Large hammerhead brought on board

Large hammer head brought on board
A hammerhead for the ages!
Chip Michalove

Captain Chip Michalove of Outcast Sportfishing was off Hilton Head Island on July 12 when he saw a huge hammerhead shark.

He tried to lure the big fish. But the shark was smart and wouldn’t take a baited hook, according to a report in South Carolina’s Island Packet newspaper.

Again and again, the shark charged Michalove’s bait but would not commit to taking it, according to the report.

Michalove knew the hammerhead was a special fish, easily eclipsing South Carolina’s record hammerhead of 588 pounds set in 1989.

So Michalove (a dedicated and experienced shark) was determined to try and catch a half ton hammerhead the following day while guiding a shark charter with a couple of visiting veteran anglers from Virginia, Pete Quartuccio and a buddy. But the wind and waves had picked up on the morning of July 13, so the anglers had to try to shake an area closer to Hilton Head. At 10:30 a.m. fished an area just a few miles from Hilton Head Island, showed the same half-ton hammerhead, took a bait, and the fight was on. Quartuccio was on the rod when the massive fish hit.

“She ripped like a bus and ran 400 yards in about 60 seconds,” Michalove told USA Today.

“I let go of the anchor and spun the boat to give chase [the shark]. I knew she was going to be huge, but I didn’t know the scale until we got her a little closer and I could see the width.”

It took Quartuccio and his mate about an hour to drag the hammerhead close enough for Michalove to grab the fish. They never considered sailing it or bringing it back to be weighed and measured.

The shark fight was so brutal, Michalove said, that Quartuccio and his buddy were too tired to pose for pictures while the battered fish lay by the boat.

“They were so exhausted they could barely stand,” Michalove said. “Pete crashed onto the cooler and lay there in exhaustion, and his friend was so tired that I barely convinced him to just hold the camera while I reached out and grabbed the shark’s head for a quick photo.

“I tried to get them to lean over for a picture, but they wouldn’t budge. So I threw a quick tag at the shark, set the hook and sent her off.”

Their hammerhead catch, while unofficial because it wasn’t weighed and measured, would certainly have topped the current state record fish. However, with two anglers fighting the shark, it would not qualify as an IGFA catch.

The IGFA world record hammerhead shark is a 1,280-pounder caught in Boca Grande, Fla. in 2006.

Such massive hammerheads often gather to feed tarpon during their spring-summer run in the coastal South. The 1,280 pounds taken from Boca Grande were caught during the Florida tarpon run. Michalove says the same is true for 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 it’s not worth it,” Michalove said. “Fifteen years ago I would have thrown a rope around her head and dragged her back to tear down the plates. But these sharks have given me a good living and they are too important to our fishery.

“There’s not even a question that we did the right thing,” Michalove said of releasing the semi-heavy hammerhead.

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