HILTON HEAD, SC (WFLA) – In the Tampa Bay area, it’s rare to spot a Great White Shark. Those who see the magnificent fish are often amazed.
If you are among those who admire the world’s largest predatory fish, you will want to hear a South Carolina man’s amazing tale – and he has an equally amazing photo to go with it.
Captain Chip Michalove, 40, is the owner and operator of a fishing charter company in Hilton Head called Outcast Sport Fishing.
He became “hooked” on fishing at the young age of four, when his parents took him on his first charter fishing trip.
Since then, he has caught plenty of fish and has a passion for catching and releasing sharks – with emphasis on the “release.”
Michalove catches sharks and attaches an acoustic tag on them. He then releases the sharks back into the water. The tags stay on the shark for seven years.
Receivers are placed at many locations on the east coast. When a tagged shark passes a receiver, the information on the shark’s tag is picked up by the receiver and logged into a database that scientists use to track and study sharks.
The Great White Sharks spend the summers off the Massachusetts coast and then move south, off the coasts of North and South Carolina for the winter.
“We’ve probably got 1,000 Great White in the winter,” Michalove said of the Carolinas’ snowbird shark population.
Last winter, Michalove caught and released five Great White Sharks.
Even more amazing, last Tuesday was his first winter fishing trip off the Hilton Head coast and he hooked two Great White Sharks in the same day – one weighed an estimated 3,000 pounds.
“Caught and released the first Great White Shark of the season this afternoon. At noon we hooked into the largest White I’ve seen out there, over 3k lbs, but she spit the hook right when we started to turn the boat around to give chase. I almost called it a day and headed in, but we reset and hooked into this little guy. First male white shark I’ve caught. We put an acoustic tag on him and sent him on his way. Congrats to Pavel for battling this guy around the boat and under the motor 4 times. 1-2 on whites in December isn’t bad, but I’m going to get that monster,” wrote Michalove on the Outcast Sport Fishing Facebook page.
Michalove said finding Great White Sharks can be challenging. “It’s a needle in a haystack,” he said.
Michalove fondly remembers his first encounter with a Great White Shark. He says the massive fish circled his boat and was not interested in taking any bait. The Great White appeared to want to take a bite of his boat. “The first one I saw kinda freaked me out,” he said.
Michalove has been a fishing guide for 17 years now and thoroughly enjoys catching and releasing sharks.
“It’s been one of the most amazing things I’ve done in my life.”