Shelton High football great Piccirillo's success extends to high seas

SHELTON - Mark Piccirillo, Jr., record-setting quarterback at Shelton High and Wesleyan University, has found success in another sport — fishing.

Mark Jr., on a fishing trip with his father, Mark Sr., in May in Key West, Fla., hooked a 6-foot, 150-pound tarpon. Mark Sr. said it took his son almost two hours to bring it in. He said his son’s struggle pulled the boat for several miles.

“He has been fishing since he was very young, but in the past six years, it has turned into a passion,” Mark Sr. said about his 24-year-old son.

Mark Jr. said several times his hands and arms felt numb when fighting the fish. He said he reeled the fish close to the boat several times and then the fish would take off and run like 100 yards, and he would have to start the fight all over again.

“When the fish first hit the bait (live Pin fish) it jumped approximately 10 feet out of the water,” Mark Sr. said. “The fish was caught on the very first cast of his fishing trip.

“Being able to get into the water with a fish like this was something he always dreamed about,” he added. “This size tarpon is probably a once in a lifetime fish … the captain of the boat said in more than 15 years fishing in Key West, it is the largest tarpon landed on his boat.”

On the second day of the fishing trip, Mark Jr. caught two lemon sharks, each an estimated 200 pounds. That day they were on the Atlantic Ocean side of Key West.

“As if that wasn’t enough luck, when Mark got home, he went fishing in the Housatonic River in Shelton and caught maybe a record-size pike,” Mark Sr. said. “I believe the state record is 46 inches and 29 pounds and the pike Mark caught was 47 inches, and he put the measurements into an app on his phone and it said the fish was about 31 pounds. But you have to kill them and bring them in to officially weight them and he didn’t want to kill it.”

Mark Jr. remains one of the greatest quarterbacks in Shelton High history, finishing his storied career with a senior season of more than 4,000 total yards and 54 touchdowns. He earned the Walter Camp State Player of the Year Award in 2015. He followed that up with a record-setting career at Wesleyan University, where he finished as one of the top quarterbacks in the conference’s history.

He is currently attending Quinnipiac University and is studying pathology, his father says, “so he fishes whenever he gets the opportunity in between classes and work.”

“Mark’s grandfather just passed away the week before his trip, and they were extremely close, so I told him he must have been watching over him,” Mark Sr. added.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com