12-Year-Old Boy Catches Great White Off South Florida Coast

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

It took the child 45 minutes to reel the big fish in to the boat

A Massachusetts boy and his family enjoying a fishing trip in South Florida caught a much bigger and toothier fish than any of them expected.

With a bit of help, Campbell Keenan, 12, reeled in a 10-foot-long great white shark.  

According to nbcmiami.com, the Keenan family and some friends were enjoying a day of sport fishing about a mile off the coast of Port Everglades with Fishing Headquarters and Captain Paul Paolucci.

"We knew it was something substantial because it pulled really good," said Paolucci. "It took a lot of line on the biggest rod we got."

At the time, they were mostly catching bait fish — until one of their lines took off.

"Then all of a sudden, it went down a lot," said Campbell. "It just ran, darted. It went about 300 yards."

While everyone on board knew he had a big fish on the line, it wasn’t until 45 minutes later, when he managed to reel it up close enough to the boat, that they could see the great white.

"It was pretty chaotic," said Colleen Keenan, Campbell’s mom. "They threw Campbell in the seat, put the reel between his legs, hooked him to the reel, but he wasn't hooked to anything. So, my friend and I had to take turns holding on to Campbell to make sure he didn't fly out of the boat."

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Campbell managed to reel the shark to within about five feet of the boat.

"We actually tagged it and they named it. It's like adopting a fish," said Paolucci. "Then they released it back into the water."

They named it "Jan Jan" as part of an inside joke with Campbell's sister's hockey coach, who was also on the boat.

Captain Paolucci said hooking a great white in the warm waters off Florida’s coast is rare. He said he’s only caught three in the last 20 years, and his first mate, David, has never caught one in the 15 years he’s been doing this.

Campbell, who’s back home in New England with his family, says his hands are a bit sore from the long battle with the shark, but it’s all worth it because he’s got quite the story to share with his friends back home.

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