Local Cousins Go Viral With Possible World Record Mako Catch

mako shark pic
Local Cousins Go Viral With Possible World Record Mako Catch
By: Kelly Woodard

Milton cousins Earnie and Joey Polk set out for a promising night of fishing on local beaches last week, but never expected to become viral sensations when they hooked into an 805 pound mako shark that is suspected to be a new world record.
The two had intended to keep the potentially controversial catch under wraps, but when they stopped for gas with the massive fish strapped to the bed of their truck it’s no shock that they drew some attention. Passerby West Calhoun snapped a photo which set social media ablaze and was soon picked up by a local paper. Within hours, word of the Polk’s catch had gone viral.
The Polk’s say that the mako that weighed 805 pounds and measured 11 feet long was caught after they used a kayak to drop bait about 300 yards from shore. Once the monster was hooked, it took over an hour to haul the giant predator onto the sand. But not everyone thinks the shark should have been killed.
Pensacola Beach resident, Farrah Johnson said, “These creatures are such an important part of our ecosystem. Taking them out of our waters can potentially throw things off balance.” Gulf Breeze resident, Jeremy Hillson agreed saying, “Although I’m glad that this shark won’t be prowling where I’m swimming anymore, it’s a shame that these guys didn’t release it. It didn’t have to die.”
The Polk’s say that in the past two years, they have worked closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to tag almost all of their 300 catches for release. “Out of those catches, we have released all but about 20, including this guy,” Earnie Polk said. “That’s probably the best fish we ever caught.”
That’s really saying something for this duo. Earnie Polk already holds the current world record for a mako with the International Land-Based Shark Fishing Association. He and Joey worked together to take that 684-pound female shortfin in 2009 on Navarre Beach. Overall the pair holds a combined three world records from ILSFA.
The two went on to say that the decided against releasing the fish due to its fatigued condition once on the shore. “It wasn’t doing too well by the time we reeled him in, and we made the decision to take it rather than let it die a slow death,” Earnie Polk said. Joey Polk added, “We generally only keep what won’t swim off.”
The Polk’s say that they won’t be wasting any of the fish either. “We plan on giving about 600 pounds of it away to our family and friends.” Whatever is left will go to local consumers. “It's a $10-per-pound fish at the fish market. It will sell right along with tuna and swordfish. Between all of us, there won't be a bit wasted,” Joey Polk said. “We respect these animals, and hope people understand that we take their lives very seriously.”
For now, the cousins are basking in their unintentional fame saying, “We never intended on being approached by the national media, but it does feel good to be recognized as great anglers.”