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August 20, 2013

Charter lands 609-pound shark off Cape Ann

Thresher shark falls barely light of state record

NEWBURYPORT — The North Shore had its own version “Shark Week” this past weekend, when fisherman Bob Cloutier landed a monster off the Cape Ann coast that checked in just a few pounds shy of the state’s all-time record for thresher sharks.

On Saturday afternoon, a Newburyport-based charter boat was about 60 miles off shore, beyond Jeffreys Ledge, when Cloutier said his nephew Zach Cloutier hooked a fish that instantly caught their attention.

“The fish took a lot of line, so I knew it was something out of the ordinary,” said Bob Cloutier.

It was indeed something that isn’t normally seen in these parts — a 609-pound thresher shark that the crew landed on the Newburyport waterfront.

In the world of sharks, it’s an unusual creature — it has an extra-long extension on its upper tail that is nearly as long as its body. It uses it to slap the surface of the water to herd its prey.

It also has an extraordinary behavior that the Cloutiers witnessed several times — thresher sharks leap out of the water, sometimes several feet in the air. It’s a sight that is stunning and frightening even to the saltiest of ocean fishermen.

“We saw it jump a few times. It gave a heck of a show,” said Bob Cloutier, of Dracut.

For the next two and a half hours, Zach battled hard to get the fish to the boat. When it finally reached the boat, Bob Cloutier said he had new problem to deal with: how to get it aboard. Even with four grown men aboard, the task was impossible. The crew considered tying the shark to the side of the boat, but it would have taken many hours to slowly pull it into Newburyport.

A radio call brought another fisherman to their aid, and with the help of his block and tackle gear the shark was hauled aboard the 30-foot-long Sailfish center console boat.

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