A Paso Robles fisherman escaped an attack by a great white shark off Cambria Saturday, May 12, although his kayak didn’t.Joey Nocchi, 30, of Paso Robles, has the big-fish tale to tell after his kayak was upended and bitten by a great white shark.
Nocchi and friends James Byon of Paso Robles and Matt Kerschke of Los Osos were fishing for rockfish at 1:30 p.m. Saturday near Leffingwell Landing off Moonstone Beach.
“We’d just about limited out on rock cod, and Matt caught two halibut,” Nocchi said. “We were cruising along together and talking.”Nocchi was reaching for his knife when “I got hit from underneath and started coming up out of the water. My buddies said I came out of the water 4 to 5 feet — it flipped me over the side. The shark rolled the whole kayak over, rolled me out of it, and he went over the top of it. He swam across me — his tail touched me.”
His friends estimated the shark was 12 feet to 14 feet long.
Nocchi’s buddies told him “the shark came all the way out of the water, jaws open, extra eyelids closed like they do when they’re making a kill strike.
“I swam back as fast as I could and got back on the back of the kayak. I didn’t even think to turn it back over.”
Kerschke told him, “The shark knows it made a mistake. You’ll have to get off, turn the kayak over, and get back in. I’m going to go get the paddle, and I want you in the kayak when I get back.”
Nocchi said, “I did, and I got back to shore as fast as I could, even though the kayak was taking on a bunch of water from the bite. The bite looks to be around 20 inches long, more than 22 inches wide.”
Nocchi said he was glad he did not fish alone, and added he’d likely stay out of the ocean for a while. “I’ll be bass fishing for a while, probably from the shore.”
Signs were posted along Moonstone Beach warning beach goers about the shark attack.
The area was also posted in September after a shark was spotted about 50 yards offshore, also at Leffingwell Landing. That shark was believed to be 18 feet long.
In August 2009, a pair of Templeton men witnessed a shark attacking a seal about a quarter-mile offshore and half-mile south of Moonstone Beach.
Warning signs about the presence of a shark were also posted on Moonstone Beach in July 2007.
According to Kayak Angler Magazine, there have been three other previous shark versus kayak attacks in recent years. The others were near Bean Hollow, about 100 miles north of Cambria.