I am checking out rumor of local GWS sighting

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
I heard a disturbing rumor from what is usually a reliable source, and I have yet to talk to the person who actually saw this purported event. At this point, it is only a rumor.

Sunday afternoon at around high tide, the surf was still pretty big, but was breaking clean enough to lure a couple of the local chargers out at "The Corner" (the main jetty bowl wave here in Westport at Westhaven State Park).

I was at the beach there later in the afternoon, but arrived after the surfing was over. Stopped in the local market on the way home and ran into my friend Matty, who is the owner of Steepwater Surf Co. He told me the following story:
A local named Tay, one of the surfers that was out, got his board snapped in two on a big wave and swam in with the half that was still leashed to his leg. He went up on the Jetty to see if he could locate the broken piece. He noticed a seal or sea lion outside where he was just surfing, and then, suddenly, witnessed a Great White Shark come blasting out of the water, taking the seal!!!:eek: He said it came all the way out of the water, like in those dramatic pics we often see in the mags.
Matty told me that Tay said it was really huge. Another local surfer, a ripper named Brian who was surfing with Tay, may also have seen the shark. I haven't spoken to either surfer, yet, since they both have day jobs and were working yesterday. I got this all from Matty, second hand.
All three of these men are experienced surfers, and can get all the waves they want, even on crowded days, so there's no reason for any of them to start a baseless rumor. Matty probably doesn't want to scare any potential customers away...he rents surfboards from his shop. (I think that might even be his biggest source of revenue).
I'm going to try to find Tay this afternoon after he gets off work and get the skinny from the horse's mouth.


Active Member
i want to hear more about this. if this is true then i am going to save my money for a 20wt if they make it lol. But in seriousness thanks for the heads up.

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
OK, I just finished talking to the two local guys (Tay and Kevin) who were on the scene. The surfer who was closest to the action was someone unknown to me, and from Oregon. I'll call him Org.

Tay and Org were out at the Jetty peak known as "the Corner" surfing the large waves (overhead, about 8' + on the sets. Org was riding a shortboard, and Tay was on his 9' longboard.

Tay told me that he was inside the impact zone for a set of larger incoming waves and paddling furiously to get outside. Org was outside trying to line up on a wave, for take-off.
As Tay paddled over the top of a wave, he saw the sea lion getting blasted up into the air. He described it as "cartwheeling." He said he saw a large dark form under it, and that it looked like it happened right next to where Org was sitting...about 80 yards outside of Tay.
Tay got drilled by the big set, which also snapped his board in two.
As Tay was struggling to swim in with half a surfboard, Org yelled at him "Get the Hell in to the beach NOW!!!
These were the only two surfers out.

Kevin was observing through binoculars, but he was watching Tay getting drilled by the set, and the attack was out of his field of view. Kevin had been thinking of suiting up and paddling out, but it looked a bit gnarly and he had decided to just watch.
Tay made it in with half a board (he said that a swim had never taken so long...), and Org had caught a wave in and was soon exiting the water as well.
Org supposedly said something like, "I've been surfing the Great White infested waters between Humboldt and here for over 15 years and I've never seen anything so f*@#ing terrifying as that! I'm just glad the sea lion was there!"
He said he was looking at an incoming wave, lining up for takeoff, and the attack occured right next to him. He saw the shark out of the corner of his eye and said it was a huge dark thing.

Later, Kevin was searching the area with his binocs from the berm, hoping to find the broken half of Tay's board. He saw a seal or sea lion freak out and practically tail-walk across the surface and then haul out on the rocks.
A tourist couple found the broken half of Tay's board washed in on the beach, and gave it back to Kevin, who returned it to Tay.
Kevin told me that he was going to wait a while before surfing again. He lives here.
Tay will be back out as soon as he sees some good waves.
Kevin said that Org exclaimed, "That was really f*#@%ed! I'm outa here! You guys can have this place!"

