Wilton man vacations with sharks

Back in April for the opening of trout season, Wilton angler Matt Walsh caught an 18-inch, three-pound brown trout in the Norwalk River. Pretty big for a trout.

Recently he was after a much bigger catch. Sharks!

Walsh went down to Hilton Head on vacation with his fiancée Jessica Magner, who grew up in Wilton. Beach fishing for sharks there has been a “diehard passion” of his since he was 7, he told The Bulletin.

“It’s a lot of hard work, early mornings, lugging gear, paddling bait out 200 to 300 yards and endless hikes back and forth on the beach, but to me it’s all part of the game and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. “The tougher it is, the more fun.”

Among his catch were lemon sharks and blacktip sharks. The largest lemon shark he pulled in was about nine feet long and more than 300 pounds.

“It took me about two hours to get it in,” he said.

On his last day there, Walsh hooked a 12-foot tiger shark that he fought for three hours. The half-ton fish managed to bite through the leader and he lost it.

Walsh said he used whole stingrays for bait, which he carried 200 to 300 yards offshore with a kayak. He then paddled back and waited.

“Down in the South Carolina, more specifically Hilton Head Island, there are so many sharks right off the beach, thousands, they really don't make it public how many sharks run up and down those beaches,” Walsh said. “I have actually been in the water and bumped into them and sometimes you can see them jumping out of the water as they feed on bait fish.”

Walsh said Hilton Head is a very special place for him and his bride-to-be. “We are actually getting married at a country club down there which happens to be less than a mile from where we caught those sharks,” he said.

This just happens to be Shark Week at the South Carolina Aquarium.