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 The Great White Shark is the undisputed king of the sea. Nothing is as big and as aggressive. They are capable of demolishing baits, boats and anything else that they want. They are known to grow to 8 meters, though anything over 5 meters (about 1000lbs) is considered a monster. Absolutely fearless, it can appear suddenly behind a boat, lift itís great head and eyeball the occupants. An unnerving experience. Any fish over 4 meters is way too much for any boat under 6 meters. These sharks will take live or dead baits, but are mostly fished for with huge slabs or whole tuna baits, and huge amounts of berley to attract them. 
          Whilst found all over the world and all around the Australian coast, there are certain locations which have a reputation for having many Great Whites. South Australia has the deserved reputation as the Great White capital of the world. IGFA record reveal some of the biggest sharks ever taken on rod and reel have come from these waters. 

          Because of their great bulk and stubbornness, Great Whites test those who hook them to the limit. And one tested me to the limit on one trip with Sharkmen Charters, at an island 20kms off the mainland. As we approached the island some of the resident population of seals came out to greet us, while others eyed us suspiciously from the rocks. We established a thick, pungent berley trail and hung some tuna carcases over the transom as teasers.  I was really looking forward to doing battle with a Great White. But the next few days passed without incident. 
        You can find a Great White in a few hours or it can take days, patience is a pre-requisite. The fourth day promised perfect weather. But something was different. Our berley buckets and the tuna had been shredded and all the seals had disappeared. We had had a visitor. I hopped in the chair and harnessed up ready to go, but it was an hour before the shark came back. She was huge, must have been 5 meters or more and well over 1000lbs. My eyes bulged and my mouth suddenly went dry. I had never seen such a big fish. My pulse raced as the Great White prepared to attack. 
        It reared from the water, snapping its jaws as itís dead black eyes swiveled in their sockets and eyeballed me. I was transfixed. I was soon shaken out of my stupor as the great fish took one of our baited hooks. I let her run with it before sinking the hook and hung on for dear life as she barrel rolled across the surface. Then she settled down and went deep. Line raced off the spool as I fought to hold her, and it was some time before I was able to get some line back and feel in control. The fight took four hours and we did it in rotation, but finally the shark was beside the boat and we quickly tagged and released her. 
        Emotionally and physically spent I quickly downed a few beers and realised I had just experienced something I would never forget. Everyone should have such an experience at least once in their lifetime. 

Big, very big, with a dull grey back and a white underside. Spindle shaped body. Triangular shaped teeth with serrations on the edge. Large caudal fin with both the upper lobe and the lower lobe being approximately the same size. Long conical snout. Long gill slits. 

Can be found in all temperate coastal waters and has been known to make occasional dives into the deeper waters of the open ocean. Has been found in water as shallow as three feet, but has also been caught from waters 1280 meters deep. 

Tends to cruise at the sea bottom whilst keeping an eye out for shapes on the surface. If it sees a shape resembling a seal ( swimmer, surfer, diver etc) it will make a full speed charge at the shape. It will ram and bite all in one movement, stunning and injuring the prey. It then disappears and lets the prey bleed to death. When it is certain that it is dead it will begin to feed. 

As juveniles, great whites feed mainly on fish. When fully grown their diet 
consists mainly of Marine Mammals, such as Whales, seals, dolphins and the occasional human. 

Big, they can grow to very big sizes with reports of over 36 feet long. An average size is 3 to 4 meters. A 5 meter Great White weighs about 1000 pounds. Most large Great Whites are female. An ocean full of Snapper, Bream or Flathead would be considered to be heaven. An ocean full of sharks on the other hand would be considered a sinister hell. Humans think sharks are vicious, evil killers. A typical human reaction is one of horror and fascination. Fishermen used to kill every shark they came across believing they were doing the right thing. 
        Since those days, experience has shown us the folly of wiping out the top-line predators. Community attitudes have changed towards the larger predators, but most people are still afraid of sharks. Perhaps itís the fear of what sharks are capable of doing to the human body that stupefies our minds. Or maybe we just donít like to be eaten. The first recorded fatal shark attack was in 1791, when an Aboriginal boy was taken in New South Wales. These days a shark attack is more likely to be seen for what it is, an unfortunate accident. It is much more likely that you will be hit by a bus or lightning than taken by a shark. As we come to understand sharks better, we come to realise that they are just like other fish, only bigger and more capable of inflicting injury. 
           While sharks sometimes attack humans by mistake or when someone stupidly exposes themselves to excessive risk, they are not vindictive, and it is humans who set out to deliberately hunt them. Most fishermen who target sharks are involved in tournaments or charter activities and are more inclined to tag and release than kill. These fishermen are not interested in small fish or ones without fighting merit. 

For more information on fishing holidays in Australia, contact
Garry Goldate
PO Box 287
Victoria 3185
ph: + 61-3-9783 1104
fax:   61 3 9783 1017
 [email protected]


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