The Int'l Land-Based Shark Fishing (ILSFA's) newest world record angler is no stranger to this sport, to catching very big fish or, for that matter, setting world records. In this case, Ernie Polk has raised the bar, again, with his successful capture and release of an 11 foot, 9 inch tiger shark stretching the estimated weight formula to nearly a half-ton.
Ernie Polk prepares his new world record for tagging and release (photo from video)
As I've said in the past, Ernie is the quintessential American sportsman; an accomplished hunter and professional outdoorsman who has been blending and enjoying his own authentic mix of passion, skill and attitude for decades. I first met Ernie last year when he submitted a land-based caught mako exceeding 700 pounds as a contending world record. Ultimately, that fish was offically certified.
In the year since, Ernie has been doing the same thing he has for decades, but with a progressive twist. As Founder and President of the ILSFA, I'm proud to announce his latest angling accomplishment as not only a certified, all-tackle world record, but one for the LARGEST shark EVER caught, fully documented (including girth and fork measurements), research tagged, and most important of all ... released. My advocacy for sportsmen and women's rights to legally harvest an animal is well documented, but so is the work I do to effectively combine the goals of sport, science and conservation.
It's rewarding to see my dedication and advocacy, and that of the people I work closely with, not only catching on, but paying off, in this case -- big time. You see, Ernie's new record was accomplished during one of several 100% catch & release land-based shark tournaments that I've been personally involved with over the years. This enormous tiger shark was released in the final days of the 'Big Hammer Challenge' earlier this year, effectively sealing a first-place tournament win for Ernie Polk and his team. In many ways, it's a quick study on the history and evolution of the sport of recreational shark fishing; one I'm fortunate to be a part of.
For those of you who might not understand, and may still question the value in all this, consider the last paragraph. Just 10 years ago, most of what's mentioned there was virtually unheard of. Now, there are countless shining examples of anglers employing and promoting an ethic of 'best practices' in recreational shark fishing. In the highly specialized niche arena of land-based shark fishing, it's no different, and in many ways even more prevalent than in the more traditional boat-based fishery. I think Ernie Polk summed it up best when he recently shared this thought with me.
"I have been doing some comparing on some of the other big tigers caught. Every fish that was close to 12'9" weighed between 1200lbs and 1350. We may have let an IGFA state record go. Current is 1056. Oh well the IGFA needs to get with the program anyway. They could learn a lot by looking at the ILSFA. Cheers, Ernie Polk."
It's especially gratifying to see this recreational trend my brother Brooks and I started years ago (documenting these fish accurately and safely with measurements to estimate their size instead of weighing and killing them) has been catching on. It was one of the primary motivaters leading to our launch of the ILSFA -- the first and still the only association to officially certify world records for released sharks.
p.s. There's another ENORMOUS world record pending and under evaluation from yet another in the Polk Clan for a released shark. Everything is looking to be in order so stay tuned for an announcement about that in the very near future.
For now, on behalf of the ILSFA lead committee, its members around the world and me, Congratulations, on your new world record, Ernie, and thanks for your dedication to the sport and to shark release fishing. You're playing an important role in setting a new standard.
Founder & President - The ILSFA