Longtime fishing buddies David Rice and Matt Antos jumped on their jet skis Thursday and headed into the ocean waters off eastern Fire Island.
The two were fishing for striped bass, but ended up hooking a hammerhead shark.
They even caught a pretty clean video of the shark as well (above).
“I’ve never seen a hammerhead out in the wild; neither has Matt,” said Rice, the owner of Rice Realty Group Inc. in Bellport. “And I’ve been shark fishing a lot. Seeing that type of shark was very cool, though. It’s just a different, really interesting-looking shark.
“And we were close. We could have literally reached down and petted it if we wanted.”
Rice, of Bellport, and Antos, who lives in Brookhaven, were about two miles from land about noon — but weren’t right next to each other — when Antos alerted Rice to head back over quickly.
When Rice came back, he saw Antos had thrown out a dead bunker fish, trying to entice the scalloped hammerhead.
“The shark was staying around but he wasn’t interested,” Rice said.
After several minutes, they chopped up a bluefish and got some blood running in the water.
“The shark was subdued the whole time, but once we put that in the water it started to get super excited,” Rice said. “He was kind of all over us, doing swirls, going down and coming back up.”
Eventually the hammerhead took the bait, but snapped Rice’s line about four or five minutes later.
Either way, he said there was never any intention to do anything but release the hammerhead.
“I would have taken some cool pictures of it, but I’m not messing around with a shark on a jet ski,” Rice laughed. “There’s no reason for it at all. We had a good time and it’s a cool story.”
He said the shark hung around the jet skis for about an hour, likely targeting the same bunker fish the fishermen were chasing in hopes of reeling in some striped bass.
This is the second time in two months anglers off Fire Island reported being greeted by a scalloped hammerhead.
In July, a charter boat captain and a group of fisherman came across one on Fire Island Reef: