FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A group of fishermen made an accidental catch off the shores of South Florida: a big sawfish.

First mate Fabrizio Cozzo worked to free the rare fish after it was caught aboard the charter fishing boat Bliss on Thursday.

The fishermen said they weren’t trying to catch the rare creature, which has a saw for a bill covered in teeth. They weren’t even that deep, just 150 feet or so off Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Captain Paolucci, who has been fishing for 20 years, said he couldn’t believe it.

“First one I’ve ever caught, 150 inches long. It was quite a battle,” he said. “We’ve caught a lot of fish over the years: marlin, sharks, tuna. That thing fought harder than any of them.”

Sawfish are some of the biggest creatures in the ocean and can reach up to 25 feet.

“We had three or four guys on the rod. When we would grab the rod and try to pull up, it would just not come up at all,” said Cozzo. “I just kept looking up at Pauly like dude this isn’t a regular thing.”

“It was late in the trip, and I was like, ‘Come on, guys, get it up there,’ and they were like, ‘No, this is pulling different,’ you know,” said Paolucci. “Then I went down, and it almost pulled me in the water. I was like ‘Damn, that thing’s strong.'”

Sawfish are also endangered and protected, which is why Cozzo and Paolucci worked carefully to get it to the boat so they could release it.

“It was an unreal experience,” said Cozzo.

A fisherman can go his whole life and never see a sawfish. Paolucci said this was his first one, and Cozzo, who is not even 20 years old, has already caught one.

Cozzo said it’s something he’ll never forget.

“Forever for the rest of my life,” he said.

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