Captain Chip Michalove of Outcast Sportfishing was offshore Hilton Head Island July 12 when he spotted an enormous hammerhead shark.
He tried baiting the massive fish. But the shark was smart and wouldn’t take a baited hook, according to a report in South Carolina’s Island Packet newspaper.
Time and again the shark charged Michalove’s bait, but wouldn’t commit to taking it, according to the report.
Michalove knew the hammerhead was a special fish, easily eclipsing the South Carolina record hammerhead of 588 pounds set in 1989.
So Michalove (a dedicated and experienced sharker) was determined to try catching the half-ton hammerhead the following day while guiding a shark charter with a pair of visiting veteran Virginia anglers, Pete Quartuccio and a buddy. But the wind and waves had come up the morning of July 13, so the anglers had to try sharking an area closer to Hilton Head. At 10:30 a.m., fishing an area only a few miles off Hilton Head Island, the same half-ton hammerhead showed, took a bait, and the fight was on. Quartuccio was on the rod when the massive fish struck.
“She ripped off like a bus, taking 400 yards in about 60 seconds,” Michalove told USA Today.
“I released from the anchor and spun the boat to chase [the shark]. I knew she was going to be enormous, but I didn’t know of the enormity until we got her a little closer and I could see the width.”
It took Quartuccio and his pal about an hour to draw the hammerhead near enough for Michalove to grab the fish. They never considered boating it or bringing it back to weigh and measure.
The shark fight was so brutal, Michalove said, that Quartuccio and his buddy were too tired to pose for photos while the beaten fish was boatside.
“They were so exhausted they could barely stand,” Michalove said. “Pete crashed on the cooler and laid there in exhaustion, and his friend was so tired that I barely convinced him to just hold the camera while I reached over and grabbed the shark’s head for one quick photo.
“I tried to get them to lean over for a picture, but they wouldn’t budge. So I threw a quick tag in the shark, popped the hook and sent her off.”
Their hammerhead catch, while not official because it wasn’t weighed and measured, surely would have topped the current state record fish. However, with two anglers battling the shark, it would not qualify as an IGFA catch.
The IGFA all-tackle hammerhead shark world record is a 1,280-pounder, caught at Boca Grande, Fla. in 2006.
Such massive hammerheads commonly congregate to feed on tarpon during their spring-summer runs in the coastal South. The 1,280-pounder taken off Boca Grande was caught during the Florida tarpon run. Michalove says the same is true off Hilton Head from now through August while tarpon are available for hammerheads to feast on there.
“This fish is probably older than I am and to just to kill it to make a few headlines or to get my name in a record book, isn’t worth it,” Michalove said. “Fifteen years ago, I would’ve thrown a rope around her head and dragged her back to demolish the records. But these sharks have given me a good life and they’re too important to our fishery.
“There’s not even a question that we did the right thing,” said Michalove about releasing the half-ton hammerhead.