When Derrick Keeny and his buddies set out for some shark fishing along Panama City Beach, the last thing they thought they would see was a Great White.
"I'm still blown away by it. Lost for words, Keeny said.
But low and behold, early in the hours of Sunday morning, they made fishing history.
"I put hooks in the fish, and when I put hooks in the fish, it started tearing line off the reel," he told FOX 13 on Tuesday.
He immediately knew they were dealing with something big. Very big.
"That's when I started hollering for everyone to wake up because we had a good fish on the line," he said.
For nearly an hour, Derrick and his friends – including Gabriel Smeby – worked to get the fish to shore.
"We were up and down, over and around on sandbars," Smeby said. "We get up there close, and all we see is a big, grey back and a dorsal fin."
Moment later, they were staring a Great White Shark in the face. They become the first known fishermen to ever catch a Great White from the Gulf while standing on dry land, NOAA officials said Tuesday.
The men estimate it was only a few hundred yards from the shore.
"It turned sideways in the surf, and it donned on me what it was," Smeby said. "It was a Great White, and I hollered back to them. From there on, it was pretty much controlled chaos."
They brought the shark to shore, tagged it, and then released it back into the Gulf. The fishermen are a part of a group called Dark Side Sharkers.
They tag and then release all of their catches.
Keeny said they've never even seen a Great White in person – let alone so close to the shore. Amazingly, they said the Great White was very calm the entire time.
"Luckily, this was an extremely tame shark," Smeby said.
Perhaps a tame Great White, but it's certainly not a tame story.
One they never expected, and one they'll never forget.
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