How's the Diving on the Big Island of Hawaii?
An ongoing series of freediving journals
by Rob White
October 7, 2012
My wife, who has a broken wrist and is taking care of our 3 month old baby girl, picking her up, breast feeding and changing diapers, really likes fresh fish! Ya, I know, duh, that's why I married her! She's like the Navy Seal of motherhood; I imagine her in the jungle, bruised and battered, the torrential rain merely smearing her mud laden body with sleeping baby in hand, yelling, “Save yourself! I'll hold them off as long as I can!” So, anyway, she let me go dive with the boys.
My buddy Bill's daughter is getting married in three days so he asked Deron and I to come along in hopes, between the three of us, we could land enough fish to feed the wedding goers. Being a retired hand and foot model, Bill doesn't have much money left over after all the surgeries. Recently he had to buy another tooth after a bar fight, a tree fell on his house, lightening struck his horse, his cat got worms and his dog sneezes when it smells grass. Poor, poor, poor Bill. Please contact me directly if you would like to contribute to his latest battle, hair cancer. That's right, hair cancer. We know this because it's been turning gray and falling out. All this while recovering from three broken ribs and a punctured lung due to a vicious attack during a pillow fight with his neighbor over who's grass was greener. Someone has to take care of him, so we pitched in and did our best.
Another boat raced us to our destination and started trolling lures as we suited up. We watched as the fisherman hooked up and fought something vigorously, only to pull up a 1-2lb fish of some kind. We were discouraged, but jumped in anyway. Suddenly, images of Mahi appeared from all directions. Keeping their distance at first until we let it rain with offerings of sardines causing the water before us to erupt. Bull Mahi battling for the fish bits so fiercely a shot was impossible until the white-water cleared and our twitching trigger fingers calmed to a mere tremble. Finally, Deron and I were able to get a spear into one each. Bill must have been still suffering from breaking his nail while putting his fin on.
After each drift we traded tales of success and sorrows but the one consistency was all the big Mahi that just kept coming back for more abuse and the laughter from all the pranks we pulled on each other. Within a short time we all landed enough fish for the cause and the weather was perfect all day. Why can't every day be like this?
September 3, 2012
Part of the many things I like to share with our Blue Water Charter customers is to try and enjoy the little things. Many of us have desires to shoot a trophy or win the rat race but we don't always take the time to enjoy the ride. Keith, our designated marksman of the day, has plenty of land hunting experience which will help him in the blue. He's calm, cool and collected which will end up paying off with what we are about to encounter on this day.
We needed to get some gear situated first so we stopped short of the first buoy to get our weight situated and the guns rigged. After a little gear testing we headed in to our first location look for fish worthy of our spear. Well, we found tons of fish but nothing quite large enough for dinner. The bait was plentiful and beautiful to see dancing around without a care in the world. I was imagining a huge Mahi or Ono seeing this same dance and just ripping through the different shoals of fish. But, that will be another time because it wasn't on right now, so we packed up and headed for the next location.
As the day progressed the morning wind subsided to a light breeze and allowed the water to glass-off a little. The energy was good at this buoy, with larger bait fish and small 5-10lb. Ahi swimming below the feeling of anything could happen kept us on edge. As we drifted toward the buoy images of Mahi began to appear. First one, then two, for a total of five nice fish. We also noticed a white tip oceanic shark coming up to check on us, so the visuals were filling in nicely. Keith's first shot on a briskly moving Mahi was low but within range so the attempt was well heeded. Keith quickly reloaded with a simple reminder to relax, and go for the big one! Man, I love it when the stars align. All the Mahi were acting a bit illusive now but Keith's patience paid off when he got a great holding shot right behind the gill plate, and on the largest Mahi of the group!
I hear Capt Deron yell, “Rob,” which usually means something important! I looked up as he says, “you might want to pull the fish up quickly because there's a Silky shark around and he looks hungry.” I acknowledged him and started looking around. Keith and I saw an oceanic already so I was wondering if that's what Deron was talking about, however, Deron knows his sharks? I could barely make out the buoy underwater being that we were about 80 feet from it, however, I could faintly make out the shape of a shark right next to it. It seemed, as it often does, like I took my eye off the shark for only a moment when I looked back and it's making a bee-line right for the mildly struggling Mahi about 40 feet below us. I was holding the tag line for Keith at the moment as he was readying his camera for photos so I started pulling it up as fast as I could. The shark turned and came right up to Keith trying to find out where that fresh smell of blood was coming from.
