WILKES-BARRE (AP) - Many people learn to fish from their parents and grandparents at a young age.
Michael Roth, on the other hand, taught himself when he was 9 because no one else in his family had any interest in the sport.
More than 55 years later, he's an avid fisherman who has caught one of the largest blacktip sharks ever at more than 120 pounds - nearly 45 pounds more than the 77-pound record.
However, because of a combination of factors - location, lack of official equipment to weigh the shark, and his choice not to kill any of the large fish he catches - he does not officially hold the record.
Roth, a Scranton attorney, found the shark more than 500 miles southeast of Miami, in Turks and Caicos during a January fishing trip. The plan was to catch sharks off the cost of Providenciales Island with a fly rod, a lighter more flexible fishing pole than the standard reel rod. After passing some smaller sharks, Roth dropped his bait hoping to lure his target.
That is when the blacktip shark showed up, swimming 50 feet from the bow of the boat as it followed a trail of barracuda chum.
"He was actually sipping little pieces of the chum that were drifting in the current," Roth said. "I let him get comfortable out there for about 10 minutes."
It was during the shark's second pass around the boat that Roth threw his self-made orange fly in front of his target. The shark took the bait and swam about 250 yards with it, Roth said.
"There was just no stopping him," he said.
From there, it took Roth more than 90 minutes to get the shark into the boat.
According to the International Game Fishing Association, in order for that catch to have been certified, they would have had to get it to a certified scale, which was more than an hour away.
Roth, refusing to kill his catch, decided to take a picture with the shark, alive, before releasing it back into the water.
"I wasn't going to kill that fish under any circumstances," Roth said. "We knew we were going to release any fish that we caught."
Roth, an Allentown native, said he has not killed any of his big catches in years in order to preserve the life and growth of the fish.
That was the case in December on a fishing trip with his son, Ryan, off the coast of Louisiana.
Roth caught a black drum fish that he believes could easily have been a state-record using a fly rod. However, because they had no way of weighing the fish, Roth remained true to his ways and returned the fish to the water shortly after they had taken a picture of it.
"Regrettably, the International Game Fishing Association, which certifies all world records, virtually requires you to kill all of these world-record fish," Roth said. "These rules encourage you to take the best of these species and kill it so it cannot pass on its genetic material."
In Roth's opinion, the reason for smaller numbers and size of different species of fish is because of all the largest fish being killed over the years in order to get a world record.
In 2011, the IGFA added length as a category for world records, which Roth said is a step in the right direction toward the conservation of the fish, but it is still not enough.
"The IGFA should eliminate all world records if the fish dies," Roth said "Everybody should encourage the health of the fishery and the preservation of these species."
Roth said that there is an incredible amount of crucial information that goes into fishing, including knowing how the tides work, knowing the type of fish in the particular area, and understanding what the fish are eating during that time of year.
One of the greatest things he has learned from other fishermen was a self-made fly. Both the blacktip and black drum were caught using the same two-inch fly that Roth created, which mimics a shrimp's tail and legs in its design.
His next trip will be to Charleston, S.C., where he knows he will make time to partake in his favorite hobby.
"I played baseball in college, I'm a pretty good golfer," Roth said. " To me nothing compares to being in the salt water, hunting and catching fish. Everything is a distant second."