Chris King of Los Molinos was fishing with John McGhee, owner of Legal Limit Sportfishing out of Berkeley, when he landed a pending new world record 342 lb. sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus) in San Francisco Bay on July 2, 2017.
That fish would eclipse the 308 lb. current world record and the previous state record if 276 pounds set by Cliff Brewer in Humboldt Bay on October 17, 1996.
King hooked the shark while fishing a salmon head in San Francisco Bay at 110 feet deep. He was using a 908 Black Diamond Phenix rod with a Boss Dauntless 400 reel with 65 lb. test XTREMEBRAID.
“It was a group of buddies that were on the trip,” said McGhee. “On that same trip, we also landed four limits of leopard sharks, along with keeping four other sixgills. We also lost two big sharks.”
They were fishing the South San Francisco Bay at 50 feet deep when the pending record fish hit. They hooked leopard sharks averaging 40 to 50 inches while using salmon and squid. “The big fish took 25 minutes to get in,” McGhee said
After landing the shark, they had a hard time finding a certified scale that big. “We had to take it to the Recycle Zone to weigh it,” said McGhee. “We also took it to the CDFW and are now filling out the paperwork to get it designated as a state and IGFA record.”
The fish featured a 55 inch girth and length of 113 inches. “On a previous trip, we lost four fish and landed one sevengill over 300 pounds, but that big fish wasn’t quite as fat as this one,” he stated. On that trip, they also landed limits of leopard sharks.
McGhee fishes for shark and halibut in the bay, as well as going out for king salmon and albacore tuna. He also anchor fishes for sturgeon in Suisun Bay from October through April.
There was a big commercial fishery for sevengills back in the 1930s and 1940s in San Francisco Bay and the ocean outside of the Golden Gate. In fact, the Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto in Berkeley became legendary for its delicious fish and chips, since the sevengills provided the meat for these meals. In fact, you can now see photos of the Spengers’ shark catches gracing the walls of the restaurant.
After the commercial fishery declined, recreational fishing of the shark became popular in the 1980s and 1990s. To prevent the overfishing of the species, United Anglers of California 25 years ago pressured the California Fish and Game Commission to adopt a one fish bag limit for sevengill and sixgill sharks, as well as a three fish bag limit and 36 inch minimum size limit for leopard sharks.
The current regulations for sevengill and sixgill sharks allow take of one fish per day with no size limit, but many anglers release many of the larger sharks they land.
The sevengill has a wide range throughout the globe. It has been found in the western Pacific Ocean off China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the eastern Pacific Ocean off Canada, United States and Chile, and the southern Atlantic Ocean off Argentina and South Africa. In San Francisco Bay, the larger fish are found in deep water, particularly near the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island,
Litte is known about 7-gill shark movements or migrations, although tag and release studies have suggested a seasonal pattern residency, according to the Santa-Cruz based Pelagic Shark Foundation.
“In 1990 the Monterey Bay Aquarium captured an 11′ ft long 7-gill shark in Humboldt bay and transported it to the aquarium in Monterey, some 350 miles south of Humboldt,” the foundation reported. “ The shark was the aquarium’s star attraction until 1994 when the shark was released near the aquarium in Monterey. The shark had been tagged with a Pelagic Shark Research Foundation tag and tracked for several hours aboard Pelagic I .”
In late 1996 the shark was recaptured in Humboldt Bay very near where it had been previously captured in 1990. “This may indicate a strong association with a ‘home range’ or primary set of seasonal way points,” the foundation stated.
Large, old individuals tend to live in deep offshore environments as far down as 446 feet. However, most sevengills live in either the deep channels of bays, or in the shallower waters of continental shelves and estuaries. These sharks are mainly benthic in nature, cruising along the sea floor and making an occasional foray to the surface, noted Wikipedia.
Sevengill sharks have a wide selection of prey items and hunt and scavenge at will. Sevengillls eat other sharks and rays, black cod, hake, squid, octopus, and dead whales. “There are also reports of large sevengills attacking harbor seals in Alaska,” the foundation stated. http://www.pelagic.org/montereybay/benthic/7gillshark.html