SOUTH PORTLAND — Retired charter captain Mike Jancovic has one favorite fish he likes to play on a line more than any other: the mako shark.

“It is an exciting fish to catch. They’ll jump six times and 16 feet in the air, doing back flips,” said Jancovic, a former Maine shark fishing guide, as a broad smile spread across his tan face.

But as Jancovic, of Belgrade, volunteered at a sport fishing tournament at Spring Point Marina two weeks ago, he considered the one question all shark fans ask: “What about the great white?”

In his 15 years guiding off the coast of Maine, Jancovic said he only has seen one white shark. And Jancovic is very exact in his details of marine life and fishing-trip memories.

When did you get into saltwater guiding?

When I started in 1998, it took right off. There weren’t a whole bunch of charter boat captains back then. The fishing was easier. You could take a family out striper fishing for four hours and you’d get 12 to 24 fish. That was then. Now there is a new norm. I know a guide in Casco Bay and some days he doesn’t catch any. And he’s really good.

How did you get into guiding for sharks?

I started chartering for shark trips the following season. I’d guide for groundfish in May, and then June and July was mostly striped bass fishing, and then August and September and into October was tuna and sharks. The tuna charters were the smallest part. I’d have to tell people there is no guarantee we’d catch a tuna. With a tuna, your chances are not that good. They were going for the experience. But with sharks, I could guarantee we’d catch one. We’d catch blue sharks, the occasional mako, threshers, porbeagle.

And so in 15 years did you ever see a great white shark?

Once in the early ’90s, a shark 8 feet long went by my boat. I’m certain it was a great white, because of the teeth. A mako’s teeth are more pointy. A great white’s teeth are triangular in shape. They swim with their mouths open, so I could see its teeth. It was pretty cool.

In Massachusetts there is the largest colony of gray seals on the East Coast. That’s the great white shark’s favorite food. As the seal population has been protected and grown, the white shark population (which is also protected) has grown.

I bring this up because the second largest gray seal population is on Seal Island off Matinicus Island. There are tuna fleets that fish 30 miles off the coast. Maybe they see more, because they have more eyes on the water. In 15 years I’ve only seen one. But there is no reason to think they are not in our waters. They are in our dooryard.

People say they see sharks by Old Orchard Beach but my guess is that 99 percent of the time they are basking sharks, the second-largest shark. They are harmless.

I do think (great whites) come in close, but I think until someone is attacked by a shark we won’t know.

I always wondered if the Peaks to Portland annual swim, all that early-morning activity kicking up the water, would bring them out.

(Laughs) I wouldn’t hold that event off Cape Cod! But my granddaughter is a surfer at York Beach. She is 13, and I don’t worry about her in the water.

Where do you think most great white sharks in the Gulf of Maine are?

Probably around the seal colony off Seal Island. But those are just my thoughts. There are no satellite tags on them. There is so much we don’t know about some fish species.

Do you miss guiding after retiring last year?

I do a little, but not as much as I thought. I live on a lake, and I like fishing. So I fish more freshwater now. I thought for sure retiring from guiding would be one of the top 10 worst things in my life. But I guess I was ready for it at 63.

Two weeks after this interview, Jancovic left a voice message to tell another story – a great white shark report he remembered:

A fisherman who was fishing for pollock probably five years ago told me this: He was hauling in his gill net and a 7-to-8-foot great white was in the net. It was still alive and he released it after taking pictures of it. So yeah, there are great white sharks in the Gulf of Maine, for sure.