8-foot bull sharks bagged in Potomac River after bypassing James

Posted at 7:03 PM, Aug 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-22 19:03:05-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)—Two bull sharks were caught in the Potomac River, and it wouldn’t be the first time a shark was caught in a Virginia river.

He is a fixture along the banks of the James River, and "Catfish TC", as he is known, is quite content on solid ground,  thank you very much.

"I wouldn't want to get caught in the water with one. That is for sure," says "TC". "They are scary. Bull sharks! They're eight foot long!"

"TC" likes dry ground after hearing about a fellow fisherman bagging two eight-foot bull sharks weighing more than 200 pounds each in the Potomac River this week.

Marine biologists guess the sharks travelled away from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and bypassed the mouth of the James while swimming all the way up to the Potomac.  It’s a tale of the two that didn’t get away.

Gary Martel with Game and Inland Fisheries isn't surprised that two predators were caught in the waters off Maryland. Gary says bull sharks are no strangers to Virginia waters.

In fact, a bull shark was documented swimming in the Pamunkey River a few years ago.

"They have a very impressive set of dental work," says Martel. "It's uncommon but it's not terribly rare.”

He added that they will go far up a river, but “just how far it is hard to say."

Considered one of the most aggressive sharks in the water scientists say the bull shark can adapt to fresh water pretty easily so it's quite conceivable that one of the sharks could make its way up the James.

Ben Dacey fishes the James River frequently. He remembers swimming near a family home in Maryland near where the sharks were caught.

"I've done a decent amount of fishing up there and we've swam in those waters, but I've never heard about anyone catching a bull shark," says Dacey.

News that a bull shark could swim up the James is not deterring Ben from taking a dip despite not knowing what is below the surface.

"I would jump in this water in a second," Ben says. "I wouldn't even think twice about it. The way I look at it is if it’s your time. It is your time."

Experts say the chances of a bull shark swimming far up the James are slim. Still, that slight chance will keep "Catfish TC" and his fishing buddy Justin Green safely on the banks of the James.

"They have about 1,000 teeth in their mouth," says Catfish TC.

"You definitely want to be on the shoreline or in a nice sized boat," says Green. "They could be just some crazy fish and went the wrong direction.”

“There are a lot of crazy people; why can’t you have crazy fish?!"