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By Steve Breazeale
As the managing chef of the newly opened The Shack on San Clemente Pier, San Clemente resident Rocky Neidhardt has seen a lot of strange sea life reeled in by anglers off the San Clemente Pier. On June 28, Neidhardt witnessed the most bizarre encounter between man and fish he’s seen to-date.
Neidhardt saw a fisherman, identified by the Orange County Register as Ben Buell, hook and grapple with an eight-foot great white shark.
As word spread of the catch Neidhardt, along with dozens of other Pier-goers, watched the angler battle with the fish for some time.
“I looked out there and was like ‘Wow, this is crazy’. I walked to the railing and looked down and sure enough there was an eight-foot great white,” Neidhardt said. “The thing fought the guy all the way up and down the Pier about nine times.”
Multiple posts on a Facebook page attributed to Buell showed photos and comments from Buell confirming he was the fisherman who hooked the great white.
Neidhardt said there was some debate on the Pier as to whether the shark was a mako or a great white. After closely inspecting the photos he took that day, Neidhardt is confident it was a great white.
“I was about 20 feet from the shark. I could see it had great white teeth, not the traditional ragged teeth of a mako,” Neidhardt said. “It was definitely big and it was definitely intense.”
The shark eventually broke free of the line and swam away, Neidhardt said.
Ian Burton, a San Clemente marine safety officer, said there was no report made regarding a great white sighting that day. There was a report filed about a five to six-foot thresher shark spotted off the Pier at midday.
Buell could not be reached for this story.
Check back to www.sanclementetimes.com for updates on this story.