Not bad for a guy who was only planning to catch a few sea bass.
Last Sunday, when everyone else in New Jersey was fishing for pollock or porgy, Joe Welsh managed to reel in a 475-pound mako shark.
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Welsh, an angler from Hopatcong, was out with a chartered fishing trip about 75 miles off the coast when he made the catch. Even the boat’s captain, Howard Bogan of Bogan’s Deep Sea Fishing Center, was taken aback by the massive mako, which apparently put up a “real battle” before Welsh got him into his boat, a 125-foot vessel known as “The Jamaica.”
“Joe Welsh is one of the best sea bass fishermen I’ve met, and also a regular on the Jamaica,” Capt. Bogan wrote on Facebook, adding that Welsh was having success reeling him sea bass from “his usual spot” in the bow of the vessel.
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According to Bogan, Welsh had initially hooked a dogfish and had actually pulled it partway out of the water when the mako emerged and chomped at his catch.
“[Welsh] said it was the most remarkable thing he’s ever seen,” Bogan told USA Today’s For the Win.
Welsh dropped his catch back into the water and watched the shark gobble it up. He then reeled it in close enough to gaff, and “that’s when the real battle began,” according to Bogan’s Facebook post.
“Once the second and third gaff were sunk into the mako it went berserk. By the time the tail rope was on the shark, three gaff hooks were straightened out, and two other gaff poles practically exploded!” Bogan wrote.
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In the end, and with the help of his fellow fishermen, Welsh ended up reeling in the largest fish in The Jamaica’s history, which was estimated to be just over 475 pounds.
“We have caught large sharks at this time of year before, but not quite that big,” Bogan told For the Win.
According to the outlet, Welsh also shared plenty of his catch with the 50-plus fishermen on The Jamaica, sending them home with shark filets for later.
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Mako shark, of which there are both shortfin and longfin species, are currently listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which cites overfishing and the species’ low reproduction rates as factors. As a result, mako under a certain length – 83 inches from tip to tail, as of 2018, according to NorthJersey.com – are illegal to keep.