An Alabama angler who’s no stranger to state records may have broken another one last Friday when he caught a 13-foot tiger shark weighing 1,019 pounds. Brett Rutledge tamed the tiger during a 45-minute fight off Dauphin Island while fishing the opening day of the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. The catch easily topped the tiger shark category for the July 21-23 event, outweighing the runner-up by 362 pounds and taking the $6,000 first prize.
“I just used normal fishing techniques,” Rutledge told WALA News. “We went out and caught our bait yesterday, all the crew talked about where we were going and set up on it. We actually caught seven sharks this morning, and this just happened to be the biggest.”
In 2017 the Mobile resident broke the Mississippi state record for bull sharks twice on his way to winning a $20,000 prize for the species during the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. With him on the boat that day was longtime fishing partner David Rogers, who set Mississippi records for bull sharks and tiger sharks at the rodeo the year before. Rutledge’s 354-pound, 4-ounce bull shark record stood until 2021, when it was broken by—who else?—David Rogers.
According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the current state record tiger shark is a 988-pounder caught by Larry Gene Eberly near Gulf Shores way back in 1990. “I’m excited,” Rutledge told WALA. “It’s fun. If it does hold, it will be a new state record, so that’d be pretty cool.”
The Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo reintroduced sharks as a prize category last year at the request of anglers and with input from marine scientists. Anglers participating in the shark category are required to possess an Atlantic HMS (highly migratory species) permit with a specific shark endorsement.
“The benefit of harvesting sharks during the rodeo is that the specimens will be used to advance the data collection of the species,” reads a press release put out by rodeo officials. “Scientists will collect vertebrae, stomach contents, and reproductive organs to conduct tests. We have done this type of research for many species over multiple decades which has helped the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo to adjust the tournament rules year after year. The health and sustainability of the fisheries is very important to all of us.”