Downey reels down on hammerhead

Tina Harbuck

They were on a mission, and by end of day, it was mission accomplished for the crew aboard the charter boat Fifth Amendment.

Capt. Ben O’Connor and his group of Tennessee anglers on the Fifth Amendment hauled in a 217.4-pound hammerhead shark on Friday and managed to take over first place in the Charter Boat Division of the 67th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.

“We were trying to catch one today,” O’Connor said. Capt. O’Connor won the Charter Boat Division shark category last year with a 215-pounder.

The group were fishing out near the Southwest Edge when, Drew Downey of Maryville, Tenn. hooked into a whopper of a shark. Using a butterfly bonito for bait on a 10/0 hook with 200-pound test line, the shark put up quite the fight.

“My left arm is killing me,” Downey said from struggling with the shark for almost an hour.

“I’d get it in, and then it would go down, and take out line on me,” Downey said.

“We had him to the boat early, but then he ran for about another 45 minutes,” captain said. But the running was good, because it wore the fish down, he added.

But in the meantime it ran Downey down as well.

“That’s way bigger than anything I’ve ever caught,” he said as Rodeo weighmaster Bruce Cheves weighed it in. He said before the shark, that measured 8-feet 9-inches long, was about a 16-pound carp.

Downey said it was a good time, but “I liked it after we got it in,” he said.