Honeymooners catch giant tiger shark on Navarre Beach

Published: Jun. 30, 2023 at 6:48 PM CDT
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Pensacola, Fla. (WALA) - When you think of the perfect honeymoon, a trip overseas or Hawaii may come to mind. But for one adventurous Maryland couple, a night of shark fishing on Navarre Beach was more what they were looking for and it was a honeymoon they’ll never forget.

Will and Ashton Weber pose, holding the tail of their estimated 800 lb. / 12-foot tiger shark...
Will and Ashton Weber pose, holding the tail of their estimated 800 lb. / 12-foot tiger shark prior to releasing it(Coastal Worldwide / Dylan Wier)

It was Wednesday, June 28, 2023 just before dark. Dylan Wier and business partner Blaine Kenny of Coastal Worldwide had just set up with their clients for a night of shark fishing on Navarre Beach when something big took the bait on their PENN 130. Little did they know at the time, the same fish had also eaten another bait further out. When the second rod, an Avet 80 Narrow also began to peel off drag, they thought they’d hooked a second fish.

“It was at the bar. Maybe just past it. Maybe sixty yards away and it came up and just threw a bunch of water with her tail,” Wier recalled. That’s a really common sign of tiger sharks. They’ll come to the surface and just start throwing water and when Blaine said, ‘No. That was my fish,’ and I said, ‘No. I think that was his,’ and then Baine said, ‘We, maybe we got the same fish.’”

As the shark came closer to shore, Will and Ashton Weber couldn’t believe what was happening. The couple had just exchanged wedding vows the prior Sunday and made the 1,400-mile drive from Maryland, seeking an adventurous Florida honeymoon. Thanks to the guys at Coastal Worldwide, they now had an estimated 800-pounds of adventure at the end of their lines.

“It was crazy. She definitely put on a show for us,” Ashton said.

“When that fish got close enough where I could drop the harness you know and drop the rod and really get in there with it, man, I was just blown away,” Will added. “I was just completely…I was in shock at the size of this fish. It was unbelievable how big this fish really was.”

Tiger sharks are a protected species and it’s important to get the fish released quickly and in good health. Because of this, the shark is kept in the water and no time is taken to measure or pose for many pictures.

“You can get really solid pictures when we are handing the hook side if you’re back there near the tail and you’re holding the tail up and someone else is on the beach just snapping pictures,” Kenny explained. “Those pictures can come out really good sometimes but with a shark that big, it’s so chaotic and we’re just trying to keep that shark’s health in mind and we’re trying to get that thing out as quick as possible.”

The pictures did come out good and the honeymoon memories, even better. As a token of the catch, Will and Ashton each got to keep the circle hooks that caught the fish. It’s a tradition when you get one over 10 feet and Wier estimated this one at 12 feet. Their honeymoon, their tiger shark and their love for one another, bonded through two pieces of steel.

“On our first time ever. We got both of them. We managed to catch it and be able to keep both, so it makes a heart. It’s like the perfect little thing,” Ashton said as the couple held their hooks back-to-back forming a heart shape.

If you’re wondering how the Webers plan to top that adventure, well, it will be hard but that’s not stopping them from trying. Two days later, they went out on a deep drop fishing trip to try and catch their first Gulf of Mexico swordfish.