“You’re gonna need a bigger boat…” – Chief Brody, JAWS
Joel Abrahamsson was having similar thoughts as he hooked into an enormous Greenland shark just off the Norwegian coast Monday, perched not on a fishing boat or other hearty vessel, but a kayak.
But unlike the two women who were recently, and involuntarily, attacked by a great white shark while kayaking off the coast of Massachusetts, Abrahamsons was actually seeking a reckoning with the Greenland shark, and though the Greenland variety doesn’t have the notorious reputation of the great white, it is a proven meat eater.
Kayak Fish reports that Joel Abrahamsson lit out on his Greenland shark-kayak -fishing-expedition with a specific goal in mind: Not just to beat, but utterly destroy the previous record catch from a kayak, set by Howard McKim, Christopher Mautino, Allen Sansano, and Allen Bushnell, when the group pulled in some 300-to 500-pound salmon sharks in Alaska in 2008.
Abrahamsson parked his kayak less than a mile off Norway’s Andorja Island, floating in 1,600 feet of deep blue sea, with hopes that one of the mysterious Greenland sharks, which generally weigh between 1000 and 2000 pounds, was lurking below.
“There are only about 10 to 15 Greenland sharks caught every year in all of Scandinavia so it is a rare species,” said Abrahamsson. Commercial fishermen are not allowed to pursue the Greenland shark, and recreational anglers can only use rod and reel to capture the fish.
Accompanying Abrahamsson was a support team of marine scientists, and a camera crew to document the event if Abrahamsson was to actually catch a Greenland shark
Abrahamsson then set his line to yield a 50 pound drag, strapped into a harness on his kayak, and dropped his rig into the dark abyss.
“Dropping the bait took about 25 minutes to avoid tangles,” said Abrahamsson. “It took 20 minutes to wind the rig up to check if there was any bait left and had to be done every two to three hours.”
Using 8-pound coalfish baits, Abrahamsson got some false start hits before a Greenland shark took it all and was hooked.
“The fight was just gruesome and extremely heavy,” said Abrahamsson. “A few times it got a bit gnarly. I was scared of going over,”
Abrahamsson called his fight with the Greenland shark one of the strangest he’d ever experienced.
“The fish is not a spectacular fighter but constantly tugs its head down and pulls slowly,” he said. “I put the reel in low gear and just ground the fish upwards. Greenlanders are known for rolling up the leader. As the line coils off their body during the fight it creates slack that you must reel in before it has time to turn.”
It took ninety minutes, but Joel Abrahamsson was able to finally get the shark to the surface where the science crew took over, reports GrindTV, laying the Greenland shark alongside the boat and measuring it at 401 centimeters and an estimated 1247 pounds. Also estimated to be over 200 years old, the shark was then released.
“We had a time limit of under five minutes to get it back unharmed,” explained Abrahamsson. “I was not allowed to handle it or secure it to my kayak.”
So with a world record under his belt, what next for the Norwegian sportsman?
“My next dream is to catch a 225-pound Atlantic halibut,” he said. Presumably from a kayak.
Images via Facebook, Cozmiq, SVT, and Life of Sea