-- One 13-year-old from New Jersey should have no problem finding a topic for his back-to-school essay on how he spent his summer vacation.
Gianni Mandile, of Emerson, New Jersey, reeled in an estimated 200-pound shark after a nearly 30-minute battle that was coached by his dad, Joe Mandile, and viewed by hundreds of beachgoers.
Last weekend Mandile and Gianni were fishing on Long Beach Island, where the family stays for the summer, when they saw one of their fishing rods shaking.
“We thought it was some type of a stingray,” Mandile told ABC News. “Gianni set the hook and looks over at me and he said, ‘Dad, this doesn’t feel like a stingray. I feel a big head shape on the rod. I’m telling you it’s not a stingray.’”
Mandile said he still didn’t believe his son at first. Gianni started to reel the shark in and remarked, “Dad, it’s a big shark.”
It was only when the shark came toward them on the shore and thrashed around that Mandile knew that his son had caught a winner.
“I told him just to take his time,” Mandile said. “But finally I couldn’t take it anymore because I’ve seen it so many times where you’re fighting a fish like this and it pops off.”
Mandile helped Gianni, who has been fishing since the age of 3, by going into the water and helping to pull the shark in.
The father and soon took a quick photo with the shark and then released it back into the water. They were not able to measure the shark but estimated it weighed more than 200 pounds and was between 5 and 7 feet long.
Both believe it was a sand tiger shark, a different breed than the brown sharks that are sometimes caught in the area.
Mandile said he was more excited about Gianni’s accomplishment than Gianni himself, whom he described as “always calm, cool and collected.”
“When you’re fishing you always want to catch the biggest fish so this is a big accomplishment,” Mandile said. “It was a proud moment.”