That's my best effort at "rumor control." Sure as hell, I ain't no journalist. But, by contrasting this with the second hand version I first got from Matty, you can see how running down the actual people on the scene of an event can give you a better idea of what happened.

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
I'm thinking that the criminally exorbitant price of a "shark wire" suddenly doesn't look so steep any more.:confused: Its a wonderful little black box thingy that trails an antenna wire thru a scupper hole, and which emits an electric field that causes confusion and discomfort to the Great White Shark's sensitive organic radar (called "Ampules of Lorenzini") so that it turns away at the last instant. That "last instant" is defined as the last ten feet (and closing) under your unsuspecting ass. Perhaps this is the most gratifying "refusal" attainable, eh?

Probably not a good idea to yak fish in the ocean alone, but last year, 80% of my jetty fishing from my yak was solo. That's because none of my local friends kayak fish, or even paddle. I paddled out with some visitors a couple of times. Once, the other yak fishers were about 3 or 4 hours late. I was done and paddling in when they were just launching. The other time, the other yak anglers left me alone out there after just a short fishing session. Other anglers had to fish from the crack of dawn and quit by a certain time in order to get home for family stuff, regardless of tide timing, when I wanted to launch later and fish until whenever. Another time, I was launching once at 10am when the yak angler I was supposed to fish with had arrived early, promptly paddled out and slayed a couple of nice Lings, and was already done and beaching his yak.
However, more yak-fishing buddies in the water with ya improves your own odds of not becoming "the chosen one!"

Anyway, I have to paddle out alone if I want to get out there when the conditions look good. Can't wait around for weekends. I just look at the wind, tide, and swell. I know when to go, and when not to go, am well-versed in "self-rescue," never leave my hatches open for long, and wear a wetsuit if the water is cold (its always cold enough here for one).

One thing I won't do alone. I won't paddle out and fish way out over the "sunken jetty," which extends quite a ways beyond the outer tip. And I usually don't fish close in right around the outer tip of the jetty where the sea lions and seals haul out. Feels all "twilight zoney" out there.

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Still too chilly now, and too early. I like to wait until the Ling opener before I paddle out to fish along the Jetty. With the gear I have, I like water temps and air temps out there to add up to at least 100, such as 51 degree water and 49 degree air. Last Spring, when it was 50 F air temp and 52 F water temp, I was comfortable in my 3mm farmer john, yak booties, longsleeve hydroskin top, and splash jacket. And the fishing was halfway decent.


the sultan of swing
I have often thought that the surfers at Half moon bay must look like a seal from below the waters surface, If that seal hadn't been there the outcome may have been different.

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
I have often thought that the surfers at Half moon bay must look like a seal from below the waters surface, If that seal hadn't been there the outcome may have been different.
Surfers lying down and paddling might resemble the profile of a seal or a sea turtle when viewed from below. I have two friends who regularly ride body boards ("Boogie Boards") here. They are down in the water a bit lower than surfers on regular short boards, and probably look more like gigantic frogs with their fins.

Out of the several reported encounters with Great Whites along the West Coast of the U.S. last year, only one was a fatal attack on a surfer. Some researchers think that the population of GWS along the coast may be on the rise. Their food supply has "come back."

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
I'm looking forward to some kayak fishing with the Fool of Tides. Just sayin'.
How 'bout some inland waters for searun cutts?
I'm hoping that shark goes away, or else chokes on some tsunami debris it tries to swallow between now and the Ling opener. Maybe it ate or will eat that big Steller sea lion I saw hanging out there last year. That would be a good thing, since those Stellers like to eat bottom fish like Ling Cod and Halibut, as well as Sturgeon, and they are big and eat a lot.

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
Not so long ago a fisherman reported hooking a Great White shark near Tacoma Narrows Bridge. I saw a Narwhal swim right past me one day fishing sea run Cutthroat up here near Port Townsend Bay. The more time you have on the water the more things that you notice.