tampabay.com

Bull shark caught off local dock

So a guy was fishing. Two friends and three hours later, he has a whopper of a tale.

By WILL VAN SANT
Published June 4, 2007


The night was black. The moon full. Live music from Vinoy Park floated in the salty air. But Ed Maloney was not at peace. Ed Maloney was thinking: I need a hand. I don't want to screw this up. Ed had been invited to his cousin Frank Maloney's Venetian Isles home Saturday for some backyard shark fishing. Ed's a novice angler, so when he felt what seemed to be a block of lead yank at his line, he knew it was time to call in reinforcements. "So I sit in the chair, " the more experienced Frank recalled Saturday, "and I said, 'Holy s---!' This is just the strongest thing I've ever felt!"

Frank Maloney, a real estate developer, had hooked bull sharks from the sea wall behind his home before. But smaller ones, as in only 200 to 300 pounds.

This was on another scale, so he called his neighbor, Chuck "Tuna" Meyer. He was in bed and his wife wasn't keen on him getting up, but Frank seemed urgent. "So I got over there in about 10 minutes, " Meyer said. "I couldn't believe it. This thing was incredible."

Bull sharks are in bays and inland waters this time of year to give birth to their "pups." After the effort they are hungry. Maloney's massive shark took a 6-pound bonita on 80-pound test-line, and a three-hour battle was joined.

Though populations of some sharks are dwindling, the bull is common in area waters. They are dangerous animals, pugnacious and aggressive. In 2000, a bull took the life of 69-year-old Thadeus Kubinski, when he jumped from a dock into Boca Ciega Bay.

The Maloneys' shark was too powerful for just one man, so every 20 minutes the Maloney cousins and Meyer, each 45 years old, would take turns in the chair, forearms aching, sweating through their clothes.

The sound of the reel's drag was so loud it woke up Frank Maloney's wife. They threw ice on the reel to keep it from overheating.

"I never thought we were going to get it in, " Frank said. "I thought we were going to break the line several times."

Finally the exhausted men got the exhausted animal to the sea wall, where they managed to sink a treble hook in its flesh. They lashed the shark in place and tried to get some rest. In the morning, friends came by to help them lift the animal to land.

They measured it at 8 feet 10 inches. The men didn't have a scale, but they estimated its weight at 650 to 700 pounds.

Frank said he called around to local fish markets, but no one was interested. He plans to mount the jaws and return the carcass to the sea.