WE all know fishermen have stories of the one that got away but a couple of local fishos have a yarn that will take some topping.
It entails a juvenile great white shark and the Shoalhaven River.
Last Wednesday evening local fisho Joe Gaffney decided to go to Berrys Canal, which links the Shoalhaven and Crookhaven rivers between the mainland and Comerong Island, for a spot of fishing.
Upon arriving at the canal he heard a commotion as he walked down to his fishing spot next to the ferry.
After turning on his torch and shining it at the water’s edge he was surprised to see a shark that had somehow beached itself on the rocks on the north-western side of the ferry while chasing a bait school in the river.
Not knowing what to do, he yelled out to ferry driver Danny Turner, who was on duty for the evening.
An “old salty” from way back, Mr Turner recognised the shark as a juvenile great white, grabbed his gumboots and set about trying to assist the shark, which was struggling for life after being out of the water for some time.
He contacted his cousin Barry Preston, who along with his son Mitchell, arrived and also helped in the rescue.
Mr Turner spent around 45 minutes reviving “the impressive creature” before it began to show signs of improvement.
“It was just sitting beached up on some oysters, all high and dry,” he said.
“If Joe hadn’t found him the poor bugger would have been dead – Joe couldn’t get down to him as he only had thongs on and was cutting his feet on the oysters.
“We managed to get him back into the water, which was no mean feat – he weighed about 70 kilos – but he didn’t put up a fight, he was too exhausted.
“We walked him out into deeper water and I kept scooping water down his mouth and over his gills.
“He started to kick and we pushed him out in the water but he turned and swam back onto the rocks again.
“We again manhandled him back into the water and this time took him out further – he kicked again and this time he swam off into the darkness.
“With an outgoing tide hopefully he found his way back to the open ocean to live a long and healthy life.”
Mr Turner, who has been fishing for more than 40 years both in the estuary and out at sea, said he had never seen anything like it.
“It was all pretty amazing, I’m still dumbfounded by it all,” he said.
“All I was concerned about was getting him back in the water and keeping him going.
“I was a shark fisho for a number of years and encountered sharks, but nothing like this – I think I have only ever seen five great whites before and never caught one.
“To have one of the greatest predators in the world in my hands was pretty amazing.
“My daughter Kaelea wants to dive with the great whites, she wasn’t real impressed when I told her what I had been up to.”