A Maryland angler’s epic battle with a giant thresher shark could be one for the record books, but regardless it was a day on the water Nick Skidmore will never forget.
“The fight took 2 hours and 20 minutes, the shark breached several times, and it was an amazing sight,” Skidmore, who was fishing with friends in a weekend tournament, told USA Today.
The thresher shark, caught Friday, tipped the scale at 644.9 pounds. That beats the state record, set in 2009, by two pounds.
However, because the shark was dispatched alongside the boat with a gun, the catch might not qualify for a state record.
International Game Fish Assn. rules state that fish that are shot cannot qualify for IGFA records.
But it remains unclear whether the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will adhere to IGFA rules, in this case, and deny Skidmore a state record.
Skidmore said the DNR has suggested that he apply for record consideration, keeping his hopes alive.
“I would love for it to be a record, but at the same time I understand the rules,” the angler said. “But I would do it all the same if I had to do it again.”
Skidmore explained that the alternative, once he decided to keep the shark, was to drag it behind the boat in what he considered a less-humane method of killing the shark.
Plus, the shark’s dangerous tail fin alone measured 8 feet. Thresher sharks use their flexible tail fins to whip and slice through schooling baitfish. Handling large sharks alive, Skidmore said, “can get out of hand real quick.”
Thresher sharks are not protected in Maryland waters, and the catch earned Skidmore first place in the thresher shark category of the Mako Mania Tournament out of Ocean City.
He and his team, Fishful Thinking, had ventured 60 miles offshore in Skidmore’s 25-foot boat to target mako sharks and thresher sharks.
The thresher shark was baited with a mackerel fillet, and the anglers were astonished to discover that the shark, including its tail fin, was nearly 20 feet long.
The shark was too heavy to be hoisted onto the boat, so it was tied alongside the vessel and towed to port, where a crowd had gathered to witness the weigh-in.
Skidmore, a lifelong angler, said it was the largest fish he had ever seen.
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