shark grabs fish out of water
Tik Tik, @rob_the_meadows

Watch: Shark Launches Out of Water and Steals Tarpon Right off a Dock Line

It's a standard tarpon battle—but somehow still a surprise when that shark comes torpedoing out.

Tarpon, often referred to as the 'Silver King' by many anglers, are tons of fun to fish for; they hit aggressively and fight hard, taking leaps and twirls through the air as they try to fight the hook off.

But for Florida angler Robert Meadows, the excitement of his recent catch came not from the tarpon, but from a hungry shark stealing his hooked fish at the last moment.

A video Meadows posted on TikTok shows what seems like a nice catch right off the dock. Meadows takes a minute to reel the tarpon in (he explains in the comments it's because he was using a bass rod and it's, you know, a fiesty tarpon) and right before it seems like he's going to lift the silver fish out... a shark comes torpedoing out of nowhere and tries to steal the meal.

The attack seems to catch Meadows and his recorder as off guard as it does us, the audience. But, perhaps surprisingly, Meadows explains in the comments that the tarpon somehow gets away from the shark—though it did have a bite out of it when the angler was finally able to haul it in.

@rob_the_meadows Just when you thought all the sharks were busy being on TV ???#sharkweek #bullshark #tarpon #FL #floridafishing #iwasntworking @Discovery @Jeremy Wade ? Spongebob Tomfoolery - Dante9k Remix - David Snell

While it's wild to see just how quickly a shark can appear from the depths, it's certainly not surprising: When swarms of tarpon make the annual migration through the Southwest Coast of Florida, predator fish follow. Tarpon make easy prey for larger fish, especially sharks, due to the shiny silvery scales along their sides that give them away.

This plus the fact that sharks are attracted when there is commotion in the water, makes a hooked tarpon a high liability for a shark to be nearby.

Because of this, there is an established understanding among frequent anglers of the proper protocol when a tarpon is hooked and a shark is close: Open the bail of the reel and give the tarpon line to swim freely. This gives the tarpon a chance to escape and also ensures that if the shark strikes, it is not near the angler when it does.

The people on the dock didn't see the shark, so they didn't enact the protocol.

Tarpon in Florida

Tarpon are one of Florida's most exciting nearshore sportfish. They are almost exclusively catch-and-release. The only option for keeping a tarpon is to pre-purchase a tarpon tag, and only in pursuit of a Florida state record.

Tarpon coloration includes a dark blue-green or greenish-black on the back that gradually fades into bright silver on the sides, according to the FWC. There is one dorsal fin with the last ray of dorsal fin extended into a long filament. They have large scales, an upturned mouth, and can grow up to eight feet long and weigh up to 300 pounds.

They are also a versatile fish that can be caught on lots of different baits, including flies, streamers, floating and diving lures, jigs, live bait and dead bait, depending on the location and the size of tarpon targeted.

READ MORE: Shark Spectacularly Steals a Striper Off a Fisherman's Hook