Either there’s something in the water, or a pair of Florida anglers have a knack for catching world record sharks.
Joey Polk and his cousin Earnie Polk are making news with their potential world record-breaking mako. With Earnie’s assistance, Joey caught what is likely a new world record shortfin mako from the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico near Navarre, Fla., about a half hour outside of Pensacola.
The 11-foot, 805-pound mako was taken with heavy tackle after nearly an hour of struggling in the late-night hours of Tuesday last week.
Any hopes the duo had of avoiding publicity faded with the snap of a camera. With the tail and dorsal fin spilling out of Polk’s truck, it would’ve been hard not to notice the giant shark, especially when transporting in broad daylight.
A photo of the mako was taken by a passerby at a Florida gas station and quickly went viral over the weekend when the Pensacola News Journal posted the photo on their Facebook page. With over 3,000 shares and interest spreading, it didn’t take long before the newspaper tracked down the anglers.
“That’s probably the best fish we ever caught,” Earnie Polk told the Pensacola News Journal. “You’ll spend many, many hours to catch a fish of that caliber, or a fish of that size.”
The cousins typically return what they catch—of the 300 sharks they caught in the last year, roughly 20 weren’t returned to the water. In most instances, the cousins cooperated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and their National Marine Fisheries Service’s Cooperative Shark Tagging Program in tagging the sharks they catch for the agency before release.
However, the possible record-breaking mako was one instance where they determined the shark was too injured to be returned.
“We release about 98 percent of what we catch…we only bring in the ones too injured to swim away,” said Polk.
Plus, they were probably aware that the mako was one for the record books. After all, the cousins are no strangers when it comes to world-record sharks.
The Milton, Fla., resident already holds an International Land-Based Shark Fishing Association record for tiger sharks with his 949-pounder caught in 2010, just a month after Earnie set the then world-record with a 928-pounder.
It just so happens that Earnie also currently holds the ILSFA world record for shore-caught makos with his 674-pounder caught in 2009. That record appears to be in jeopardy as Joey’s recent catch aims to smash that record. Joey has submitted his forms to the ILSFA for consideration as the new record-holder.
And, as you might imagine, Joey was there for and shares both of Earnie’s records.
- Alabama is currently one of the hottest states for trophy catfish, particularly monster blues, many of which are being caught in lakes Wheeler, Wilson and Pickwick on the Tennessee River. Guides like Mike Mitchell (right) of Southern Cats Guide Service, are helping clients catch numerous 80-pound-plus fish, like this 102-pounder landed by Joe Ludtke (left) in 2010.