SEASIDE PARK – Cole Anderson said he could tell he had hooked something big right away.
Fishing on the 23rd Avenue beach about 8 p.m. Monday with friends Michael Conklin, Lucas Iovino, Alex Danelson, Jake Rosenthal, Tristan Pedre, Reese Miller, and Ariana Roth, Anderson had no idea what it was at the end of the line.
But when he and his friends finally hauled it in after a fight of 45 minutes to an hour, they pulled up a sand tiger shark that was more than 7 feet long and weighed about 200 pounds. It took two of them to pull it out of the surf for photographs.
“We’ve been after about one this big for awhile,” said Toms River resident Anderson, 18, who graduated this June from High School North. “It’s kind of a goal of the shark fisherman to get something this big.”
The shark, which had been tagged previously for research, was released back into the sea after Anderson and his friends posed for photos.
“He swam away as soon as we let him go,” Anderson said.
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Cole Anderson and the sand tiger shark he caught Monday, Aug. 1, on Seaside Park beach. Courtesy Of Cole Anderson
Sand tiger sharks are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “prohibited list,” which means they must be released after being caught. Many shark species mature slowly and have few pups at a time, so they are particularly vulnerable to “increased mortality from fishing and other human activities,” according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Anderson estimated the sand tiger he caught was 6 to 7 years old.
Reports of some sharks, including the massive great white, have become more frequent in recent years along the Jersey Shore. Scientists believe the great white is making a comeback of sorts, according to a new study led by the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration’s Fisheries Services.
When the ocean temperature warms up in New Jersey to about 60 degrees, which can happen in May or June, many species of sharks can frequent the coast.
“Generally, what you see now in the summer months is more sharks will move up with the warm water,” John Carlson, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Asbury Park Press in 2014.
Michael Conklin (l), Alex Danelsen, Lucas Iovino and Cole Anderson with sand tiger shark they caught off Seaside Park beach Aug. 1. Jake Rosenthal
Anderson said he has been fishing for many years, and has in recent times concentrated on shark fishing. He and his friends catch bluefish on the beach and then kayak out several hundred feet into the ocean to toss the cut up bluefish into the sea as shark bait.
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To hook the sand tiger, he used a conventional reel, but with more than 500 yards of braided line and a 12/0 circle hook, which is “about the size of your palm,” Anderson said.
His battle with the shark attracted a small crowd of onlookers, he said. “People are always surprised that there are sharks in the water, even locals,” Anderson said.
Anderson will attend Kings College in Pennsylvania in the fall, but says he will continue fishing and hopes one day to hook an even bigger shark. “That’s always the goal,” he said.
Jean Mikle covers Toms River and several other Ocean County towns, and has been writing about local government and politics at the Jersey Shore for nearly 38 years. A finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in public service, she’s also passionate about the Shore’s storied music scene. Contact her: @jeanmikle, [email protected]