Kayak Angler Watches As Shark Attacks His Tarpon (Video)

A close encounter with the monsters prowling the Florida shallows

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It’s a tale as old as angling. You are in the fight of your life with a trophy fish, only to have it robbed by the jaws of a shark. John Skinner experienced this firsthand when he was in an endless fight, only to witness a shark attack his tarpon.

When Sharks Attack Tarpon

In the dawn hours of a spring day, John Skinner is motoring across the still waters in his Old Town Autopilot kayak to seek out tarpon. Late-April is early for the tarpon run in Florida, and Skinner isn’t holding his breath for any action, until he comes across a school surface feeding.

Skinner hooks up with what looks to be a five-foot tarpon. In his video, he is in an endless battle with the fish. The tarpon jumps to the surface multiple times, shaking its head in the visual maneuver tarpon are known for. But it’s the long runs which keep the fight between Skinner and tarpon ongoing.

The moment a shark attacks John Skinner's tarpon.
Image: John Skinner/YouTube

Then, without warning, a shark attacks the tarpon. A smash of whitewater, the shark’s body thrashing across the surface, and Skinner’s fight is over. After an initial reaction, Skinner sits a moment in silence as the water quiets, as if nothing happened.

What Kind of Monsters Prowl the Florida Shallows?

Skinner reels in a severed tarpon head still attached to his hook. He lays what he has left, about three feet of the fish, across his lap.

The size of the shark that took half his tarpon shocks Skinner.

Man holding severed tarpon.
Feature image: John Skinner/YouTube

“Look, I’m not in Boca Grande here,” Skinners says, “I’m in six feet of water.”

“What kind of shark can do that? I’m guessing a bull.”

Skinner’s guess is a good one. Bull sharks, along with greater hammerheads, are both known to roam shallow waters and enjoy a good tarpon meal. Something for kayak anglers to keep in mind, there is always a bigger fish nearby.


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    • Sharks are fast swimmers, if you watch closely, you’ll see the shark swimming under Skinner’s kayak a second or two before it eats that tarpon. It’s hard to see it, but it did.

  1. Where in SW FL were you. Not asking for exact spot, but (Tampa, Ft Meyers, Naples) just general location.

    Great video, thanks


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