For the next 10 minutes or so the shark visited Keith and I repeatedly requiring us to push it off time and time again. It never became what I would call aggressive, just inquisitive, which gave me time to figure out what kind of a shark it was. I swear, it was the strangest thing in the world, when the sharks was swimming straight at us it looked brown or bronze colored, than when it turned sideways two feet away it looked white with a subtle blue hue and lastly when it turned away it looked more blue colored. Amazing... absolutely brilliant design! The long pectoral fins, extra large round black colored eye, long pointed nose and slender body confirmed it was a blue shark.
The blue shark is not common in Hawaii but they are not rare either. It's witnessed by night-time fisherman feeding on squid and whatever else it can catch but is very uncommon to see during the day. Personally, I have only had the chance to swim with a blue ONE other time a few years ago, which was a brief encounter and I wasn't able to retrieve a camera in time. This ten minute encounter was unbelievable and I feel very fortunate for Keith to have persevered, spearing and landing his beautiful Mahi, which he was able to get video of his fish and the shark and for me to get a few fun pictures of Keith with the amazing shark! SO cool! I love my job!!!
August 25, 2012
Aloooooohaaaa! Remember me? I'm the dude that used to keep a journal about my weekend adventures. Ya, well, I have a reason. It's been almost two years to the day since my last entry and in that time I got married to a great huntress and had a little girl that already has me completely wrapped around her finger. But, luckily, mama loves the water and now we are shooting fish together... as long as we can find a baby sitter.
Some friends requested a boat ride to see sharks. That's right, sharks. Not fish. Sharks. The funny thing is I haven't seen a shark in so long I didn't even know where to begin to look. Ya see, the reason that is funny is because we usually see a billion sharks every day, so I'm not sure what is going on but they just haven't been around as much. You could say, “THAT'S GREAT” but a lot of people actually like to see them, including me. Ya, I know what you're thinking, I can hear it. Ya, well, she thinks so also but she still married me.
The first buoy we checked had three skittish Mahi and no sharks so we moved on. The water started off a little shaky but cleaned up as the day went on so we decided to head a little further off shore in hopes of more action, and boy did we find it!
Now at F buoy, with every other boat in the world, the crowd parted like Moses parting the Red Sea as we approached to let us through. No, not quite. Actually, within a few minutes a boat with three guys on it was literally right on top of us. The old dude with three teeth, not three teeth missing, three, total, in his mouth, says, “eh, what you do'n?” I said, what does it LOOK like we're do'n? He slobbers on himself as he says, “It looks like you're do'n nut'n.” I replied, well, I guess you're do'n not'n also so get away from us! To which he replied while spitting all over his captain, “I'm fish'n!” So are we, I explained. Surprisingly, the captain asked nicely, “You guys are diving right?” I said, uh, ya. “How are we supposed to deal with you in the water?” Which, I thought was a good and legitimate question, unlike the toothless fairy's method of asking a question like he was hungry to eat the last three teeth he had. As nicely as I could I answered, just give us the same distance and respect you would give another boat or fisherman. Nothing more, nothing less. He muttered something under his breath and drove off so I guess that answer was good enough for them to understand.
Frankly, I'm glad the captain asked, nicely, because many boaters just don't know what they are supposed to do with divers out at the buoy's. The rules are, or should be, all the same BUT that doesn't work sometimes. When there are lots of fish and lots of boats, tension can definitely set in between boaters and divers. For example, we find floaters as small as a milk jug that hold as many as 40-50 Mahi and sometimes some Ono down below. Typically, the fish will swim around the floater undisturbed within 30-40 feet of the floater, sometimes more, sometimes less. Well, if there are 4-6 boats trying to fish the floater and a diver pulls up, jumps in with his float and flag, that by law requires all vessels to stay a minimum of 100 feet away, and swims up to the area with fish? Gee, do you think someone's going to get pissed? Of COURSE they are, so what do we do? Either talk to the fisherman of your intentions, jump in and stay next to your boat and hope the fish swim by or increase your chances by staying near your boat and throw some chum and/or use flashers to bring the fish to you. Because, hey, if you can't swim to the fish then why not bring the fish to you? Anyway, the point is, no one owns the ocean but try to work something out before the words start flying.
So, we jump in up-current of F buoy when we notice a small window of opportunity between the boats, and within a few minutes we've got a dolphin and shark parfait on a silver platter, just as our guests had requested! But wait, there's more! We look toward the buoy and there is a PILE of Mahi in a tight ball swimming in circles. I dive down and line up on the bull when at LEAST three other Mahi block my view. The thought of stringing all four was put aside when I realized this was the perfect storm of opportunity for the one and only, the water-woman of all time, the mother of my baby girl, for the Mrs. Blue Water Hunter Hawaii and the daughter of Poseidon himself, my wife, Anna White.
