A fisherman was left gobsmacked after realizing the ‘whopper’ he was fighting to reel in was in fact, a Great White Shark.

Joel Gray was out with friends, fishing off the coast of the Bay of Plenty, on New Zealand’s North Island, when the incident occurred.

Joel told Stuff:

“Me and my mate were out the day before in kayaks in the same spot.

Never seen one before around here, only baby hammerheads or bronze whalers. It was an exciting experience.

The people were all pretty freaked out and amazed at the same time as they’d been swimming there not long ago.

They were locals and said they have never seen a great white around before that day.”

Great White Shark | Shane Myers

After fighting against the weight of the rod for several minutes, the fish jumped out the water and revealed itself to be a great white.

Understandably Joel and other onlookers were shocked.

The shark breached the water several times in attempts to break the line, as seen in a video Gray posted online.

Fisherman accidentally hooks Great White Shark

The great white appeared to be a juvenile, at around 2.5m long, only around a third of its ultimate adult size.

Despite this, the predator was still strong enough to snap the fishing line and free itself, but not before breaching the water 6 times.

Great white shark full breach

The incident occurred only days after New Zealand‘s Department of Conservation released a public warning due to increased sharks sightings in the area.

The department’s marine expert Clinton Duffy said:

“If you are visiting the ocean you need to be a little bit vigilant of what’s happening around you and swim where there are surf lifesaving patrols, and don’t swim or dive alone.

If you are heading out on the water exercise caution and avoid swimming in the main channels where there are a lot of birds diving or belaying from kayaks and jet skis when fishing.”

Last year saw upwards of 71 individual reports of great white shark attacks on humans, with a reported total of 8 fatalities worldwide, according to the Mirror.

One of the ocean’s apex predators, great whites boast huge mouths filled with 300 teeth arranged in seven razor-sharp rows.

They have evolved an incredible sense of smell, allowing them to pinpoint a single drop of blood in more than 100 litres of water.

Featured Image Credit: Joel Gray