Shark takes angler for a ride


Sharkathon struggle earns Corpus Christi man title

By David Sikes

Shawncy Perez of Corpus Christi caught the shark of a lifetime at

September’s Sharkathon at Padre Island National Seashore.

The 83-inch female bull shark, although not the largest shark he’s

ever taken, was enough for first place at the catch, release and photograph

event, along with $4,200 in cash, a kayak, rod and reel.

“We were on our third and last move of the trip,” Perez said. “We set

up at a hole that my friend Chris Romo and I had scouted a few weeks

earlier. We had put out a rig with a 6-inch whiting and were tying baits in

the shade when I saw one of the rods bounce twice. I jumped on the tower

on the Yukon (a fish-fighting platform built by Perez for shark angling)

and reeled in the slack.” The fight was on. “His first run was

about 150 yards,” Perez said. “Then I started to make up some ground but it

was no use, the second run was 500 yards.”

After a third run, the giant got to the back side of the sand bar, but took

off and headed south down the beach. Perez decided to make the

fighting tower mobile to get the fish in more quickly and ensure a healthy

release. “I yelled at Chris to get in the truck, and he put the Yukon in

reverse and we followed the fish down the beach.”

But the fish still had more left. “I thought the fish was about done so I

let my guard down a little,” he said. “He made one more run that about

pulled me off the tower, I had to grab the rod rack and hold on.”

Once the fish reached the beach, the fight continued. His friend Chris

Massey roped the tail of the shark and Perez tried to sit on it while the hook

was removed. “She tossed me right off the first time,” he said.

After the stainless 12/0 J-hook was easily removed, they dragged the bull

into the deep wade gut. “She took off like nothing ever happened,” Perez said.


During its brief history, the Sharkathon surf-fishing tournament

has earned a reputation as a conservation event that has improved the

image of an often-misunderstood segment of angling culture.



Shawncy Perez fights his

shark on his homemade

fighting tower while Chris

Massey follows the fish

down the beach. The 83-

inch bull shark earned

Perez first place at the

Sharkathon. Photos by Chris

and Arthur Romo.



It seems to be working for this live-release contest. Before this year’s

Sharkathon in September, folks at Padre Island National Seashore,

which hosts the annual event, had nothing but praise for the contest and

its organizers. “Oh yes, we like them here,” said a

smiling PINS ranger Sharon Mason, who tended the National Seashore

entrance during Day 1 of the tournament. “They have a wonderful image,

and they’re very well respected.” Each year, Sharkathon has given

back by donating $1,000 toward a reward program that encourages park

visitors to report poaching and other rule violations within the National



Tournament organizers have attracted an impressive number of

Sharkathon faithful during its brief history. In its first year, the 2004 event

attracted about 50 contestants. For the 2007 contest in September, 370

anglers registered in categories that included sharks, redfish, trout and

tarpon. They also have a kids division. This concept was born on the

beach, as most might expect. During an evening about five years ago,

Sharkathon board member Pat Jordan of Eagle Lake said several

future founders sat around their Padre Island campsite after a day of surf fishing.

A conversation about dead sharks, sustainable fisheries and maintaining

their way of life evolved into a planning session for what would become a

non-profit conservation movement. They hammered out the tournament’s

framework that night. While tournament rules do not forbid

killing a fish, they expressly prohibit entering a fish that has not been successfully

released alive and swimming. And there are no live wells. If you’d like

to keep a few fillets, it’s OK. But the rules clearly state

Sharkathon is a catch, photograph and release contest. They encourage

the use of circle hooks to boost the chances of survival and anyone

caught or reported wasting game is disqualified.

Each contestant is provided an official ruler and a log sheet to record the

size and species of their catches for research purposes. Contestants are

responsible for their own digital cameras. The rules are carefully crafted to

prohibit the use of motorboats or personal watercraft either as a fishing

vessel or as a means of carrying baits. Surfboards, paddle-craft, swimming

or casting would all be acceptable means of transporting baits into the Gulf.

All fish must be caught from the beach.

Jordan said he’d like Sharkathon’s image to include this message: play

hard; kill only what you eat; pack out at least as much as you bring in; and

leave a legacy that honors the resource.

Conservation comes in many forms and can be found in some

unlikely places.



Entries — 370 contestants

Total Awards — $18,000-plus and

about $10,000 in kayaks, rods, reels,


Shark Division

1st — Shawncy Perez – 83 inches

2nd — Brandon Sellers – 79 inches

3rd — Chris Talbert – 67 inches

Redfish Division

1st — Dennis George — 30.5 inches

2nd — Blayne Mozisek — 30 inches

3rd — Scott Nelson — 29 inches

Trout Division

1st — J.C. Norris — 23 inches

2nd — Eric Ozolins — 22 inches

3rd — Steve Welp — 21 inches

Kids Division

1st — Dustin Hickey

2nd — Edward Davidson

3rd — Jacob Renck