Forget Shark Week and the release of Jaws on Blu-Ray, the real shark action this summer took place off Pensacola on August 4 when Auburn University senior Tyler Kennedy landed a 13 ½-foot tiger shark. Check out the photos and story behind this leviathan.
Tyler’s tiger tale began when he, his uncle Michael Kennedy, cousin Ryan Kennedy, and fishing partners Brett Rutledge and Rob Mayfield entered the Outcast Mega Shark Tournament 2012. Despite it being Tyler’s first time in a shark tournament, the 21-year-old college senior hit pay dirt the first day out when he landed an 8-foot, 336-pound bull shark.
Not a bad way to start.
The second day of the tournament took Tyler and his crew about 20 miles southeast of Orange Beach where he dropped a 15-pound king mackerel with its tail cut off to the bottom of the 130-feet of water. It was 5:00 am. An hour later, the line on Tyler’s Penn International 50W reel started to slowly tick. Tyler gave whatever was on the other end a few minutes then set the hook. The rod jerked so violently that Tyler almost went overboard. Tyler collected himself then pulled back on the rod. He said it was like pulling on a brick wall.
Tyler got his first glimpse of the shark after only 20 minutes of fighting when the telltale tiger stripes appeared 50 yards from the boat. The sighting was short-lived however, as the shark dove deep and stayed down for three hours.
During the up and down up and down three-hour battle Tyler kept his knees wedged under the bow pads of his Uncle Mike’s boat. Tyler explained to, “I was doing all I could to get line back and Uncle Mike would tell me it’s 50 feet under the boat, 40 feet, 30 feet, but then it would make another run. It was a miserable, painful fight.” Just when his knees were about to snap, Tyler managed to get the monster to the surface where Mike put a harpoon into the back of the shark’s head. But the shark still had some fight left in him. Brett discovered this firsthand when he got a rope around the monster’s tail. “Brett lassoed the tail and the shark just went crazy. Brett’s a big guy, and every time it would whip its tail it was lifting him 2 feet off the deck,” Tyler said. A few well-placed pistol shots ended the fight once and for all.
A fight of a different kind ensued once Tyler and crew tried to get the shark on board. Lifting the shark into the boat was impossible and using a portable winch proved just as unsuccessful. In the end, the men were forced to lash the shark to the side.
The tiger’s head was more than four feet wide, its mouth over three.
To put that last measurement into perspective, measure yourself at the shoulders. Mine are just under two feet (but then I’m buff). Tyler’s shark would have little problem swallowing me.
The trip back to shore took more than five hours due to the 5 mph speed they were forced to keep thanks to the size of the tiger.
Tyler took his boat to a friend’s house where they used his boatlift to move the leviathan into the boat. Brett got the job of securing the shark to the hoist. From there it was onto Palafox Marina in Pensacola for the weigh in.
The marina used a crane to off load the shark onto a metal cart for transport to the scale. Two tires on the cart blew out under the weight of the shark.
Tyler’s tiger shark weighed an astronomical 948.6 pounds and measured over 13 ½ feet long. The shark not only won the tournament hands down, but set a new Outcast Mega Shark Tournament record. Tyler’s bull shark placed second in the bull shark division. Not bad for someone who had never fished in a shark tournament before.
(L to R) Rob Mayfield, Brett Rutledge, Tyler Kennedy, Mike Kennedy and his son Ryan Kennedy.When asked if he thinks he can ever top his tiger shark record, Tyler replied, “That’d be pretty tough but I’m willing to try.”
Just how large and deadly a predator Tyler’s tiger shark had been was put on display when the biologist dissected it to find the remains of a seven-foot long porpoise inside (he donated the catch for scientific study). Tyler believes that had he caught the shark shortly after its snack the beast would have tipped the scales at over 1,200 pounds. The world record shark was famously caught in 1964 by Walter Maxwell. That shark weighed 1,780 pounds.

Tyler Kennedy, a student at Auburn University, landed this 13 1/2-foot, 948-pound tiger shark. Check out the photos and story behind this leviathan.