A shark’s tale
Spaniard’s Bay fisherman has meeting with porbeagle shark
The first day of the recreational fishery started off like any other for Fred Humber.
On July 20, the Spaniard’s Bay resident, along with his nephew, Troy Humber, and friend Kirk Smith were on the water of Fortune Harbour in the Bay of Exploits enjoying a storied Newfoundland tradition.
The trio, using Fred’s brother’s sixmetre aluminum vessel, were only out for an hour when something extraordinary happened.
Having already caught a dozen Atlantic cod, Fred dropped his line in looking to fill their maximum catch.
What he hooked wasn’t exactly what he had planned.
His hook brought up in something solid.
“I thought I had hooked the bottom at first because it was just one solid bring-up. I either snagged a rock or between rocks,” Fred told the Compass.
However, when he released the line, it started to move away from the boat.
That was when Fred realized he had hooked something big.
At first, he had no idea what could be on the other end of his line.
“I thought it could’ve been one of those large cod from days of old,” he said. “A 50 pound cod fish. There was a lot of power. So, we knew it was something strange.”
For five minutes, Fred, with the help of Troy, fought with the animal before eventually bringing it to the surface.
What came up was unexpected. Rising from the green depths was a porbeagle shark.
When it broke the surface, the beast was thrashing and did a couple of rolls in an attempt to break away from the line.
“We were shocked. Absolutely shocked,” said Fred. “We weren’t terrified, but we were anxious.”
The porbeagle is a species of mackerel shark and is often found in the waters of the North Atlantic.
As per Nature Canada, the porbeagle shark maxes out at 3.7 metres in length and 134 kilograms.
“He was a powerful beast,” said Fred.
The porbeagle is a shark that is not known to attack humans, but is a popular catch for recreational fisherman and commercial fisherman.
Probeagle males are thought to migrate along the Nova Scotian Shelf to the Newfoundland mating grounds in the spring.
Once Fred had tamed this wild monster, the next question was what to do with it.
“We had to do the right thing, and let it go,” he said.
There were a couple of options for doing that.
Fred, and his companions, thought to cut the line, leaving the hook in its mouth.
But, that could further harm the animal.
“He could have possibly swallowed that, and died,” he said.
That was when Troy took out his knife, gingerly reached over the boat and cut a tiny incision next to the hook.
After it was removed, the shark swam away from the boat.
“We were more than delighted,” said Fred.
A video was made of the catch and release, which Fred hopes to be able to show to his grandchildren.
Also, to his understanding, the footage has been taken by researchers and entered into their archives.
“It’s not a bad piece to show kids in school,” he said.
Fred does not know of anyone who has had this sort of interaction with a shark.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” he said.
Spaniard’s Bay’s Fred Humber holding a couple of cod fish.