Commercial fisherman Mike Huff said the media storm he’s received over the past few days after catching a 14-foot, 900-pound tiger shark in 10 feet of water off Folly Beach on Monday has been fun, but a bit surprising.
“This was a nice fish, but this isn’t this biggest shark we’ve ever caught, and we’ve caught several sharks pretty close to this size last month,” said Huff. “We also had another 500-pound shark we caught that same night, and the next night, we caught a 600- to 700-pound tiger shark.”
Huff was long-line fishing with Capt. Joe Morris aboard Morris’ aptly named “The Shark Boat” when the pair caught the big fish.
Huff said he and Morris go out at night during the commercial shark-fishing season and set their commercial long lines right at dark, and then come back to check them at daylight the next day. The lines are about 1,500 yards long, with 50 hooks each set at 20- to 30-yard intervals and anchored by weights and floats on each end. The two fishermen use whatever they can find for bait and allow the food chain to take it from there.
“We use whiting, menhaden, whatever we can find, and the smaller blacktips and bonnetheads end up eating that and get hooked,” said Huff. “Later, the big sharks will come along and eat the smaller sharks that have been hooked. This particular fish ate a 3 ½-pound bonnethead shark and had a bunch of blacktips in her belly.”
Huff said the best shark he can recall catching was a 16-foot hammerhead that weighed in the 1,200-pound range. He and Morris have several 1,100- to 1200-pound tigers and hammerheads to their credit over the years, usually caught less than a mile from the local beaches at night.
“We hand line them in and use a flying gaff to get them over the side of the boat,” he said. “The ones too heavy to lift, we have to tow back into the inlet and cut them up to get them in the boat.”
Huff and Morris sell the sharks they are permitted to catch during the Large Coastal Shark Season, which opens July 1 and runs until the annual quota is met.