La Jolla  Shark

by John F. Pawlak

On December 15, 2002 Jimm Hoffman and myself working together as a team caught and landed a 51 pound, 5’4” long shark from a 56-pound kayak.

I launched from the shores at 6:30 AM and paddled west out to the kelp were I was soon joined by my good friend Jimm Hoffman, a 48-year-old, veteran ocean kayak fisherman and business owner from Rancho Bernardo, CA, paddling a Cobra Fish “n” Dive. There on the edges of the kelp and near the surface we watched the sun rise while catching several 6” to 12” smelt for bait.

In 80’ to 90’ foot of water and right in front of the high rise (see the red target) we dropped our baits down to the bottom and began drifting west with the wind.  I was using a 20 lb P-Line top shot with 30lb Triline backing on a Penn reel.  I was spooled once the weekend before in this same spot, and sawed off three times. At that time I wasn’t hunting shark, but was instead looking for halibut.


After about an hour my clicker went off and I set the hook immediately.  The fish ran straight for the canyon and up towards the surface.  As line peeled out I was quickly into my backing and it was going fast.  As long as the fish was heading into deeper water and away from the kelp I was content to point my rod tip towards the bow and enjoy a kayak fisherman’s sleigh ride, and RIDE WEEEE DID!!!.  After 30 minutes of this the shark headed back to the kelp and as we neared the kelp I decided that it was time to put on the breaks.  I threw out the drift chute and we slowed considerably.  The shark responded by diving to the bottom.  The fight was now entirely vertical.   Big circles that got smaller as I pumped her up a foot or two and reeling in the slack.  After about an hour of this I finally saw color and if the shark had broken off right then I would have honestly estimated the weight to be near 100 lbs.

I got on the radio “OK Jimm! I got it up now what the hell do we do?”  About this time a private fishing boat was passing through and so we waved them down and ask if they would give us a hand landing the shark.  The captain agreed and they got close enough to get a good look at the shark.  After seeing the shark the captain said “Your own your own boys” He put the throttle down a rooster tail is the last we saw from him.
Jimm and I decided to land it our selves.  Jimm rigged up a flying gaff and when he stuck that fish it went absolutely ballistic, but the Fish “n” Dive is an incredibly stable platform to land bigger fish from and working together as a team we were able to eventually get the shark on deck and tied down.

This experience taught me a lot about fighting and landing sharks. If you’re like me and want to some day catch sharks, than this is a good one to start with.....they don’t jump and their teeth are small.  

After comparing data from shark research information gathered online, we concluded that the species of shark was a Soupfin.

Eagle Eye