From Samantha Grillo @_samanthagrillo
Duration: 24:01 Minutes
Distributor: Barcroft Media
The practice, which has been condemned by animal rights groups, will be featured in a brand new Barcroft Original Documentary 'Landing Sharks.'
Team True Blue, which features Earnie Polk, 43, his cousins Joey Polk, 29, Kenny Peterson, 21 and friend William Smith, 21, attempt to break their own world records by reeling in the giant sea beasts from the shore.
The team often spend up to seven days a week trying to catch gigantic tiger and mako sharks from the shores of Florida, USA and claim that the practice helps with shark conservation.
But animal rights activists claim the sport is cruel and leads to suffering and often death for the sharks.
Last summer Barcroft followed the team on an epic two-day excursion to a secret location where they attempted to land, tag and release sharks.
Earnie, who is a third generation shark fisherman, said: “My grandfather once fished the same piers I fish.
“My first fish that I caught - it was an adrenaline rush. Once I hooked that fish I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
True Blue’s members hold world records for their catches - including the land based world record mako shark that weighed more than 800lbs.
The team catch the sharks by baiting their hooks with stingrays or other fish and taking a boat out to sea to drop the lines and lure the sharks in.
Once the fishermen have a bite they wrestle frantically from the shore to land the sharks so they can be tagged and released.
Earnie said: "It’s something that’s in your soul, it’s like an addiction.
“When we catch a fish it’s a group fish - it isn’t one person, it’s a team.”
But while shark fishing may be a way of life for Earnie - the practice has been blasted by animal rights groups.
Ashley Byrne, a PETA campaign specialist, said: “Shark fishing is extremely cruel and completely unnecessary whether they are being caught from a boat or land.
“The sharks suffer immensely when they’re caught for sport.
“Most sharks caught in catch and release fishing, if they don’t die immediately from exhaustion, will succumb to their injuries in days.”
However, team True Blue stands by their fishing methods and claim they are helping scientists study the species.
Earnie said” “We tagged and released over 300 sharks last year off the beaches and piers.”
Will said: “When another fisherman catches that fish they’ll remove the tag, report it to the National Marine Fisheries Wildlife and send messages and paperwork regarding how far it travelled and how much it’s grown.”
The first day of True Blue’s summer expedition proved unsuccessful after the team spent thirteen hours trying to land a big fish.
Earnie said: “Some days we pull six sharks out and sometimes we go a month without getting a bite. We keep on trying and press on.”
When night fell, Earnie and Kenny set out in a kayak in the darkness to catch the next day’s bait.
Their second day looked grim as well as the weather turned and the team were forced to take cover.
After a day and a half at the beach they caught nothing.
But once the storm passed, the youngest member of the team, Will, put himself in the center of the action.
After putting up a fight he successfully reeled in a 12ft 5in tiger shark.
Fighting back tears, Will described his experience as an emotional one.
He said: “It’s almost a spiritual thing - there’s nothing better in the world than reeling in these sharks.”
“I was finally able to land the best shark of my life and I’m glad my team were with me.”
The shark was tagged and released.