Sanibel shark hunter meets Vice President Pence after catching 500-pound fish

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SANIBEL, Fla. A relaxing shark tagging lesson on the beach Wednesday near West Gulf Drive turned into an 11-hour battle with a rare fish and a visit from Vice President Mike Pence.

Conservationist Elliot Sudal auctioned off the opportunity to take a family shark hunting in a raffle drawing in March at the Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva. Sudal’s philosophy is to hook, hug, tag and release the sharks.

However, Wednesday’s catch was unlike any other.

Sudal was teaching the family about sharks when his smallest fishing rod hooked. Since the rod only had 600 yards of light line, he initially thought it was a Bull Shark. But after five hours of reeling, he realized it was a 500-pound Sawfish Shark.

“It was really exciting once I saw what it was, I knew what it was it was really cool.. it’s like the rarest thing you can catch,” Sudal said.

A crowd gathered around Sudal, including Pence.

Although he declined to reel the 13-foot fish in, Pence spent 30 minutes closely watching Sudal and taking pictures.

“Meeting the Vice President and the biggest fish ever … you just can’t go out and see that,” Sudal said.

The sawfish was reeled to shore, tagged and released.

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