A toothy shark came thrashing violently out of the water a few feet from Oahu-based kayak angler Isaac Brumaghim on April 7, momentarily startling the experienced waterman. The big fish wasn’t after Brumaghim—it wanted a taste of the kawakawa tuna on the end of his line.
“Here are some photo grabs of a fun day I had with my pet shark Chompy! I am still trying to teach him how to catch kawakawas in the air,” the unperturbed Brumaghim joked on Facebook when he posted the remarkable series of photos. That he looks more momentarily surprised than afraid is little shock.
Brumaghim initially said he believed it was a Galapagos shark, but subsequent reports suggest it might have been a tiger.
Brumaghim knew something was strange before the shark made it’s airborne appearance. The line felt heavy. The fish came to color, a shape behind it. Brumaghim said what he was seeing took time to process. “What’s this thing ? Oh, a shark. It didn’t register right away. It looked like it was sniffing the kawakawa’s tail,” he remembered.
The jumping shark missed its target. Brumaghim quickly reeled the kawakawa to his kayak, and vigorously shook it off the hook. At that point, the shark turned, swam under the kayak bumping it as it went by, and then ate the unlucky kawakawa.
Brumaghim said the shark had been "taxing" his Aquahunters.com kayak fishing crew all day—it's nothing unusual or even all that bothersome. "It's the ocean. Sharks live in the ocean. You're in his domain. You get a fish, a shark might eat it. I'm not mad at it," Brumaghim said.
After the encounter, he went back to fishing, ultimately decking another 18-pound kawakawa and a shibi. He was back out again on Tuesday. "Sharks didn't cross my mind once. I'm more worried about whales jumping or the current sucking me down to the point. Sharks bite off my fish every other day. It's never stopped me if the bite is hot," he said. The Aquahunters encounter sharks nearly every time they venture onto Hawaii’s blue water. It’s no big deal to these world-class kayak anglers.
Risk doesn’t enter into the equation. Kayak fishing is what they do. “I love to fish, to eat my fish, to share my fish. This is the purest way of doing it. It’s a little bit reckless, but so is crossing the street. Or flying on a plane. You’re not in control. Everything in the world is a little reckless,” he said.
Brumaghim was surprised his Facebook photos went viral so quickly. He said his photo series had been shared more than 1,800 times in two days. That was nothing compared to the wildfire that is his video. In its first 24 hours, it racked up nearly a million views. Brumaghim has been inundated by a flood of publicity. His story has appeared on CNN, NPR, MSN, the UK’s Mirror, HuffPo, well, virtually everywhere. He’s wary of sensationalism.
"I want people to get past the shark and catch up on what the Aquahunters have done the past few years. I want it to bring more life to Hawaii kayak fishing. Our athletes can get a little more notoriety for what we do," he said.
It could happen. Video of an infamous (and hilarious) “goosing” boosted Drew Gregory into kayak fishing fame. Gregory is now a creative design force for Jackson Kayak.
Aquahunters members hold several kayak fishing all-tackle records including the reigning heaviest solo paddle-out catch, Andy Cho's 225-pound blue marlin caught in 2010.
For more on Hawaii's kayak anglers, visit http://www.aquahunters.com/.