Jeff Fangman had just moved to Southern California when he got the idea to take his wife and daughter down to the beach for a little fishing.
He cast in his line and waited on the shoreline at Camp Pendleton.
It wasn’t long before the U.S. Marine realized that something otherworldly must be on the other end.
"The line just started rolling off the reel," Fangman told 10News in San Diego.
After 25-minute of reeling, pulling and sweating, Fangman landed a 9-foot, 6-inch great white shark, a monster of a catch even in the Gulf Coast where the Marine had become accustomed to shark fishing.
"Bull sharks, tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, lemon sharks," Fangman said, clicking off his catch list for the San Diego TV station
"Lo and behold, it ended up being a great white," Fangman said.
Great whites are illegal for fisherman to target, so Fangman got a few seconds of video and dragged the shark into deeper water and then put his hands on his head as he watched the shark swim away.
"Seeing it in the water was just ... it was almost mind blowing," he said.
Chris Lowe, professor at Cal State Long Beach and organizer of the school's Shark Lab, told the newspaper that Fangman reached out to him after the catch, sending photos to ensure the shark was a great white.
“That area around San Onofre is one of the hotspots for juvenile great white sharks in Southern California,” Lowe told the Register. He estimated the shark was about 3 years old.
Though there have been efforts recently to place the great whites under endangered species protection, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded last summer that the shark was not in danger of extinction.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife, however, is now conducting its own study on the status of the sharks.
Months later, Fangman said he is still re-living the catch.
"Just still kind of elated about the moment," he said.
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