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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Angler lands 1,280 pounder
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, a 14-foot, 1,280-pound shark is caught in Boca Grande Pass.
By DAVID A. BROWN
Published May 26, 2006
[Photo by David A. Brown]
Given a shark's habit of eating hooked tarpon, Clyde Dennis surmised that local anglers would consider his 14-foot, 3-inch catch a public service.
[Photo by Doug Bunnell]
Clyde Dennis and friends load the shark onto a boat trailer for transport to a truck weigh station where it registered at a whopping 1,280 pounds.
BY THE NUMBERS
To put the size of the hammerhead shark caught off of Boca Grande by Clyde "Bucky" Dennis into perspective compare it to the lovable Mini Cooper: HAMMERHEAD:
14 feet, 3 inches
1,280 pounds MINI COOPER:
11 feet, 9 inches
BOCA GRANDE - Tarpon anglers have one less nuisance to worry about, thanks to Clyde "Bucky" Dennis, who caught a pending record hammerhead shark weighing 1,280 pounds Tuesday.
Dennis was actually looking for a record shark in the world-famous tarpon waters of Boca Grande Pass - between Gasparilla Island and Cayo Costa - when opportunity met preparation.
The Port Charlotte angler armed himself with a 6-foot stump-puller stand-up rod strapped to an 8/0 Penn reel loaded with 130-pound braided line. For bait he used a 20-pound live stingray on a 12/0 hook with 24 feet of 600-pound wire leader. A shoulder harness with a rod gimbal provided additional leverage.
Dennis hooked his shark around 11:30 a.m. and called friends Jimmy Willis and Larry Mack, both of Port Charlotte, who jumped aboard his 23-foot bay boat to assist. The shark towed Dennis' boat approximately 12 miles into the Gulf of Mexico before the crew could sink the first of two flying gaffs into it.
After an intense struggle, they gaffed the shark around the dorsal fin, fought it for another 30 minutes then sank a second gaff behind the right gills. A tail rope completed the capture.
Dennis secured the shark outside his boat, towed it into Gasparilla Marina and loaded it onto a boat trailer for transport around 8 p.m. At that hour, the nearest certified scale he could locate was at the truck weigh station on the Boca Grande Causeway. The shark measured 14 feet, 3 inches.
"I thought he was a record when we first saw him as he crossed (a sand bar)," Dennis said. "He was on top of the water so I could see how big he was. Once we got him to the boat, he didn't look as long as I thought he was, but then I saw the girth and I knew he was going to be a record."
The International Gamefish Association all-tackle record for hammerhead shark is a 991-pounder caught off Sarasota on May 30, 1982.
The IGFA keeps all-tackle records for the heaviest fish of a species caught by an angler in any line class up to 130 pound. An IGFA record application available at http://igfa.org/IGFARecApp.pdf) must be submitted along with a sample of the line or tippet and an application fee of $25 for IGFA members or $50 for non-members. The organization is reviewing his catch, a process that will take about 60 days.
An experienced angler, Dennis was well aware of the brute strength he faced. "I was a little nervous toward the end when we tried to gaff him," he said. "That's when you either catch him or you don't. They start to spin and they can (break off) at that point."
The 36-year-old angler said he had been pursuing a record shark for several years. His window of opportunity is May through early July, when a shark's major food source is available.
"When the tarpon are here, the sharks are here," Dennis said.
Given the sharks' habit of eating hooked tarpon, Dennis surmised that Boca Grande anglers would consider his catch a public service. "The guys in the pass hate those things - I did them a favor."
Dennis spotted his hammerhead as it was chasing a hooked tarpon under a guide's boat. The hammerhead was accompanied by two bull sharks, which gave way to the bigger predator.
"The hammerheads have jurisdiction over the bull sharks," Dennis said. "They get to eat first."
He donated the big fish to the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, which plans to have it mounted and displayed. Center director Robert Hueter said researchers prefer that people tag and release large sharks because they help sustain the species.
"But we are grateful that this animal has been donated to science. It will help us understand more about these animals," Hueter said.
The largest shark ever hooked was a 2,664-pound great white caught off the southern coast of Australia in 1959.