Two fishermen caught more than they bargained for.
Fab Marchese and Captain Joe Maisano were 30 miles off the coast of John’s Pass, Fla., Friday when they spotted a great white shark beside them, WTSP reports. The pair lured the shark closer with bait and let it drag for five miles, close to three hours, before letting it go, according to the news outlet.
"Big Momma showed up, wanted to play," Maisano said.
At first the pair thought the giant fish was a submarine. A cell phone video captures the moment when they discovered it was a great white shark.
“Well, we hooked in a 350 pound goliath grouper earlier, and you cannot compare that fight with the great white,” Marchese told ABC News. Experts later told them the shark was anywhere from 16 to 18 feet long and could have weighed between 2,500 to 4,000 pounds.
Continue Reading Below
Story continues after photos
Maisano, who has owned a fishing charter company in the area for 12 years, had never seen a great white before, he told ABC News.
“It just smelled the blood in the water, because we have been sitting there for several hours and he just wanted to come up and get some food,” he told the news outlet.
After their three-hour battle with the shark, they let him go.
The great white shark has been a protected species in Florida since 2004, Roger Young, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission captain, told the Tampa Bay Times.
“You are not even allowed to bring it in the boat, you have to leave it in the water,” Maisano told ABC News. If a great white is killed, there could be a fine of $25,000 to $40,000.
Marchese, who was visiting from Canada, will go back with memories.
"Just the vision of seeing that head -- it's massive. That's what I'm going to remember most," Marchese said.