Huge hammerhead is top shark in Edisto Shark tourney

The crew is dwarfed next to the 470-pound hammerhead shark

Hunter Sutcliff of Orangeburg tamed a real brute on June 11 when he reeled in a 470-pound hammerhead shark to win the Inaugural EWT Thirsty Fish Shark Tournament out of Edisto.

Fishing with veteran anglers Capt Scott Hiott and Freddy Avant, both of Walterboro, Sutcliff, 14, grabbed the rod right after the big shark struck and held on for the full 3-hour fight.

Fishing out of a 27-foot Island Runner boat, the winning crew left the Edisto Marina at 5 a.m. and headed to a spot well known to them.

“We are pretty sure that this is the same shark we saw chase a 20-pound cobia we caught two weeks ago,” said Avant. “We were back in that same spot in about 16 miles out and in 70 feet of water when the big shark ate a chunk of barracuda.”

“We use a Mustad 14/0 circle hook because a shark has a hard mouth, and we’ve learned the hard way that you want to aim for the corner of the mouth,” he said.

Their Penn reel was spooled with 80-pound Cajun mono and paired with a heavy 130-class Tidewater rod.

“The hammerhead grabbed the bait about 8 a.m. and dumped half the spool before we were able to give chase,” Avant said

After a 1-1/2-mile pursuit, Sutcliff reeled the shark to the boat, where the crew tied a rope around the massive head of the shark like a boat cleat and then heaved the beast aboard.

“The shark was spent at this point and the rope also clamped against its gills and it died within about five minutes of us putting that rope on it,” said Avant. “Baxter Culler was also with us, and it took all four of us to get that shark in the boat.”

After a 30-minute run to the scale at Edisto Water Sports, the hammerhead was measured to be 10 feet, four inches long and weighed 470 pounds. The crew earned first place in the tournament, good for $2,050 and bragging rights for the summer.

Second place went to a 220-pound Tiger shark weighed in by Barry Fontaine of Edisto, which was good for $630. Fishing with Capt. Jeremy Parsons of Bullfrog Charters on his 21-foot Triton, they experienced boat trouble and fished a full 15 miles inshore of where they planned to be. They used a Mustad 13/0 hook on a Shimano reel spooled with 50-pound test line.

“We got lucky with that Tiger shark, and we also fought and released another one about the same size that day,” Fontaine said. “We were using barracuda for bait, which we call shark candy, because it’s the favorite food of Tiger sharks. We used a homemade harpoon to get the shark on the boat.”

David Shaw of Hollywood finished in third place with a 186-pound Tiger shark, good for $420. Fishing out of a 20-foot Pro Craft boat with friends Keith Scott and James Cox, they were at the B-Can about 700 yards off the beach when the shark hit at 9:15 that morning. After a 35-minute fight Shaw had reeled in the biggest shark he has ever caught.

To see more photos of the huge hammerhead, visit the Tournaments Forum.

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