Braden Sherron’s introduction to free-diving came in a somewhat unusual setting.
“I was in middle school when my science teacher showed us a free-diving video,” Sherron recalled. “I became fascinated.”
That fascination morphed into a hobby, eventually a popular YouTube channel, and now headlines in the wake of Sherron shooting a massive cubera snapper during a free dive off the Texas coast on June 3.
The 137-pound fish will likely set a new world record with the International Underwater Spearfishing Association. It tops the existing International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record by more than 12 pounds, but won’t qualify because those records are for rod and reel catches only.
“I wasn’t out there hunting a record,” said Sherron, a 20-year-old who is pursuing a marketing degree at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. “It wasn’t until I sent a video of the weight to a friend that everyone started freaking out.”
A lifelong resident of Corpus Christi, Sherron grew up fishing with his dad and brother. He became an avid spearfisherman as a high schooler, chasing inshore species at first.
“I started off just diving around jetties, and then I would take my dad’s boat out and it just took off from there,” he said. “I remember the first time I went offshore I was so excited I couldn’t sleep the night before.”
The trip was interesting.
“I got really sick,” he said, laughing. “I was throwing up in the water but I was having so much fun I didn’t care.”
It didn’t take him long to get his sea legs and soon he was regularly making long runs to wrecks and oil rigs to chase larger prey such as cobia, amberjack and wahoo.
Sherron trained some by doing breath-holds in a pool, but mostly he just got better by diving. A long dive can reach two-and-a-half minutes and it’s not unusual for Sherron and his buddies to dive past 70 feet.
“It’s definitely a sport,” he said.
Wise Choices From a Young Man
Sherron was diving around an offshore rig in late May, hunting amberjack, when he spotted a big Atlantic cubera. He made a smart and responsible decision.
“I didn’t have the right gear,” he said. “I always want to make sure I have the right equipment so I can recover the fish.”
Sherron spent a week getting that gear, including his strongest spear gun, in order. He and his brother, Blake, headed out at dawn on June 3 in Sherron’s well-worn 25-foot Panga center console.
“It’s the kind of boat that sometimes people see us and think, ‘What are they doing out here,’” he said with a laugh. “But it’s a great boat.”
Blake, 23, stayed in the boat while his younger brother took his first dive.
He quickly spotted what he believed was the large snapper.
“Unlike some fish, cubera snapper are pretty smart,” Sherron said. “The second it saw me it swam away so I backed off.”
On a subsequent dive, Sherron was down for about 90 seconds when he spotted the fish again. This time, he was able to get closer.
“It looked like a bus,” he said of the fish’s size.
The shot, from about 12 feet away, found its mark. Connected to a line hooked to a buoy on the surface, the snapper got tangled in the rig, which was Sherron’s hope. It gave him time to resurface, reload and return to dispatch the fish. He cut the lines and hauled the fish to the surface. Only as the two men tried to get the fish into the boat and then pose for pictures did its massive size finally become evident.
“I’d recently gotten a 100-pound amberjack that I was able to hold up pretty easily for pictures,” Sherron said. “I could barely lift this thing.”
Sherron captured everything on video and hopes to have the footage up on his YouTube channel soon.
Dinner is Served
With the fish on ice, the brothers made the three-hour return trip to shore, where they weighed the fish at the Port Aransas Fisherman’s Wharf. After the fish’s weight was officially certified, Sherron went to work on his next task—fileting it.
“We eat everything we shoot,” he said.
A couple days later Sherron invited friends to a massive fish fry.
“Everyone loved it,” he said. “It tasted like a really good red snapper.”
Sherron said he doesn’t plan to specifically target cubera snapper again anytime soon. Nor has this trophy made him record hungry. He’ll focus on the many other species he likes to chase, and just continue to enjoy his time on — and deep in — the water.
“I just love to dive and fish,” he said. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.”
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