PANAMA CITY BEACH — Two things in life are certain, death and taxes. And J.D. Prine saw both this weekend.
For five minutes, Rodney Ball had been fighting what felt like the biggest fish of his life before the line suddenly went slack on Saturday.
“All we had was dead weight,” said J.D. Prine, the captain of the fishing vessel Predator, a 30' Gamefish made by Sea Hunt. “I knew then all we had was ‘a head.’”
Sure enough, a large shark has eaten the bottom half of the fish, leaving behind a photo op and little else. Commenters on the Panama City Fishing Facebook group joked that the "tax man" aka the shark, had taken his dues. Luckily, there were other fish in the sea and other big red snapper to be caught.
But then, as if to prove that lightning does strike twice, Prine found himself in an eerily similar situation the following day, but this time it was a grouper a shark took a giant hunk out of.
“I hate sharks,” Prine said, exasperated.
Not just off shore
All week people have been reeling in big hammerhead sharks off Panama City Beach.
On Wednesday, the guys at Off the Beach Shark Fishing Trip brought in a 13-foot hammerhead, which guide Matt Pemberton called the “fish of a lifetime.”
Then on Sunday, before they even had enough time to get two lines in the water, they had hooked another big hammer.
“Got the first pole kayaked out about 400 yards and before the kayaker could get back to the beach to take the 2nd rod out. The first one went screaming,” Pemberton said. “It took around 200 yards off with the first run it made. Got the fish turned and we started to gain some line back … Hammerheads are known for their hard and long runs when caught.”
It took about 40 minutes to bring the shark in, he said.
Both sharks were safely released, as hammerheads are a protected species. And Off the Beach isn’t the only one catching hammerheads lately. Last weekend, hammerheads were caught at both the Mexico Beach Fishing Pier and a different hammerhead was caught off Panama City Beach. Drone footage of the one caught at PCB became national news.
Just one mile out from the pass, Bob Klein caught himself a 52 pound king mackerel while fishing off his boat “Hello Baby.” The fish was so large Jim Hayton had to assist with the landing.