IT is an image of pure glee – a group of keen fishos smiling from ear to ear after snaring a possible world record 625.5kg tiger shark caught on only 15kg line.
They stand proudly next to the massive fish after it was weighed at Lake Macquarie following the Australia Day catch off Swansea.
It is a photograph similar to the countless that have adorned the walls of homes belonging to anglers for decades and sparked conversations regarding where and when something was hooked.
And in an age where social media rules, it has again sparked conversation, albeit with stronger tones.
The photograph quickly made its way onto several fishing sites – and even a shark spotting page – and went viral.
But it failed to prompt any comment from either the fishermen, their fishing club or others in the industry.
The man who caught the shark, and is a pending world-record holder, declined to speak to the Newcastle Herald when contacted on Thursday.
Instead, he said all enquiries had to go through Lake Macquarie Game Fishing Club.
Club secretary Casey Sadler said he could not comment and told the Herald to ring the president, Paul Hogg.
But despite repeated calls and messages, Mr Hogg failed to respond.
Even local fishermen were too concerned to go on the record, claiming the media incited “greenies” and “do-gooders” and placed even more pressure on governments and fishing groups to change angling laws.
“They just don’t want the heat,’’ one fisherman said on condition of anonymity.
“The last thing anyone wants is for more marine parks or green spaces where we can’t fish.
“The guys are proud of the catch, but you won’t find them talking about the photograph publicly.
“And the media beats it up – it’s not a good look.’’
And the reaction on the Facebook sites backs up the fisherman’s claims.
In less than two days, the photograph tagged on Offshore Fishing NSW’s Facebook site had gathered more than 3300 likes, 3000 shares and 2200 comments.
But not all could be described as positive.
“Hey guys, been fishing nearly my whole life and catching this huge tiger and killing it is no different than shooting a lion or a bengal tiger. Why not just tag it and let it go,’’ Russell Lake posted.
Casey Mullholland said: “What a shame this beauty couldn't sustain his life and become something bigger to be in awe of. Beautiful fish. Sad death.’’
But there was this from Michael Burwell: “I often wonder why people who hate fishing and fishermen troll such sites. If it offends you move on or better still embrace diversity, some people believe in different ideals to you. PS top catch well done to all’’.
Mr Burwell’s comment attracted 170 likes and sparked a separate discussion about the rights and wrongs of sports fishing.