I gazed yonder to which my wife appeared before me with sun kissed skin and lips as red as a summer apple, her silhouette illuminated with an angelic halo. Slowly, her suit of water-armor is pulled upon her strong yet supple shoulders. A dagger strewn with marks of battles won tethered by her side, ready at a moment's notice to be thrust into the gods of the depths themselves. She dawns her face shield and readies it into position. With the cunning of a serpent she slides into the cool teal blue, a massive branch of wood, metal and rubber gripped firmly in hand beside her, she swims ever so subtly. The ominous olive colored ball of beastly Mahi moves with purpose as if to confuse and torment it's predator or kill it's prey. With steady eyes Poseidon's daughter gazes upon this spectacle swaying before her like an ocean surge of a winter storm, growling and bearing its razor sharp teeth. Daring her, tempting her to wonder ever closer, they move to the right then to the left like a dance but of death. She places before her and between them this device of craftsmanship and devastation. As slight as the eyelashes of a baby girls whisking the air with the blinking of her innocent blue eyes, aim is taken and the shot has hit its mark. The battle has begun.
They scatter as the sounds of death rain upon their fellow Mahi. One is separated from the many, its fate is now firmly in the hands of its Domina. A fierce and mighty roar is heard from the heavens themselves and from our fellow heathens spewing fire and thunder in the floating mass beside us. The beast is raised from the ocean, its head displayed atop the spear held high by its new master, its body hangs limp with conviction. The halls of glory will forever ring with song, laughter and images of this most glorious battle yet. Another notch on the belt of time, a time in which the grandchild of Poseidon, the daughter of “Anna the victorious” and my humbled self, will know of her own flesh and blood and be designed like and celebrated for generations to come.
My shield is lowered as is my head, one knee is pressed firmly against the crafts deck. My words are soft yet bold. You, my wife, have summoned the spirits upon our blessed family, another generation of warrior, hunter and gatherer. Cast are the dark clouds of the past, cast are the times before this union, times before our most glorious new life and daughter, our princess. Your meaning has forever risen above the stars and beyond the heavens. Gratitude.
Well, my fish was nowhere as glorious as my wife's. Except for me praying for the hail-mary shot I took, securing the Bull Mahi. Overall, it truly was a glorious day. Everyone had their fill of adventure. We managed to get two nice fish AND even made it home on time for the baby to have her mama without a tear. We divided all the fish and parted back to our real lives, but with memories to get us through the work week. The next day I gathered my things to go to work when I looked over at my little family and smiled. Ya, I thought, this is what it's all about!
Aug. 20, 2010
You fathers and sons will appreciate this one. It always warms the heart to watch a father and son share special moments together, moments that will last a lifetime. Especially if its out in the blue water and blasting Mahi Mahi.
I have to admit I was bit skeptical if we were going to be able to find Bob and his son some fish but my nervousness was laid to rest after about 10 minutes into the charter. The first stop at VV buoy yielded good visibility and a mild current, perfect for two divers who haven't tested their equipment or themselves at this game of cat and mouse in more than ten years. A slow, relaxed drift toward the buoy allowed the two divers to situate themselves and take in the scenery of the seemingly endless blue bottomless abyss and the small shiny speckles of bait fish acting like sparkling tinsel on a Christmas tree swaying in the afternoon breeze. Than we saw what we came here for.
Their eyes grow the size of grape fruit when they sight a nice sized Mahi Mahi hanging under the buoy. Aligning themselves not to become entangled with the FAD, Bob, the father, dropped down to about 20 feet and leveled off on level with the Mahi. Just a few feet away he pulls the trigger. The fish appeared to have jumped when the gun fired and the shaft missed it's mark. Luckily, the fish didn't seem to take much notice and kept swimming around like nothing happened.
We were back on the boat reloading the equipment and talking about the situation. Shortly thereafter we were back up current to make another attempt. Almost exactly like the first time the Mahi swam in the same 20 foot intercepting course to Bob. But this time his shot was perfect just behind the gill. After a short fight the Mahi was on the boat and high-5's were heard all the way to Maui. A charter snorkel boat pulled up beside us and clapped and cheered as Bob held up his catch... and his chin.
July 29, 2010
It's probably not the smartest thing I've done but it made for an exciting experience. So what if there was a pack of hungry oceanic sharks around. What are they going to do, eat us? Don't answer that please.
