There’s nothing like staring down the mouth of a 400-pound shark to get the adrenaline pumping.


Ever since the movie Jaws hit the big screen in 1975 there’s been a fascination with shark.

Here on the Emerald Coast, anglers don’t have to wait for the Discovery Channels' annual Shark Week, this year airing July 28-Aug. 4, to hook a shark. They have the opportunity most every day.

Earlier this week a few visitors got the chance to latch on to what Capt. Neill Finkel of the charter boat Shock’n Y’all refers to as “the last monster.”

“They’re a monster,” he said of shark.

Most people who come to the area are used to catching bass, bream and pike, Finkel said.

“But when you start pulling on a fish that weighs as much as a motorcycle or a car, it’s a whole other ball game. And when they open their mouth next to the boat … the magic is there,” Finkel said.

Kevin Hartman, along with his 12-year-old son Max, and Dylan Beach and his 12-year old son, Hunter, all of St. Louis, chartered the Shock’n Y’all on Wednesday and got a taste of what it’s like to tangle with a shark.

“It was tougher than I thought … my back is feeling it, and my arms,” Kevin said. “It was all I wanted. I didn’t want another one, put it that way.”

Kevin fought the almost 400-pound tiger shark for almost an hour before they got it close enough to the boat for a few photos and then cut it loose. Finkel said they were using a 9-ought with 130-pound line, 20-ought Eagle Claw Lazar Sharp hook with 400-pound wire.

“We were ready for anything,” Finkel said.

“He took us all around the boat … he took us wherever he wanted to take us. It was a blast,” Kevin said.

Young Max also hooked up with a shark.

“I got a baby shark … a mini version of a tiger shark,” he said, adding it didn't pull “as hard as a real one.”

However, Max did admit to being a bit scared on the water.

“The only thing I was worried about, we were on top of some waves and I didn’t want a shark to like get on the boat.”

Finkel said it’s not unusual for fishermen to get a little scared when shark fishing.

“They are always scared. It was like a farm pond out there today. But you see one little wave and you see the white knuckles holding on,” he said.

As for the Grauel family from Indiana, they got an up close and personal look at a shark this week as well.

Jacob Grauel hooked a roughly 200-pound dusky shark while fishing with Capt. Judah Barbee on the Stelluna on Tuesday afternoon.

“It was really hard and my muscles are really sore right now,” said the 14-year-old as soon as they got back to the docks.

Jacob said it only took about 15 minutes to get the shark to the boat.

However, captain pulled the shark up on the edge of the boat to get a few photos before cutting it loose.

When asked if it got a little too close, Jacob said, “Yeah a little bit. It was a lot bigger than I expected it to be. It fought hard.”

For Jacob, who is on his school's fishing team back home, he said the shark was by far the largest thing he’s ever pulled in.

“It definitely pulled harder than a bass,” Jacob said.

“It was very exciting,” said Chasity, his mom. “He kept going around the side of the boat, it was awesome.”

Dad had a good time as well.

“We went just for the excitement of reeling something like that in,” Brad said.

Capt. Barbee said they caught the shark on a 14-ought hook with a 250-pound leader using cut up bonito for bait.

And it didn’t take long to find one.

Fishing about three to four miles out, “We sent the bait down and it hit bottom, waited about five minutes, then it started taking line,” Barbee said.

“I went into shark fishing so naive not expecting how hard it would be,” Jacob said. “But I’d do it a 100 times again.”