After shark fishing for more than 20 years, Ray "Poco" Cedillo says he got the catch of a lifetime this past weekend while fishing miles down the Padre Island National Seashore. In his words, he was picked by a shark "that most people dream of."
It was a great hammerhead that measured at 14 feet long. Cedillo says it also weighed more than a thousand pounds.
"A greater hammerhead this size is very rare. I’ve been told by several people that this is the largest greater hammerhead caught in the state of Texas in the last, I believe, the last 30 years," Cedillo tells KRIS 6 News.
Because of the shark’s size and the way it was acting as it got closer to shore, Cedillo knew it was weak. So, he and his crew worked quickly to take just a few pictures, measure it, and trying to work her back in the water.
Then, their excitement turned to disappointment. Cedillo says after working for 45 minutes in the active surf to get the shark back into the water, it died. As he recalls, "It was always at least two feet deep while we were working on her, trying to get her to go and then we walked her out further and she just never went."
Cedillo says another wave of disappointment came after people on social media implied that he and his crew somehow caused the shark’s death. He says that’s the furthest thing from the truth.
"I can honestly say most of us have never caught a shark and purposely want to kill it, especially one this big."
In fact, he says serious shark fishers who put lots of money, time and effort into this sport are a big part of the *conservation effort, partnering with places like the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
"All we do is catch sharks, tag them, release them and it’s for research — 100 percent for research," Cedillo explains. "We shark fish so that the researchers can try to figure out ways to protect these fish and ways to study them more."
No matter how many negative comments are made about his big catch, Cedillo still takes away a positive experience knowing that he caught a shark that’s rare in Texas Gulf waters.
"For me to be able to land this size of shark off of (the) land in our waters is pretty cool. It really is."
Cedillo says there was another positive thing to come out of his catch. He and his fellow fishermen were able to harvest more than 400 pounds of meat from the shark, which was donated to the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission.