A group of anglers found themselves in an unexpected fight recently off the coast of Hilton Head Island, when they hooked a mature great white shark in just 30 feet of water.
Captain Chip Michalove of Outcast Fishing had taken his charter out on Wednesday when the unusual encounter transpired, according to the Post and Courier. His customer, Troy Bowman of Bulls Gap, Tenn., was already tired after having caught several large redfish when the shark took their bait, racing off with the line.
— Courier-Journal.com (@courierjournal) March 11, 2016
And so began a four-hour-long fight between the duo and the great white shark. Though the anglers weren’t initially sure what they had hooked, all doubt was removed when the great white burst from the sea, breaching the surface in a way rarely documented along the East Coast, as Michalove related.
“It jumped completely out like a killer whale at Sea World. Straight up.”
Bowman called the experience “unbelievable,” noting that he was astonished by the 13-foot-long, 2,500-pound shark.
“It was like you’d seen an elephant out there. So big.”
After three hours of battling the shark, the fishermen were both spent, prompting Michalove to call in another charter captain for help. After roughly another hour of fighting, the group were able to bring the great white alongside their boat around 7 p.m., though the animal was full of energy and “still meant business, even at that time,” Michalove said.
MUST SEE: 14-foot great white shark reeled in off coast of Hilton Head https://t.co/QjQ9VQbWK6 pic.twitter.com/UCfQIekrtf
— WPXI (@WPXI) March 11, 2016
Photos show Michalove holding the shark’s nose after it reached the boat, where the anglers were able to apply an acoustic tag near the animal’s dorsal fin. They also removed a DNA sample from the shark’s pectoral fin, before releasing her back into the sea.
In a Facebook post detailing the catch, Michalove related that he had his first experience with a great white shark in South Carolina just over a year ago. Since then, he has honed his ability to track and catch them, and now relates that he sees a great white “almost every trip out.” He also reflected on the clever nature of the great white shark, saying he had been told by another angler that he’d only be able to hook roughly half of the sharks he found. When it comes to the great white, Michalove says it is “unequivocally, the most intelligent fish I’ve ever seen.”
While impressive, the catch isn’t the first time that Michalove’s talents have made headlines. Last year, he was responsible for catching and tagging Chessie, an unusually large tiger shark, in the same area off Hilton Head, as the Inquisitr previously reported. Tracked by Ocearch (a non-profit dedicated to studying sharks worldwide), Chessie garnered a large online following as she moved up and down the East Coast.
Michalove regularly works with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, setting lines for great white and tiger sharks in an effort to tag them. He has over 20 years of experience working with the animals, according to DNR wildlife biologist Bryan Frazier, and as such is uniquely qualified to handle them in close quarters.
The white shark he encountered on Wednesday turned out to be one of the largest that Michalove has ever landed, but it was hardly his first catch of the season. As Fox 8 points out, he noted that this particular shark was the fifth that he had hooked so far, and the third to be successfully landed. Impressive in size, it is still dwarfed by Mary Lee and Katharine, two other tagged great white sharks that have been reported off Hilton Head at various times in the recent past.
[Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]