When Mike Lamagna saw a school of fish flitting on the water’s surface just a few hundred yards from the beach in Seabrook, N.H., this week, the avid fisherman dashed back to his family’s house nearby, grabbed his paddleboard and fishing rod, strapped on his GoPro camera, and hastily returned to the ocean.
“When they’re flying out of the water like that, it usually means something is chasing them from below, like striped bass or bluefish,” he said. “I knew I wanted to get out there.”
What Lamagna didn’t know was that a humpback whale would eventually join him on his impromptu fishing expedition — and that he’d catch the whole thing on camera.
While casting his fly-fishing rod from his paddleboard, something gleaming in the water captured Lamagna’s attention, he said. A moment later, an approximately 25-foot whale, its massive white side-fins as large as his paddleboard, breached just a few feet away.
“I was on the paddleboard fishing, and I heard a sound to my right. I spun around, and that’s when my GoPro video caught the humpback,” he said. “I definitely thought I was going in. But it seems like it just came up to check me out and then gently swam away.”
As he went out on the water, Lamagna, 30, said spectators were lined up along the beach, watching whales feed about a quarter-mile from the shoreline. But at the time, he was much more interested in what he might catch.
“I knew they were in the area, but they were still pretty far away at the time,” Lamagna said. “I didn’t think I was going to get that close to one at all.”
The Andover native said he often goes fishing with a GoPro strapped to his head. With so much wildlife activity on the ocean that day, he had more of an incentive to keep the camera rolling. He later shared the video to Facebook, where it’s been viewed more than 3,000 times.
In his years on the water, Lamagna has seen a lot of whales. But this encounter was the most memorable.
“It was a pretty wild experience,” he said.Steve Annear can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.