Seas lion Scare

Sea lion Scare

Has anyone ever had any confrontations with sea lions?

I was out in about 4 feet of water on the canal, up by Lofall. The tide was going out and I was trying to fish as close the the drop off as I could. I was casting a candle fish candy, hoping to hook a coho, when I heard a sea lion blow about 150 yards away. He was swimming south along the edge of the deep water, heading my direction. He would dive, then surface and blow loudly. It was fascinating to see. I love observing wildlife in their environment doing their thing. I watched him as he got closer, all the while casting and stripping. He was a huge male, easily 1000 lbs. When he got perpendicular to my position, he was submerged. I noticed a slight disturbance on the surface of the water about 80 yards away. It was moving towards me, in a straight line, slow at first, gradually speeding up. It became more and more pronounced the closer it got. At 20 yards away it looked like the wake created by a submarine. I'm now back peddling as fast as I can through the 4 feet deep water, trying not to fall over and fill my waders, realizing how vulnerable I am. At 10 yards away, the bow wave racing to me was like a scene from 'Jaws', you know the one where Sheriff Brody is on the flying bridge watching as Bruce goes under the Orca. I started furiously slapping my rod on the surface of the water, scrambling backwards to get back to the shallows. He finally turned at 10 feet with a massive splash and fired back the way he came. My adrenaline peaked shortly after, as I stood there wondering what the heck that was all about. Mistaken identity? Territorial dispute? Huh!. Did I mention how much I love watching wildlife doing their thing? What a rush!


Connor H

Bobbers n Beadz
WOW! Not a fun situation to get in to! While on my grandpa's bulkhead on Gig Harbor I had to postpone my fishing for over an hour because the lion was sittin' on a chair watchin my every move! I was scared shitless!!!
Holy smokes, Kerfwaffie! I bet you about shit your waders! :rofl:.

I saw two this morning booking over to a bait ball, birds were feeding like crazy and these two Sea Lions were moving it out over towards it. Didn't see them catch any fish, but they made a ruckus for sure. Pretty cool to see... I'm glad I didn't get as close as you! :)

Are these monstrs malevolent ?Or just dangerous b/c they are huge? I remember canoeing the sound as a kid and huge sealions swmming alongside and not feeling like there was danger... Maybe I was naïve?
I grew up surfing in southern CA.. I had just seen the newly released movie Jaws the night before. It was an overcast morning and it was hard to see into the water which made me even more nervous. There was a strong swell running and I was paddleing hard to get outside the break zone between sets when I center punched a very large sea lion right behind its right shoulder. The water erupted in front of me as it whipped around to bite me. I put my board up between our faces and fended off the attack. I did get a real good look into its mouth and remember thinking of a very large vicious dog with black spots all over its gums and BIG teeth and bad breath. Its head hit the bottom of the board so hard it knocked me away from it. Then he was gone. Yeah it was awesome!!

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
On several occasions while we were fishing for sea run cutthroat or salmon on the beaches in autumn and early winter we have had these seals come at us this way, in very shallow water. My feeling is that it is similar to a Bear's bluff charge; a territorial behavior that is just short of physical contact. The animal is telling you that you are too close, the are delineating their boundary with you. It should be obvious that if they wanted to do so they could easily cripple or kill you doing this. When the big seals show up we make sure that we are in less than knee deep water, or we simply get out and walk up the beach a few yards. For one thing we are safer. For another, compared to their daily struggle for food and survival, our fly fishing game is a vain hobby. Our local seals in Puget Sound are nothing to trifle with either, especially when there are pups around. Give them a lot of room.

Ethan G.

I do science.. on fish..
iagree That's all us Poulsbo guys want to know! :rofl: Any cutts around? Last time I was up there I didn't see anything.

Anyway, so as not to hijack this thread... My brother ran into that elephant seal that ended up at Point-No-Point a few seasons ago.

Also, it might seem like it was headed for you, but my theory would be that it was chasing fish. I've witnessed it many times. They try to get the fish into shallow water and backed up "against the wall" so to speak. Most likely the fish it was chasing swam right between your legs, the seal saw you and turned to avoid a collision. That's what comes to mind when I hear something like that. I seriously doubt it was any kind of threatening action toward your person. That's not to say it wouldn't scare the shit out of me, though!
As far as catching anything that day, no such luck. I was fishing the wrong tide. I misread the tide chart, and ended up spend the time studying the ground structure instead. I have caught a few cutts there, the last one was about 16 inches a couple of weeks ago.

