Christmas came early for a group of five Wisconsin natives on a chartered fishing expedition Friday, in the form of a visit from one of the ocean’s most feared and majestic predators.
Chip Michalove, owner and operator of Outcast Fishing on Hilton Head Island, had planned an afternoon of catching and releasing smaller fish, like sea bass, redfish, or maybe a small shark when an enormous great white shark appeared.
“At about noon I saw a big shadow behind the boat, and I was surprised because I was so close in shore,” said Michalove.
Usually it takes a day or two of active searching for Michalove to find a great white, and even when he does, it is usually further out, he said. He has caught and released several great whites off the Lowcountry coast, but they usually make him work for it.
“To only be out there for a couple hours and have one circle the boat was pretty rare,” he said. “The shark came in. It would circle the boat a few times, and then it would leave. Then it would come back. Every time we thought she was gone for good she showed right back up.”
The shark didn’t get close enough for him to hook it, Michalove said. He tried to tag it, but it stayed just out of reach for that, too.
The shark was not at all aggressive according to Michalove, who described it as “real timid.”
He said that during this time of year sharks are usually looking for dead whales, which his boat might have been mistaken for.
As for his customers?
“They were absolutely blown away,” said Michalove. “They said ‘how in the world are we going to be able to top this?’ They were so excited they were speechless by the end of the day.”
All told, the shark kept returning to and circling the boat for about 45 minutes, Michalove said.