SHOCK turned to excitement in an instant last Sunday for Nathan Lenard when he hauled in a set line near Clarence River fishing hotspot Browns Rocks and saw he had landed an almost four-metre potential man eater - a notorious bull shark.
A professional fisherman, Mr Lenard said he had been trying to catch a big bull shark for nine years since he started fishing the river in 2002.
When he pulled up to the locating buoy which had three hooks baited with fish attached, Mr Lenard said he never expected a double hook-up.
"We got one shark that was about six foot first then we kept pulling the line more and we got the big one," he said.
"We were all shocked, there were three of us in the boat and we were all yahooing and just couldn't believe how big it was."
As the shark was too big to haul into his six metre punt, Mr Lenard towed it to shore with his boat.
"When I got it to shore I jumped out of the boat, walked out in the water and grabbed its tail and dragged it up onto the boat ramp."
After being attached to the hook overnight, Mr Lenard said the shark was alive, but only just.
He then hauled the shark up the boat ramp with his four-wheel drive before taking it home to process and sell.
Almost a week after hauling the monster out of what he estimated was three metres of water, 20 metres from shore, Mr Lenard had a clear message to people considering swimming in the river: "Don't do it."
"I would never swim in the river, especially after this," he said. Nearly every week, Mr Lenard said, he spots sharks as he motors down the river to check his lines.
"When you are driving your boat down the river you see them jump out of the water," he said.
"I would say they are all mostly bull sharks."
Mr Lenard kept the shark's jaws as a souvenir, but sold the body.
According to research by the Australian Museum conducted this year, the bull shark is one of the few sharks potentially dangerous to people.
The species is also the only widely distributed shark that stays in fresh water for long periods of time to feed and breed.
Females sometimes give birth in river mouths where the young will live for up to 5 years.