Lancashire man catches rare sawfish while fishing for sharks in Florida

Ian Atherton was left shocked at the discovery

A Lancashire man who headed to Florida in the hope of catching a shark ended up hooking something far rarer – reeling in a 13ft sawfish.

Ian Atherton with another catch

Ian Atherton, 57, had swapped the UK spring for the US when he went fishing on Saturday morning (9/4).

His half-day adventure with Fin & Fly charters saw them leave Port Canaveral and sail a few miles into the Atlantic. When they arrived at their planned fishing spot, Ian put some bluefish on the hook in a bid to attract one of the fearsome predators – and he almost immediately got a bite.

But it turns out, that was the start of an hour-long struggle, with Ian trying to reel in what he assumed was a shark. After a while, the boat’s captain realised that Ian had caught something much rarer – and was in fact battling with a sawfish.

Ian from Fleetwood, said: “I’ve fished all over the world and this is up there with the best experience I’ve ever had on a boat. We came as a family on holiday, and the kids didn’t fancy it that morning so I went out on my own.

“At first I thought it was a sting ray, but after struggling with the the thing for nearly an hour we eventually saw it’s enormous rostrum poke out the water. I wasn’t strapped in when I caught it, and there were multiple times I could have ended up in the drink!

“It was a hell of a find and one which I can add to my long list of catches. A sawfish like that trumps a shark any day – and that’s what I was thinking whilst in the bar afterwards, celebrating my catch.”

The bizarre looking animals have a rostrum – or a saw – along their very long noses, which can be up to 5ft long. Although they are also called carpenter sharks, they are really rays rather than sharks, and are thought to be harmless to humans unless they are defending themselves.

Ian first recognised the sawfish when the rostrum – looking like a hedge trimmer – came out of the water. After taking some photos, the captain managed to free the endangered fish from the hook without getting the animal out of the water, where it then swam off.

Jamie Glasner, 34, owner of Fin & Fly charters, said: “This catch is quite simply a catch of a life of time. We’ve caught two here in seventeen years of fishing, and Ian and Jon [the captain] caught it within four hours of being on the water that morning.

“It really is an incredible tale.”