Upstate angler catches new SC record spinner shark

spinner shark
Nikki Colwell poses with the new South Carolina state record spinner shark.

Spinner shark weighed 173 pounds, 5 ounces.

Nikki Colwell of Inman, S.C. caught the new South Carolina state record spinner shark on April 18, 2021. She was fishing with her dad about 8 miles out of Edisto Beach when she landed the big shark. Things got a little bit crazy once the shark saw the boat.

Colwell is used to catching big sharks, and for many years growing up, said she drove her parents crazy with predictions of catching a new record shark. She said it’s a dream come true.

After catching several sharks throughout the day, many of which were on the small side for Team Colwell, they were down to one piece of bait left. She put the bait — a large piece of cut mullet — on the bottom in about 40 feet of water. She was using a 400-pound leader tied to 130-pound mainline which was attached to a Shimano Tiagra 50 mounted on a Daiwa boat rod.

When the shark hit, Colwell said it seemed like a run-of-the-mill one.

“The shark was not putting up a fight really. It did some head shaking here and there and took a couple of small runs. But nothing dramatic,” she said.

Colwell, a pro staffer with Casting Queens, caught a 500-pound hammerhead last year, and compared to that shark, she said the spinner was a walk in the park. Until it saw the boat.

Once the beast was beside the boat, its relatively docile demeanor changed considerably.

Shark goes insane, but Colwell keeps her cool

“We got it to the boat, and that was when it really went crazy. We were about to gaff it, and it just went insane,” she said.

With only two anglers on board, her dad Rob Colwell was preparing to gaff it. So Nikki put the rod in a rod holder to try securing the shark with a tail rope. That’s when the shark broke the tip of the rod and a couple of eyelets. Then the spinner went on a run. Now, Colwell was forced to hand-line the shark with one hand while reeling with the other.

She got the shark close enough for her dad to gaff it, then she slipped the tail rope on. Just then, the hook came free from the shark’s mouth.

spinner shark
The shark was weighed at Charleston Harbor Marina.

“It’s a good thing we got the gaff in it and the tail rope on, because we would have lost it right then,” she said.

After getting back to Edisto, they took length and girth measurements and calculated the estimated weight. The estimate beat the previous state record, but no scale on Edisto was big enough to handle the shark. They called Charleston Harbor Marina and found out they had an SCDNR certified scale.

The drive was worth it

They loaded the shark back into the boat, trailered the boat, then drove to Charleston. They had the shark iced down with more than 100 pounds of ice. The scale proved it was worth the drive, showing the new record weight. But because it was a Sunday, Colwell had to wait until the next day for SCNDR to confirm the species and weight. Rob Colwell called a friend of his in Charleston that owns a restaurant. Luckily they had a walk-in freezer that was vacant. They left the shark there, then headed home.

An SCDNR fisheries biologist confirmed the species the next day, and the agency also tested the scales to make sure they were working properly. Everything checked out and Colwell received her certificate as the new state record holder on May 17.


About Brian Cope 2745 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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