SHARKS, crocodiles and an encounter with a manatee were just a few of the highlights for globe-trotting angler Mick Toomer.

The Basildon angler has just returned from a fortnight’s fishing in 80-degree-plus temperatures in Florida.

Toomer started his expedition fishing halfway along the Florida Keys where he opened his account with spinner sharks of 90lb and 120lb in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

As their name suggests these sharks make numerous leaps from the water spinning as they do so. They are also very fast, stripping off hundreds of yards of line in searing runs.

The following day Toomer turned his attention to black tips sharks landing fish to 140lb in just five feet of water.

A session in the even shallower water of the Everglades saw Toomer add snook and red drum to the list, whilst keeping clear of a 15ft crocodile basking on the bank!

Toomer also landed tarpon of 35lb and 55lb. The biggest fish fell to a float-fished pinfish in a gutway, whilst the other was tempted by a rapala trolled alongside the pylons of a road bridge halfway along the Keys between Miami and Key West.

His biggest fish came a couple of days later when a large deadbait fished in eight feet of water produced a nurse shark of well over 250lbs.

“Like all nurse sharks, the fish was relatively slow moving in the water, relying on its bulk and weight rather than speed,” said Toomer “However it objected violently when I got a rope around its tail, and even more so as three people struggled to haul it aboard the 21ft boat for a photograph.

“Getting the none-too-impressed fish back over the side afterwards was even more interesting!”

The final excitement of the fortnight came when a manatee swam up a canal looking for fresh water. Toomer obliged it by jumping into the water to feed the ton-plus creature from a hosepipe!

Toomer was fishing with pal John Rawle, who runs Florida fishing holidays when he is not skippering his Bradwell-based charter boat Donna Carole. For more information ring Rawle on 01621 776445.