Leffingwell launch pad: Joey Nocchi surfs in days before his shark smack, the first at the site. It has happened again.

Leffingwell launch pad: Joey Nocchi surfs in days before his shark smack, the first at the site. It has happened again. Photo: Paul Lebowitz

Great White Strikes California Kayak Angler
Throws kayak and angler five feet into the air
By Paul Lebowitz

A great white shark tossed a California angler and his kayak four to five feet into the air the day before Christmas according to a post on the Big Waters Edge forum.

‘FlyYaker’ was guiding his brother in law on a rockfishing trip off Leffingwell Landing, Cambria, Central California. The pair had just paddled through the inshore kelp into 74 feet of water, the brother in law trailing on his borrowed kayak some 20 feet behind FlyYaker, when the shark hit.

“I hear a loud thump and see my kayak, my brother in law, and various items on the deck flying up into the air. All being pushed upward by about three and a half feet of shark head. It was not a huge shark by any means, but when it launches a 6-foot, 4-inch guy four to five feet into the air with his kayak, it is big enough,” FlyYaker writes in his post reporting the incident.

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The brother in law, shaken but unhurt, climbed quickly back onto his overturned kayak. That’s when FlyYaker noticed the tooth holes on the bottom of the boat.

FlyYaker brought his brother in law aboard his Fish N Dive. “I was glad for once to be in the beast,” he said.

They righted the damaged kayak and paddled the mile back to Leffingwell, with the leaky kayak in tow.

“Quite a work out for sure, we had the beast maxxed out,” FlyYaker wrote.

They still had to cross the surf zone, two big guys on an overloaded kayak. “The last reentry of the day was clean and except for the rubber legs and fatigue all went smooth,” FlyYaker said.

The strike was the second in 19 months off Leffingwell Landing, Cambria, in Central California. A great white tossed Joey Nocchi from his kayak in May 2012. After years with no incidents, Leffingwell has now joined Bean Hollow State Beach some 200 miles north as a recurring shark strike site. Both are within a few miles of large elephant seal rookeries.

Save for Leffingwell, all California great white shark hits have occurred in the summer months. Leffingwell, at the far south end of the state’s so-called Red Triangle, now has the distinction of hosting the earliest and latest attacks in the season.

Although dramatic, no great white shark on kayak angler incident has caused serious injuries. The kayak literally takes the hit.