Hammerhead Shark Circles Offshore Kayak Anglers (Video)

Big ocean predator is drawn to blood from their catch

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Sharks are a pesky fact of life for saltwater anglers, but it’s not too often that you end up in the sights of a hungry hammerhead. That’s exactly what happened to Devin O’Dea and Larry Laumann from Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, who share their footage from a fishing adventure off La Jolla, California. Believe it or not, the shark is only the second-scariest thing in this video. Read on for the life-threatening detail that may escape your notice.

Square in the Sights of a Hammerhead

O’Dea and Laumann describe their trip as follows:

“After a sketchy launch due to 3-4 ft swells and a high tide crashing on the reef and cliffs, [the anglers] headed approximately 3 miles out to chase bluefin and yellowtail. They caught spanish mackerel with sabiki rigs on the way out for bait, landed a few rockfish and ended up hooking up with a big yellowtail.”

The yellowtail is a beauty, and a beast to land because its head is awkwardly snagged. The anglers work together to get the fish gaffed and into O’Dea’s boat—and just in time. “Big shark fin,” O’Dea points out as it surfaces mere feet from his boat. “Big hammerhead!” Laumann adds, using his underwater camera to capture some great close-up footage.

kayak angler sees the fin of a hammerhead shark after catching a yellowtail
“You got blood coming right off your kayak and he is all over it. … He’s big, dude.” | Image: Backcountry Hunters & Anglers/YouTube

“Well, we’ve got some mackerel,” Laumann jokes, “want to catch a big hammerhead?”

“No, I think I’ve had my thrill!” replies O’Dea, and the two turn for shore.

The shark is undeterred, continuing to circle and bump their boats. “With the yellowtail’s blood dripping out of the kayak,” the video describes, “the hammerhead followed them over a mile on their pedal back to shore.”

What’s Scarier Than A Hungry Hammerhead?

The most dangerous part of this trip is not the shark encounter, but rather the lack of safety gear worn by either angler. Whatever your skill level, a properly fitted PFD is the most important piece of safety equipment on any kayaking trip. Wearing a PFD is even more essential for offshore anglers, who must contend with storms, swells and changing tides among other marine threats.

To learn how to properly outfit yourself for such a trip, see our recent video post on Must-Have Safety Gear For Offshore Kayak Fishing. As for hammerhead sharks, you’re on your own!


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  1. Offshore – storm coming – big hammerhead – no life jacket on either paddler or visible on the deck of either kayak. Not something I think Kayak Angler should support.


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