Our charter client Bill and I jumped in the water after noticing some action stirring the surface. It was the beginning of the day and we see a little Kamanu (rainbow runner) swimming in our direction. I think to myself, oh, that might be fun for Bill. Than I see another one a little larger coming in, than another one, than another one... and each time they are getting bigger and bigger. Sound great right? The problem was that each fish was followed closely by an oceanic white tip. Within a few minutes we had about 8-9 very nice sized Kamanu swimming around and the same amount of sharks. I mentioned to Bill, I'll back you up if you wanna shoot one of the Kamanu but I can't guarantee you are going to get your shaft back. For some reason he reluctantly declined the opportunity, so I asked him if he minded if I shot one? He replied with, go ahead. I said ok but we are going to get out of the water as FAST as we can after I shoot it, alright?!? Bill agreed with an uncertain expression.
It took me a couple drops but finally I got my chance for a shot, and I took it. I was unable to stone it so as expected all hell erupted. Bill and I flew onto the boat and pulled up the fish as fast as possible. All of us were unscathed so Bill and I had to share a laugh.
After getting all the gear situated and our nerves in order we jumped in again looking for more adrenaline. But this time the only thing that came up were the sharks without any fish in sight. Bill used this opportunity to practice facing JAWS and I must say, he did quite well. He let the sharks get closer and closer and before long he was actually swimming toward THEM. Get um Bill... Grrrrr
April 13, 2010
It's not like I haven't been diving, actually quite the contrary. I haven't been keeping up with my journals because I have been diving several days a week leading our charters. Which is a ton-o-fun but I haven't had a day off in a while. Do you feel sorry for me yet?
So now I'm going to tell you tales of other people's spearfishing adventures, but through my eyes. Because I was there, I just didn't shoot the fish, that's the clients job. Hiroshi is from Japan and has come out with us several times now. He has done quite well for himself while diving here in Hawaii. His first trip with us consisted of him landing two Mahi Mahi after fighting off several VERY aggressive white tip oceanic sharks that were trying to get his fish. He shot the first Mahi and the sharks went crazy. After we boated it I asked him if he wanted to shoot another one? And to my surprise he says, "Sure." That's my kind of crazy... You da man Hiroshi.
This trip we had to work much harder to find fish and the weather was less than favorable. Actually, the weather flat-out sucked! Amazingly we were able to find a current line that had two small pieces of net floating in it. We saw two boats pulling up Mahi after Mahi so I asked one of them if he minded if we jumped in? The fisherman says, "Go ahead... I'm catching more than I need already!" Wow, ok, let's do this! Funny thing is we jumped in and didn't see one Mahi... but we did see a pack of Ono.
Hiroshi jumped in and blasted himself a nice Ono after a couple tries. After that the Ono's stayed down kinda deep but the visuals were unreal with crystal clear water, bait fish swimming around everywhere and the Ono's cruising below. By the look on Hiroshi's face it made up for the rough ride.
February 21, 2010
A picture is worth a lifetime. I was out diving with my good friends me, myself and I and we were all fortunate enough to witness a drive-by of gigantic proportions. The cool thing about this day is the batteries in my camera were dead but I was able to get one picture. Yes, ONE picture! But I didn't think I even got one because as soon as I took the shot my camera just automatically turned off. I was like, what the.... awe man... And that was all I saw the entire day. But now that one picture is one of my all time fav's. Ya gota try putting the speargun down on occasion and hunting with a camera sometimes otherwise you might be missing a lot of what the ocean has to offer.
January 4, 2010
We made it! Another year survived in our wonderful economy. Looking
back at 2009 I will remember only one thing, how much fish I ate.
Looking forward to 2010 will be about how much MORE fish I want
to eat. Not because I'm greedy, I just can't afford to buy any
Ok, things aren't that bad but I'm sure you get the point. But
if you don't here it is... do you have any idea how much money I
last year by eating fish I caught four days a week? Well, I didn't
actually keep track but I'm sure its a lot. With all the money
I saved I was able to buy things I really needed like beer, ice cream
and beer. Did I mention all the beer I could buy already?
Because the wind has still been blowing and the open ocean has
not been any fun for boat riding, Bill and I headed down once
our secret spot, that everybody knows about. And everybody dives.
And everybody shoots fish there. But don't tell anyone, ok? Down
there on this day, conditions were ideal.
We had a good plan going into this day and executed it very well.
