Jeff Fangman accomplished a rare feat recently while fishing from the shore of Camp Pendleton north of San Diego. The U.S. Marine reeled in a great white shark, which he subsequently released because the species is protected.
The catch of a juvenile white shark measuring about 10 feet was made October 27, but Fangman did not share the story beyond his circle of friends until this week.
The avid big-game angler had recently moved to California from the Gulf Coast and was accompanied by his wife and daughter. He used heavy gear and delivered the bait far offshore via a kayak.
He was targeting sharks or stingrays, but never expected to set his hook into the jaws of the planet's most notorious marine predator.
During an exclusive interview with 10 News, Fangman said that he had landed plenty of large sharks when he fishing Gulf Coast waters. "Bull sharks, tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, lemon sharks," he said.
He also knew that when the line started spinning off his reel, he had something big on the other end.
"Lo and behold, it ended up being a great white," he said.
Juvenile great white sharks utilize Southern California coastal waters as a feeding area. They're sometimes caught unintentionally by commercial gillnet fishermen, but they're rarely hooked by anglers.
Very few have been hooked from the beach, and in recent years a few have been hooked from piers.
In the summer of 2011, for example, an angler on Huntington Beach Pier in Orange County gaffed and hauled up a great white, and after sharing his celebrated catch on YouTube he fell under investigation and was ultimately fined by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Last summer off Manhattan Beach Pier in Los Angeles County, an angler was persuaded to cut the line after reeling a great white to the pier only after a heated argument with a marine biologist who threatened to call police.
Fortunately, Fangman was aware that white sharks are a protected species and was able to help get the predator back into its domain, and watched it swim off.
"Just still kind of elated at the moment," he told 10 News.
–Photos are via Facebook