Avid angler reels in, releases 13-foot tiger shark in Florida

Shark advocate calls it his biggest catch ever

Photo courtesy of Elliot Sudal
Photo courtesy of Elliot Sudal

SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. – A Southwest Florida fisherman said after five hours of fighting a shark on the beach, he reeled in a 13-foot male tiger shark.

Fisherman Elliot Sudal said it all started Sunday in Lee County. He said he and a friend were looking for their next big catch near the Boca Grande pass, which is known to have giant sharks this time of year. 

"I had a cooler full of fresh Bonita and we got up there and set some baits. 25 hours go by... not one bite," Sudal wrote in an Instagram post.

Fearing the trip would go to waste, they moved south off the coast of Sanibel Island.

Sudal said he tossed some bait into the water, and within five minutes the shark was on the line. 

"It was the heaviest, most consistently unstoppable run of my life, not even slowing down at full drag" Sudal said. 

Sudal said he fought with the shark for miles before it was eventually reeled into a sandbar in about two feet of water.

"I’ve never dealt with a shark this size, and in my experience they are much easier to tag," the caption read.

After a bit of measuring, Sudal said the shark ended up being 13 feet, 2 inches, and approximately 1,100 pounds.

Sudal is the founder of the Nantucket Shark Tagging Club, which works with NOAA's Apex Predator Tagging Program to promote shark conservation and tagging. Part of his mission is to teach anglers to safely catch and release sharks from the beach.

Pictures posted on Sudal's Instgram show him tagging the big tiger shark before he removes the hook and releases it back to sea.

"Tiger sharks are a rare species to see here, and it’s a great sign at how strong the shark populations are returning after the red tide this summer," he wrote.

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