Most of the old time guys on the southern piers would use whole rays rigged for huge tiger sharks . Rays and skates make up a big part of various shark diets :
At the conclusion of Mondayâ€™s post, Walter Maxwell and his fishing companions watched in disbelief as a monster tiger shark swam off with their homemade gaff. The shark came away the victor after an hour-long battle at the Cherry Grove, South Carolina pier. Down but not deterred, the trio spent the rest of that day and the entire evening fishing from the pier.
At daybreak on Sunday, June 14th, 1964 the anglers caught several skates â€“ small rays â€“ and rigged them on large hooks. Using a row boat, one of Maxwellâ€™s companions took the skates a considerable distance from the pier and dropped them over the side. The only action early on came from smaller sharks which persisted in picking up the baits and running for a short distance before dropping them. Eventually a group of larger sharks moved into the area, one of which inhaled a skate, ran with it a short distance before cutting through the line. Not long afterward, while watching one of his friends fight a rather large shark, another fish took Maxwellâ€™s bait. The fish was about thirty yards from the end of the pier when it jumped clear of the water. The noise made by the gargantuan fish as it landed back on the surface startled the anglers as well as the spectators that had gathered. As this was taking place, the aforementioned school of large sharks began inhaling the other baits. This resulted in more chaos â€“ and broken lines.
During all the fuss and ado, Walter Maxwellâ€™s line was sizzling once again, and he jammed the butt of his fishing rod into the belly plate of his shoulder harness. Tightening the drag, he was instantly pulled against the pier railing and knocked off his feet. Struggling to stand, Maxwell had all he could do to control his fishing rod as it bucked and lurched. Moments later onlookers gasped as the shark once again breached the surface, this time 500 feet from the pier.
The shark then began a line-sizzling run to the northeast, in the process nearly stripping all 1400 yards of 130 lb. test line from Maxwellâ€™s reel. At this point his friends began pouring water onto the scorching reel. The giant shark was nearly Â¾ of a mile from the pier before Maxwell was able to finally halt its run. The reprieve was momentary, however, as the shark began another powerful run, this time heading southeast. To everyoneâ€™s relief, with but a few yards of line left on the spool, rather than swim out to sea, the fish began swimming parallel to the beach.
As the fight neared the five hour mark, Maxwell brought the leviathan alongside the pier. By this time it was after 6 p.m. It wasnâ€™t until the next morning when the shark was weighed on government certified scales. With overnight temperatures in the 80â€™s, it was estimated the shark lost 10% of its body weight due to dehydration. Nonetheless, it still pushed the scales to the 1780 lbs. mark.
Eleven years after Maxwell brought his big â€œtigerâ€ alongside the pier, big sharks hit the silver screen. In the years immediately after Steven Spielbergâ€™s epic â€œJawsâ€, shark mania was at an all time high. Even today shark fishing became the rage on many fronts, with weekend shark tournaments being held up and down both coasts. From Marthaâ€™s Vineyard to Miami, from Port Hueneme to San Diego, teams of shark hunters head offshore in search of monster fish.
Despite the influx of shark fishermen and their state-of-the-art equipment, Walter Maxwellâ€™s tiger shark remains the all-tackle world record for the species. His record catch came long before the shark gained such widespread notoriety. And he wasnâ€™t fishing for a record. Nor was he looking to pad his wallet - he and his buddies went down to the Cherry Grove Pier just to fish on their day off.