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My story isn’t as dramatic as others and I never
lost a limb but I guess 75 stitches does count. It
was more an accident than anything else as the shark
was large and could have done a lot more damage if
it wished to.
I was visiting friends who were on holiday in Cape
Vidal (Northern KZN, South Africa). I was there to
show then some techniques and styles in dropshot
fishing from the beach and from the boat. My friend
and I were sponsored at that stage and had loads of
tackle to demonstrate.
We had been out all day on a ski boat without a
bite. The water was very dirty as there had been a
lot of rain inland and the rivers were full. We had
gone a long way out to sea and got nothing and the
fishing from the beach was not much better.
We decided to leave the light tackle and try our
luck for some big fish which might be lurcking
closer in to shore as the water was very dirty. We
also wanted to show them how to fish with heavy
tackle from the beach as they are experts from the
News had gone around the campsite that we were going
to catch sharks from the beach and by the time late
afternoon came round there was a small crowd on the
beach. I was a little nervous but we had a bite on
one of the roads with in 15min. I lost what must
have been a sandshark or ray as there were no teeth
marks on the bait, only scratch marks from the
plates in the fish’s mouth. Not long after that we
caught a Blackfin Shark of about 60kgs and another
of around 20kgs.
I was now dark and we were keen for the braai back
at the capsite and started packing up. Everyone had
gone save one guy who wanted us to cast his sinker
and slide his bait for him as he was new to the game
and had never done it before. .. so we did and
carried on packing up. As we were heading back up
the beach the man’s wife run after us and said his
real went “click”. We thought maybe the drag was a
bit loose and so we went back to go check it and
show him how tight it should be.
His rod was bending slightly and the real gave a few
more clicks... We then knew there was something
there and guessed it was a Raggie (Ragged Toothed
Shark) as this was typical of their style of biting.
My friend picked up the rod and tightened up the
drag. We gave the rod to the man to fight his fish
himself and we just told him what to do.
A raggie doesn’t fight like a Blackfin or Sandie,
its more like trying to drag a parachute through the
water. Sometimes taking a little line but mainly
swimming up and down behind the waves.
I don’t believe in gaffing sharks and so we now grab
them from the tail when they are in the shallows and
drag them a little up the beach so one can take the
hooks out and tag it quickly so that it can be
So I was about 5m in and in about a foot of water
watching where the line goes into the waves and my
friend was helping the guy with fighting the shark.
It took quite a long time but eventually I saw its
fins in the water and went behind it and grabbed its
When u do this u have to hold on tight!! I started
dragging it out the water and was nearly out in
about a half a foot when my friend shouted “WATER”
as he had spotted a wave coming in. I looked around
as the wave hit me so it caught me when I was not
expecting it. The wave wasn’t big (about a foot or
two) and knocked me over... partly because the
sharked knocked me over as well. (I was dragging the
shark from the sea towards the beach and the wave
had knocked the shark towards me and so I fell
The shark could now just about swim again and I was
now sitting in the water when suddenly I felt
something hit my leg. I felt the shark’s mouth close
on my leg and realized I was in trouble. Fortunately
it didn’t bite down as it would have taken a big
piece out of my leg if not bitten it off. I pushed
it off my leg (Cutting my thumb on one of its
teeth), stood up and ran out the water.
No one knew what happened and they continued to get
the shark out the water so they could release it. I
stood one side in the darkness and didn’t want to
look at my leg. I figured it wasn’t too bad as there
was not much pain.
While they were doing this I decided to look down
and saw my calf had a big gash in it and looked a
bit shredded. It looked a lot worse than it felt. I
called my friend over and showed him and suddenly
the people we were helping were panicking a bit.
It was quite a big shark, about 2meters from the
nose to the base of the tail (around 150kgs) and
realized I could have been a lot worse off than I
While they were releasing the shark again, one of
the national parks board game drive cars came up the
beach and I thought what luck, someone to take me
back to camp. The car pulled up to see the shark on
the beach as it was being dragged back into the
water and I went to the ranger to ask him if he
could drive me back to camp (only about 400m) He
said sorry he can’t as the guests that were with him
had paid money to see turtles!! Can u believe
So my friend and I walked back up the beach while
someone else ran back to camp to fetch a bakkie.
There was a vet in the campsite and he put some
antiseptic on my leg and I took a whole bunch of
pain killers. There was only a doc in the small town
on St Lucia and he did the stitching work. The most
painful part of the whole ordeal was at the end of
the stitching when the doc said he can no longer
give me any more local anaesthetic as I had reached
my limit so the last few stitches were done in parts
that I could feel. Anyway, it was pretty cool
watching him sew arteries closed and stitch me up.
It took a while as he did a whole bunch of internal
stitches as well... about 75 stitches in total.
I don’t blame the shark for what happened... I see
it as an accident and will continue to catch, tag
and release these beautiful animals.