Attacked by a Kingfish Off Florida's Sebastian Inlet

On April 5, Josh Landin, 30, his brother Jeremy, and his buddy Rob Platner were in the middle of a bluefish blitz just outside Florida's Sebastian Inlet when a 57-pound kingfish rocketed into their skiff--jaws wide open. Josh tells the story:

THE FISH WERE IN A FRENZY. The blues had corralled a school of bait, and we were casting plugs into the center of it and catching fish left and right. Then, just as my brother was reeling in a blue, this massive head came flying out of the water, straight at me.

It was totally surreal--like this little bluefish had magically grown. But it was actually a kingfish that had been chasing my brother's fish. When the blue slowed as it approached the boat, the king propelled itself at the fish, and his momentum carried him up in the air. He hit me in the chest, all 5 feet of him.

I was stunned at first, like when someone throws you something heavy and you're not expecting it. Before I knew it, I was falling backward. I was about to go overboard when Rob pulled me back in the boat. Then we looked down and saw blood all over the place.

The fish had been snapping his jaws as he fell from my chest, and he'd caught two fingers and my lower leg in his teeth. His mouth was big enough to wrap around my leg--he actually pulled out a piece of calf muscle.

Now the fish was thrashing so wildly that pieces of his tail were flying everywhere. There was no way we were getting him back in the water. We rushed to the other end of the boat, and Jeremy and Rob ripped up a T-shirt and wrapped my leg in the strips to stop the bleeding.

As we drove to the dock, the fish flopped around, and I lay still, holding my leg as hard as I could. The endorphins were wearing off, and I started to see that fuzziness around the sides of your eyes when you're losing consciousness. At the ER, I got 105 stitches--seven on my fingers, 52 on my calf, and 46 on my shin.

We mounted the fish's jaws on a plaque, like shark jaws. He had about 100 long, pointy teeth and was by far the biggest kingfish we've ever "caught." It's too bad we weren't fishing in a tournament--maybe we would have qualified for one of those $80,000 first prizes.