A 45-minute tussle with a large shark has given a Bay of Plenty teenager the ultimate fisherman's tale - not to mention a few sore muscles.
Reuben Martin landed the catch of a lifetime when he hooked a 2m bronze whaler from Papamoa Beach last week.
The Te Puke 17-year-old, who has autism, was visiting the beach on Thursday evening when local fishermen gave him a turn behind their heavy-duty surfcaster.
Soon after, the line shot off into the surf and Reuben had to be held so he wouldn't be dragged out.
Grappling with the graphite rod, and strapped into a harness, Reuben had to muster all of his strength to bring the large shark - thought to have weighed 160kg - in by himself.
"It was a pretty big strain for him ... he's still got pulled muscles from pulling it in," said sister Rebecca Martin.
Once Reuben brought the shark into shallow water, the fishermen helped hold it down.
"When we got it in he got to pat it and touch it ... he was saying it was so awesome, and the shark was so beautiful - he was pretty excited to be that close to it."
After removing the hook and taking photographs to document the big catch, they let it loose.
"It shot straight back out to sea again."
She said her brother, a keen fisherman, hadn't stopped talking about the experience.
"He used to just want to catch kahawai, but after the shark he says he'd like to catch a marlin."
Bronze whalers can grow to 3.3m in length and weigh up to 200kg, and are common in the area, but are not regarded as a threat to humans.