf.
“We could see she was exhausted, so we wanted to get her revived and released as quickly as possible,” the longtime shark angler said.
Cedillo and his three fishing buddies spent about 40 minutes trying to revive the beast in deeper water, but it didn’t survive.
During the past 20 years, Cedillo has embedded research tags in about 100 other sharks. He said this one’s de̳a̳t̳h̳ sucked all of the excitement out of his monumental feat.
Determined not to let the fish die completely in vain, he and his crew filleted it and donated 400 pounds of prime shark meat to the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission.
By far, this was the biggest shark Cedillo has landed. Last month, he caught and successfully released a hammerhead that measured 11-feet, 8 inches. And last year, he bested all anglers in the prestigious Sharkathon tournament by catching the biggest shark of the contest, an 8-foot bull.
While filleting the the big hammerhead, Cedillo and his crew discovered 15 stingray barbs embedded in the flesh. One barb was about 12 inches beneath the skin and two were very near its spine.
While rays are a staple of the shark’s diet, it’s unclear whether the venomous barbs might have caused any heath problems in Cedillo’s hammerhead, according to shark researcher Greg Stunz, director of the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation and endowed chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health at the Harte Research Institute.
“It’s common to find stingray barbs around a big shark’s mouth,” Stunz said. “We see that all the time. While conducting a necropsy, my research crew found seven barbs embedded in the jaws of a spinner shark and several others elsewhere.”
Ironically, Cedillo used a 12-pound stingray as bait for this catch. He paddled the big bait about 500 yards beyond the breakers in a kayak. It sat idle for about four hours.
When the shark engulfed the bait, it power-swam another 400-500 yards farther out to sea before Cedillo turned it. He landed the exhausted fish around 4 p.m. Saturday before a crowd of about 30 spectators.
Watch video “Nearly 1,000 pound hammerhead shark caught on Texas beach”:
The story, photos and videos surrounding this catch have gained much attention on Facebook. Much of the feedback has been congratulatory, but some comments are vicious.
A local television report that failed to include Cedillo’s efforts to revive and release the shark probably helped to fuel much of the negative feedback, Cedillo believes.
In response, Cedillo posted a full explanation of the entire event on his Facebook page. In it he makes no apologies, while describing his disappointment about the unfortunate de̳a̳t̳h̳ of the magnificent fish.
And he thanked friends Timmy Tomlinson, Eddie Outlaw, and Brandon Brezina for their assistance during the futile attempt.