Untamed Lowcountry

Hilton Head fishing crew catches ‘massive’ 16-foot, 3,000-pound great white shark

See the moment when Hilton Head fishing crew catches 16-foot great white shark

Chip Michalove, captain of Outcast Fishing, submitted this video of the great white shark he caught off Hilton Head Island.
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Chip Michalove, captain of Outcast Fishing, submitted this video of the great white shark he caught off Hilton Head Island.

A “skeleton” two-man Hilton Head fishing crew got the surprise of a lifetime when they hooked two great white sharks within five minutes on Monday.

Outcast Sport Fishing Charter Captain Chip Michalove said it was just “him and a buddy” Monday afternoon a few miles off the Hilton Head coast when a 10-foot shark caught the line.

“We fought (the shark) for a few minutes and then it spit the hook,” Michalove said. “I was so disappointed and ready to quit.”

Then just a few minutes later, a massive 16-foot, 3,000-pound great white shark was suddenly tugging at the line and taking the bite. The shark was so big Michalove had to call for backup help on the radio, and another fisherman and his daughter soon hopped on the boat and joined the fight.

“I couldn’t believe it, it was like the two sharks were traveling close to each other,” Michalove said. “I’ve hooked multiple in one day before, but they’re usually hours apart.”

He said the female shark was “round like a big bulldog” and didn’t resist too much when she was on the line before they released her.

“She just pulled up aside the boat and wanted to keep swimming,” Michalove said. “This one was just massive. She was so big, my skeleton crew had to call for help.”

Michalove, also known as the “Great White Shark Whisperer” has been on a great white shark streak for the last three years — something that few fishermen around the world can say. He’s hooked 26 sharks since he caught his first in 2015. Last year, he gained national attention for hooking three in one day, and in December, he made national headlines when a great white shark circled his boat.

Like clockwork, great white sharks swarm to Lowcountry waters every winter from December to March. Michalove has previously estimated that there are around 1,000 great whites off the South Carolina coast in the winter time. But this year was a little different.

Below-normal water temperatures have shaken up the East Coast shark world a bit this winter. Shark-tracking company OCEARCH spent several unsuccessful weeks between January and February cruising between South Carolina and Florida waters for great white sharks. The team of fishermen and scientists didn’t catch any sharks and said the cold water temperatures thwarted Expedition Lowcountry this year, News4Jax reported.

“The cold snap and January’s snow put a lot of pressure on the fish,” Michalove said. “It really hurt the inshore species and pushed the migratory species to the Gulf Stream.”

Michalove said it felt good to have a big fish on rod-and-reel again after a slower winter.

“It was my first time out there in three weeks. It was great to get two on the line,” Michalove said.

Michalove works with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy in Chatham, Mass., where he’s teamed up with scientists to study the movement patterns of great white sharks. He placed an acoustic tag on the shark’s fin before releasing her into the ocean, so the scientists can track the apex predator as it moves through the ocean. Michalove said he makes sure the process and method he uses to catch and tag great whites puts minimal stress on the animal.

“The (scientists) in Massachusetts looked at my video and estimated the shark was around 3,000 pounds, which is the biggest one I’ve caught this season,” Michalove said. “Now, I’m excited for March.”