By JENNY PETERSON, WCIV
HILTON HEAD, S.C. (CIRCA via WCIV) — A South Carolina charter fisherman, who hooks great white sharks to tag for research, made a whopping discovery last week.
Michalove estimates the shark weighed 2,600 pounds— and was almost as wide as his boat. It was caught just a few miles off the South Carolina coast.
"It's such a massive fish, it's like hooking an elephant and then putting the brakes on it," he said in an interview.
For the past four winters, Hilton Head-based Michalove has worked with researchers to hook and tag great white sharks in the Atlantic Ocean. They are all released.
"Fishing is something I grew up doing since I was 4. Catching sharks that are thousands of pounds takes experience."
Last Saturday, Jan. 19, he said he hooked seven great white sharks in one day.
"Cant believe this place is so loaded," he posted.
Video footage looks like a scene from the movie "Jaws," with a great white shark dwarfing his charter fishing boat as it swims right next to it.
"I've always wanted to catch great whites and I figured out their migration patterns and their bait," he said. "The science community then came calling."
Michalove says he's tagged 20 great white sharks in conjunction with Dr. Greg Skomal, Recreational Fisheries Program manager at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.
"We put the highest level of technology tags on them—these tags monitor the water depth, the water temperature and the shark's track—it just gives you a ton of information."
He adds that the sharks are always caught several miles offshore, nowhere near the surf, or swimmers.
Michalove names some of the sharks he tags, including a 12 1/2-foot, 1,500-pound female he caught last week named Charli, who was found with a number of seal scratches on her body.
As shark tagging technology shows, a number of great white sharks migrate along the East Coast in the winter, many concentrating in areas off South Carolina.
Michalove states that he uses a permit to tag the sharks through Skomal and uses a mix of bait, including tuna carcasses and barracuda, to chum up the water.
A charter fisherman for 20 years, Michalove warns that it is a dangerous hobby and not for amateurs.
"Fishing is something I grew up doing since I was 4," he said. "Catching sharks that are thousands of pounds takes experience."
"All my life I've been about the summertime," he said, "but now I can’t wait until the winter."
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