About the only things a sea lion will expend that much energy on are food and sex. How were you dressed?

We used to spear fish a lot up in Neah Bay. When you shoot a fish, it's placed on a big SS stringer that is attached to the divers body. Blood spoor ensues. One day off the breakwater by Tatoosh, my buddy was mugged by a sea lion in about 20 feet of depth. It first made a close pass and took a tug at the ling cod Todd was sporting back by his kidneys. He managed to spring the clip and slide the remaining fishes off his belt to the brute, which grabbed the biggest one and shot off. We saw the whole thing from the boat, and were just glad he wasn't wearing cologne.
You may think that the story I 'm about to tell is 'BS', but my son and I had numerous 'close encounters' with giant sea lions, while fly fishing from our dingy in Redondo Harbor, CA.

These sea lions were very well practiced at stealing our fish, instead of catching their own. They could spot a Bonito 'lighting up' from 200 yards away and swoop in and grab it, then swim off with it at top speed. All we could do is hang on, as the sea lions peeled line off our screaming reels while eating the Bonito 'on the go', until nothing was left, but the head.

Some days this would happen multiple times, despite our attempts to stay away from the sea lions. Occasionaly, they would see us landing a fish and then nearly run into our boat as they came partially out of the water to take it before we lifted it flopping, over the gunnel. (The first time this happened, I nearly soiled myself, while standing in the dingy, as it bobbed up and down on the wake left behind by a swirling sea lion.)

As dangerously close as they came to our boat, they always averted ramming it. So after experiencing this for a couple of years, we became quite accustomed to having sea lions at close quarters and we gained a measured amount of trust in the reliability of their behavior. However, we always tried to avoid them if possible.

The specticle of these 'fish stealing sea lions' became a common scene on the harbor, for anglers and crowds of tourists alike. Everyone would stop and watch with amasement, as they chased, charged and chewed up the fish at the end of a fisherman's line.

But then one day, the inevitable happened. A sea lion got too greedy with a fish that my son had hooked and ended up with a 2/0 Lefty's Deciever in it's lower lip. Before we knew it, the thing was charging away from us with 90 ft. of fly line, 200+ ft. of backing and our dingy in tow!

As our boat started moving, my 14 year old son nervously asked me, "What should I do Dad?"
"Tighten the drag down and break him off." I replied.

But even with the drag bottomed out, the 20 lb. Maxima tippet held tight to the hook. The Bimini Twist on the tippet also held and so did the Nail Knot connecting the leader butt to the fly line. So our boat continued to leave a wake behind it, as the giant sea lion pulled us around the harbor.

[Now you may be wondering why I didn't drop our anchor to increase the tension on the line so that it might break, or just cut the line and forget about it... or you may be thinking that I was crazy for continuing this chase, especially with my young son in a little 10 ft. dingy with me... but, throughout this encounter the sea lion never turned on us or acted aggressive in any way. If he had done so, I would have cut the line in a heartbeat!]

Seeing what was happening, other fishermen started to cheer from their boats and from the jetty, "Hang on kid!"

Then, a few tourists gathering on the pier cried out, "Cut the line, you're hurting him!!!"

And my son, again asked, "What should I do Dad?"
"Ignore the screeming crowds." I said, "just hold on until he gets tired, then start reeling."

After what seemed like an eternity, the sea lion stopped swimming away from us, so I turned on the electfic trolling motor and moved us cautiously toward him, as my son regained his line.

As we continued to approached the sea lion, he made no further effort to swim away and finally was within a rod length of the boat. At this moment, I took the fly rod from my son and while holding the line tight with my left hand, I pushed the rod tip down the leader with my right hand, all the way to the bend of the barbless hook. Then with a slight lift of the rod, the fly backed out of the sea lion's lower lip and he was free.

As the sea lion felt the release of pressure from the hook, he simply rolled around and swam away.

Although I'm sure the sea lion was tired at the time of release, he was not panting or listing or acting any worse for wear. I doubt that he was any further from recovery than a large fish after a good fight. And despite the trauma of the struggle, I believe he was better off without a stainless steel hook and nearly 300 feet of line dragging from his lip. So in the end, given the circumstances, I think we did the right thing. But as I turned to my trusting son and handed him the fly rod, he said, "Don't you think we should call it a day Dad?"

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
I'd say that was well done by both your son and you. Screw the tourists. So you and your boy can claim that this was actually landed since you used the rod tip to release the hook. Not many could claim that feat!