Shark tale puts bite in weekend of cod fishing

He may not have needed a bigger boat, but Fred Humber has a tall tale to tell about a weekend encounter on the water.

Fred Humber makes an unexpected catch off Fortune Harbour, N.L.

Fred Humber and friends got more than they expected while fishing for cod 1:31

He may not have needed a bigger boat, but Fred Humber has a tall tale to tell about a weekend encounter on the water.

Unlike many fish stories, however, this one is true — and Humber has the video to prove it.

It was, Humber says, a "once-in-a-lifetime experience" — one that was "totally unexpected."

The Spaniard's Bay, N.L.,  man was out jigging for cod just off Fortune Harbour with his nephew Troy Humber and his nephew’s friend, Kirk Smith.

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The Newfoundland recreational fishery opened over the weekend, and the fishing was "absolutely fantastic."

It didn’t take them long to approach their quota, and the cod were big. "Not the wimpy little ones," Humber said.

Definitely not wimpy, as he would soon find out.

"I dropped the line down again," Humber recalled. "It hit bottom, and I pulled it up maybe a couple of feet. I gave it a yank, and said, ‘Gee, I’ve got bottom there, I’ve got a log or something.’"

But it wasn’t a log.

"It was a strange thing, because suddenly, this log started to move …. I haven’t felt anything like that on my jigger in my life. All of a sudden, it really got bizarre."

His first thought was that he had hooked a huge cod.

As he struggled, his nephew Troy started to poke fun, saying he was doing an awful lot of grunting and groaning, and asking if he needed help.

He did.

'The weight was unreal'

Troy grabbed the line.

"His eyes went wide open, like saucers. The weight was unreal."

After about five minutes of fighting with the fish, they saw a "monster" with a "big white belly."

They were still confused about what they had hooked.

Then up came the dorsal fin — and the teeth.

A "magnificent six-foot shark" was right there on surface of the water, thrashing about.

It was definitely not what they expected, Humber said.

They managed to maneuver the creature over against the side of the boat.

Troy got behind the shark, inserted his filleting knife and opened a slit adjacent to where hook was embedded.

"That freed the jigger," Humber said.

"Off went Mr. Shark, and we were thrilled. And I’m sure Farley Mowat would have been thrilled as well."

Initially, Humber thought it was a Great White, but federal fisheries scientists have confirmed it was a porbeagle.

Either way, it was a magnificent sight, and a magnificent experience.

"We felt really good about it. But we also were overcome with the beauty of that creature. To see [it] swim to freedom was very thrilling."