News of a large bull shark being trapped in a pound net in Chesapeake Bay has drawn a lot of attention.
By Pierce W. Huff
Larry “Boo” Powley, a waterman who lives in Hoopers Island, Md., said his phone hasn’t stopped ringing since he accidentally caught an 8.6-foot, 310-pound bull shark in his pound net at the mouth of the Patuxent River in Southern Maryland last week.
Suddenly Powley is perhaps the most popular commercial fisherman in the Chesapeake Bay area.
“I didn’t think this would happen,” he said. “I feel like Captain Flynn.”
That was before a family friend put a picture of him and the bull shark on Facebook and it went viral with more than 650,000 views, attracting media attention from the likes of the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and many of the TV stations in the region.
The big shark has brought a peak of excitement for the long-time waterman. who’s used to a busy life without a lot of fanfare. It’s early mornings to get his catch to the market, and long days tending to his nets and looking for great fishing spots.
Aside from his occasional television appearances as the spokesman for local fisherman, few people knew Powley existed before last week.
“It’s not a surprise about the attention gathered, because it was a large bull shark,” said Erik Zlokovitz a recreational fisheries outreach coordinator with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “We’ve seen more of them average 6 to 8 feel, so this shark was a little bigger than normal.”
Bull sharks are common in the bay this time of year — thanks to the surplus of a large variety of fish in the area — but reports of accidental shark entrapments in commercial-fishing nets are not as common.
Powley, who usually fishes for menhaden, said he has caught bull sharks before in his traps and has seen the damage from ones that have fought their way out of the entanglement. The fish was already dead when he got it to the boat.
“I’ve been on the water for 42 years,” Powley told the Baltimore Sun. “I’ve never seen one that big.”
Powley said you have to be careful when dealing with bull sharks, because they can be dangerous and ornery. “Most of the time they are very aggressive,” he said.
Zlokovitz said the sharks will be moving out of the bay in the next month as soon as the temperature cools to below 70 degrees.
They will return to the area again next summer. It’s an annual trend.
Yet, life on the water has taught Powley to expect anything.
“You never know what you will find,” he said.