Sports

Just in time for Shark Week: NCCU’s Erik Schlecker reels in impressive catch

North Carolina Central's Erik Schlecker caught a shark off the coast of Morehead City recently.
North Carolina Central's Erik Schlecker caught a shark off the coast of Morehead City recently. Photo courtesy of Erik Schlecker

Erik Schlecker is used to delivering on the football field, but a fishing expedition with a North Carolina Central teammate led to the catch of a lifetime.

Schlecker, the Eagles’ preseason All-American long snapper, is as good as they come when it comes to delivering the football. The Sunrise, Fla., native earned a 99 percent success rate on his snaps the past two seasons, but his summer highlight might have been a recent trip to the Atlantic Ocean.

Schlecker was fishing with Eagles offensive lineman Andrew Dale, who is from Morehead City, when he reeled in a shark that was nearly 100 pounds and six feet in length.

Schlecker, a senior, and Dale, a redshirt sophomore, have made several fishing trips this summer. In fact, this wasn’t the first time they went fishing for sharks -- they caught what Schlecker described as a “baby shark” earlier this summer -- but this is the first time one was caught that they believed was big enough for the trophy room.

Perfect timing as ‘Shark Week” begins this week on the Discovery Channel.

“That particular day we knew what we were going for and we got it,” Schlecker said.

Sharks are no strangers to the North Carolina coast. In March a great white shark nearly 10-feet long was tracked of Ocracoke and Hatteras islands, according to the research team at OCEARCH, which tracks shark navigation.

Sand tiger sharks in North Carolina and along the broader east coast of the USA help track shark movement and behavior over time.

Cape Hatteras is four hours north of Morehead City. In April, OCEARCH tracked sharks off the coast of Wilmington, one weighing 702 pounds.

The duo took the boat out about 200 yards from shore -- Dale has a good feel for the shark areas, Schlecker said. They dropped the bait (a stingray), went back to land and waited almost an hour before anything bit. The first time they caught a shark the guys were able to reel it in manually. This time they had help from a harness, combined with a little muscle that comes from all the summer workouts with the football team.

“It was definitely exciting and fun to do,” Schlecker said. “Especially during the summer it’s something fun to do when we go off campus.”

Schlecker said he didn’t do a lot of fishing in his native Florida, but occasionally he likes to get out to the North Carolina coast to see some water and sand, to give him a small glimpse of home, of the Sunshine State.

In April, Schlecker was named to the HERO Sports 2018 FCS Preseason All-American Team. He has started the past two seasons for the Eagles after transferring from ASA College in Miami.

This great white shark circled Chip Michalove's boat for about 45 mins. She would do multiple trips around the boat, then leave for 10 minutes, but always came back, said Michalove, who called the shark an "amazing fish!"

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