Ancaster's Fab Marchese has an epic fishing tale to cherish for the rest of his life. Last week, during a fishing trip in Florida, the 46-year-old landed the biggest catch of his fishing career: a Great White shark.
He didn't go out with Go Fast Fishing Charter looking for sharks. Instead, he'd paid $1,200 to the charter company to help him and three friends, also from Hamilton, land Goliath Grouper and Amber Jacks in the Gulf of Mexico.
"Things were quiet," Marchese told CBC Hamilton by phone from Go Fast near St. Petersburg, Fla., describing the fishing that afternoon.
"Then Captain Joe saw a big dark spot of in the distance."
The fishermen baited a reel with bonita and dropped it in the water.
"Five minutes later the [shark] grabbed it and the fight was on," says Marchese.
The shark was about 18 feet long and estimated to weight between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds.
"The head alone was probably four feet wide, maybe more."
Marchese admits he was awestruck by the very sight of the shark. "I'd only seen a Great White on TV!"
Marchese, who simply wanted to get the shark close enough to the boat so they could photograph it, struggled with the fish for more than three hours. During the struggle, Marchese says the powerful fish pulled the boat nearly four miles off course.
Once the shark was close enough to the boat, the fishermen cut the line, releasing the fish.
The wrestling match took its toll on the lifelong fisherman.
"I was pretty damn sore. My hands were cramped up and my stomach muscles were sore," he said.
Marchese describes the encounter of the highlight of his fishing career. Previously the biggest fish he'd ever reeled in was a Goliath Grouper, which can weigh up to 350 pounds.
But the moment was bittersweet, too.
"At one point it was emotional for me," says Marchese, adding that this year was the first year he wasn't joined on his annual Florida fishing trip by his father and his brother-in-law. Both men passed away in the past few months.
Marchese is set to return home on Saturday.