Fisherman fights off 4.5m tiger shark

DIETER Danowski was prepared to fight for his 22kg Spanish mackerel, even if it meant battling it out with a tiger shark.

The recreational spear fisherman from Yeppoon came face to face with a 4.5 metre maneater, after catching his biggest Spanish mackerel minutes earlier.

But for the 42-year-old, it was not the first time he had come into contact with a shark.

"I've had bull sharks take fish from my spear while holding the spear in my hand, a bronze whaler shark going for my 16kg queenfish and three weeks ago a decent shark that bit my large barracuda in half,'' he said.

"You never get used to it, but it's the beauty and activity of the ocean that keeps me coming back.''

What started out as a fun fishing trip with his brother Dirk one sunny December day at Outer Rock, 13km north-east of Great Keppel Island, turned into an adventure the pair would never forget.

His brother had travelled from Germany to visit him and had no experience of snorkelling or diving before that day.

Mr Danowski said his brother snorkelled close to the rocks while he set off 12 metres under the water resting on the sandy ocean floor.

All of a sudden he spotted a grey-silver shape in the distance.

"Whack, my spear got him,'' he said as his hands collided describing his moment of glory.

"The mackerel shivered and fell over to its side as I pulled myself close to the fish and there I realised just how big it was.''

Stunned by the size of the fish, Mr Danowski said it was not long before he and the mackerel were surrounded by a dense cloud of blood two metres wide.

Five metres from reaching the surface and he could sense danger.

"My gut feeling was 100% correct, there was movement below me,'' he said.

"I could make out a box head and black-vertical stripes.''

Mr Danowski said the tiger shark's head was about a metre wide.

"My heart doubled its pulse, but I was prepared to fight for my fish,'' he said.

"The tiger shark made its first pass looking at me with its big, left eye.''

He said he used the barrel of his gun and touched its gills to push himself away from the beast.

"The shark made a 180 degree turn and came from the side, so I shoved my gun for a second time into its head, propelling me and the big mack towards my boat, but the bad news was that my shooting line got entangled in the shark's fin.''

While fending off the shark, Mr Danowski lost his weight belt, knife and spear gun worth $500.

"It took me one second and I was in my boat landing on top of my mackerel,'' he said.

Relieved to be safe and out of the water, Mr Danowski realised his brother was still snorkelling around the rocks about 30 metres away from the boat.

"I yelled over to him 'Shark', but he didn't hear me,'' he said.

"I drove the boat right next to him and yelled again 'tiger shark', bearing in mind that my brother had never seen a shark in real life.''

Mr Danowski said his brother Dirk swam frantically toward the ladder on the boat.

With not one second wasted, he grabbed his brother on his wrist and arm, pulled him into the boat where he landed belly first on the mackerel.

Mr Danowski said he tried to relax his pale-faced brother. "I was asking him 'Dirk, what do you think? How long is it?' but he couldn't speak to me.''

"I went back into the water and found my speargun and my weight belt close by, but I couldn't find my knife,'' he said.

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