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Teenager Lands 1,120-Pound Shark

June 10, 1987

HOUSTON (AP) _ A teen-age fisherman may have set a state record by snagging an 1,120-pound tiger shark he fought for two hours before reeling it in off the Galveston coast.

Larry Simmons Jr., 16, of Katy, said he didn’t realize how big the creature was until it had been brought aboard his father’s fishing boat.

″I thought it was about 700 pounds,″ he said Tuesday in a telephone interview. ″He (Simmons’ father) was kind of scared when they were pulling it up because it could have taken one of the wire men (crewmen) in.″

The record for a tiger shark is 1,010 pounds set in 1983, said Clarence Beezley, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman. He said the latest catch would have to be verified before it could be listed as a record.

Although a fisherman normally would stay in a chair secured to the boat’s deck while trying to land the shark, Simmons was on his feet the entire time.

″All we had at the time was a harness, and it didn’t work too well,″ Simmons said.

″I kept real heavy pressure on the fish, but the drag kept heating up and slipping,″ he said. ″The shark never did run that far - maybe 100 yards - but it was so strong. It stayed close but wouldn’t give up.″

Simmons’ father, Larry Sr., and crewman Ken Cox helped the youth land the shark Friday night about 30 miles off Galveston in the Gulf of Mexico. The catch earned Simmons first place in the 11th annual Shark and Sport Fishing Tournament at Galveston.

″It could have been dangerous,″ the younger Simmons said. ″It started to come alive when we shot it, and we had to shoot it again.″

The female shark was 12 feet, 2 inches long and swollen to a girth of 88 inches, Simmons said. It was carrying 52 pups, he said.

″That’s a pretty good size,″ said Roy Drinnen, curator of fishes at Sea- Arama Marine World in Galveston. He added that tiger sharks, which are among the 16 listed man-eaters, average 8-12 feet in length and 600-800 pounds.

″We knew we had a big one but couldn’t get the double line on the reel,″ Simmons’ father said. ″The shark was right under the boat. Then, when we were all looking over the port side, the fish surfaced on the starboard. I turned around and freaked - had no idea it was such a monster until right then.

″It was kind of spooky,″ he said.

The younger Simmons’ catch easily beat the 821-pound second-place shark in the tournament.

Despite his age, he is a veteran shark fighter, although he said this is the largest fish he has caught. His previous personal best was a 400-pound hammerhead shark.

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