Man Catches 6-Foot, 135-Pound Bull Shark In La. River

September 24, 2004

AP

SIMMESPORT, La. -- Call it the catch of the day. Seafood merchant Richard Durrett was fishing Tuesday morning on the Red River when his catfish net dredged up something a little larger than the average catfish a 6-foot, 135-pound bull shark.

"I've been fishing since I was 10 years old, and I've caught some strange fish, but nothing like this," the 35-year-old said Wednesday. "Things happen, but I wasn't ready for this."

Durrett was fishing near the Atchafalaya River for what he thought would be a normal day's haul. Instead, he took home a trophy.

"He had to come all the way up the Atchafalaya to get here," Durrett said. "It couldn't have been the hurricane, so I guess he was just on a journey to get here."

Finding a shark in the Red River is unusual, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries biologist Ricky Moses said Wednesday, but it has happened before. Moses, who specializes in inland and freshwater fish, said the LWF office in Opelousas confirmed that it has been asked to examine the shark. Bull sharks have been known to swim into fresh water areas, Moses said.


"They can't survive in that environment for a long time," Moses said, "but they can stay in fresh water for a little while."

Durrett said he has caught much smaller sharks in the past near the Morgan City area, but those were of the 30-pound variety.

"Sometimes, you'll catch stuff you don't expect. But this?" he said.

During early fall, when fresh water flows slow, saltwater wedges sometimes penetrate rivers and move saltwater species upriver, Moses said. The wedges don't come nearly as far as Simmesport, Moses said, but sometimes, a bull shark will just keep going.

There have been reports in the past of other saltwater species, like flounder and blue crab, being caught near Simmesport, Moses said. The size of the shark caught this week is impressive, Moses said.

Durrett is keeping the shark frozen at his business and has plans to gut and mount the rare catch.

"I have a 5-year-old and a 13-year-old about to be 14," he said. "It's the first time they ever saw something like this. It's going to be a good conversation piece, and it'll give people something to talk about other than the usual freshwater fish in here."