Editor’s Note: Kayaker fights shark! There were a lot of epic stories to come out of the James Lebowitz Memorial Kayak Tournament held in La Jolla the weekend after Labor Day. Few were more engaging Kevin Nakada’s tale of tangling with a mako shark in order to get a qualifying yellowtail into the boat so he would have something to weigh in at the event. Along with the video above, Kevin offered up the details to Kayak Fish Mag:
By Kevin Nakada
This is the first time a mako or any shark for that matter has chomped onto one of my catches. It is a very rare thing to happen in La Jolla, but I'm sure that in other places in the world it is common place.
The background story to this whole incident:
This 6-foot mako was following me and bumping into the Pro Angler for about 5 minutes. This isn't something new to me, as I have had several small makos follow, bump and nibble the kayaks. Funnily enough, he came up to the side of the kayak and right when he bit the kayak the first time I got bit on my live bait. I set the hook into the fish that just bit my bait and it was on.
The entire time I was fighting the fish the mako continued to follow the kayak. In the back of my mind, I kept on thinking, "It would really be bad if this was my only tournament fish to bring to the weigh in, and I lost it because of this mako." When the fish was vertical and being winched up to the kayak, it started freaking out and acting squirrelly.
The yellowtail stayed under the kayak the entire time and then proceeded to wrap the line around the MirageDrive. It happened to fast for me to pull the MirageDrive out and get the line off the fins. Within those couple of seconds, the fish broke off and was free to swim wherever it wanted too. DAMN!
I was a little miffed by the ONLY strike I had all day on tournament day taken away from me in the blink of an eye. I had my gaff in hand still hoping that maybe, just maybe the shark would chase the yellowtail back boatside. Wouldn't you know the shark did just that! He chased the broken off yellowtail right to the kayak and I gaffed the sprinting yellowtail right next to the kayak. The mako was right on its tail when I gaffed the fish and grabbed on the belly for what could have been the best meal he would have ever had. He would not let go! For a good two minutes (enough time to grab my phone and record the situation) the shark was latched on. If I would have brought the yellowtail into the kayak, the mako would be coming in too.
It finally let go. But I'm sure that the shark was a little irritated his meal was swept up into the sky. He chomped on the plastic, swam around and I gave him a back rub. I was not terrified by the situation. It was just an awesome day on the water enjoying the best of what Southern California fishing has to offer.
PS. If you are wondering why I wasn’t trying to catch the shark, I'm not really a shark catching kind of guy.
The small mako shark goes back to trying to take a chunk out of Kevin Nakada’s Hobie after losing out on a yellowtail tug of war! Photo Kevin Nakada