But even if you do everything perfectly doesn't mean the fish
are going to impale themselves on your spear. However, that
nice. We were able to see some 100+ pounds Ahi but Bill and
I couldn't get anywhere near them. Next we saw the shape of a good
but it was deep and on the move. Bill made an attempt to dive
and find it but by the time he made the drop there was no Ono
found. A few more minutes went by with more sightings of Ahi
but again nowhere
near within range for a shot. Once again the Ono did a pass
deep below but this time we just waited. I timed it as best
I could and
with a blind drop I decided to check to see if the Ono might
About 50 feet down I saw the Ono swimming about another 20-30
feet below but I only had a 75 foot bungee and I was willing
it out the best I could. I turned downward and kicked with
all my might. It must have been my new wet suit because simultaneously
Ono turns up straight up at me like a challenge to see who
get to the chum first and ends up swimming so close and directly
me that I wasn't comfortable taking the shot. So I waited
for myself to drop a little deeper so I could be on level and wait
for a horizontal
shot. I aimed carefully... and shot. The fish took off running
like I haven't seen a fish do in a long time. Well, last
I had to let my float go at the beginning in fear of ripping
the Ono off the spear shaft so I had to chase it down a
was exciting and fun. But it was more fun when I held the
44 lb. Ono in my hand. Bill and I stayed out a bit longer
We headed in stoked to see some nice Ahi and to get a nice
great day and a great way to start off the new year.
December 21, 2009
Christmas is right around the corner and even though winter in Hawaii
isn't as bad as some parts of the world, it has been less than
ideal for a boat ride. For the past week or so high winds have
made the open ocean less than friendly. I guess we have been seriously
spoiled for so long now that its about time we have to swim from
shore to go spearfishing rather than the luxury of the boat all
the time. I hope my skinny atrophied legs can handle a little swimming.
Bill and I left at dark thirty o'clock to get a head start toward
our secret spot that everybody knows about. A bunch of my family,
friends, customers, acquaintances, associates as well as their
family, friends, customers, acquaintances, associates told me about
spot that nobody ever goes and there are tons of big fish there.
And they know there are tons of big fish there because they all
went diving there recently and got big fish, lots of them. But I
tell you where this secret spot is because it's a secret. Duh!
We made it down to our spot and jumped in. The water felt cool but
was crystal clear, even more clear than your average beautiful Hawaii
day. Right away we were surrounded by shoals of bait fish known
Opelu. Within minutes I noticed an Ono off in the distance, and
he seem to know to stay away from divers. Must have been my family,
friends, customers, acquaintances, associates as well as their
friends, customers, acquaintances, associates that were down here
recently. I couldn't see any scars on this Ono but I could tell
he had shell-shock from watching all his buddies get blasted. I think
he was the only one left in the entire ocean, and I think he knew
Bill and I swam around chumming in various locations for about
two hours. We saw a bunch of really cool visuals but nothing
spear. However, I did see that same Ono a couple more times but
far away. At one point Bill had seen a different small Ono so
the throw some chum but I didn't notice him stop so we became
separated a few hundred feet. I turned around to locate Bill and
the Ono, THE Ono, the same shell-shocked Ono about ten feet behind
float. He started swimming away when a ball of Opelu suddenly
started darting back and forth like the Ono was going to eat them.
some of you are going to think I'm nuts... and many of you know
that I already am nuts... but... normally... you don't want to
around... right? I mean, I know that, and have written journals
about some of my dive buddies chasing fish around and how irritating
is because they chase all the fish away. BUT... there are times...
believe it or not... when it's ok to chase a fish... like when
it's distracted by the fish it's chasing... like this Ono.
If you could imagine me, the guy who has had MANY conversations
with ALL my dive buddies NOT to CHASE fish, and here I am swimming
FAST as I could with my arms extended like super man swimming
almost straight at Bill. Bill looks up as he sees me swimming
than he looks over and sees the Ono swimming by him a few feet
surface chasing the school of Opelu, he looks back at me than
keeps chumming. I'm sure Bill was thinking I have lost my mind
to chase down one of the fastest fish in the ocean. It would
long to explain all the reasons why I figured THIS situation
was different but all I was trying to do is keep the Ono within
distance because I knew he would turn around at SOME point,
I just didn't know when.
I have now covered the distance Bill and I were separated as
I see the Opelu school being chased by the Ono coming right
toward Bills right side where the main large school of Opelu
enjoying the offerings made by Bills chum bag. The Ono had
broken off the chase but was still heading in our general
direction. I made a dive a bit to early and the Ono turned away.
back to the surface right way for another attempt. The Ono
again and swam right below me about twenty feet. Perfect,
I thought. I launched my spear and the fish took off with my
behind. It was a good battle but the 30.5 lb. Ono finally
came up in tact after one small shark tried to have its way with
it. We had
enough for dinner so we called it a day and headed in. Wow,
my legs were tired.
December 16, 2009
My Nov. 4 Journal talked about an interesting whale,
dolphin, shark and Mahi Mahi experience for four of my friends that
Well, we all know word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising,
so just over a month later I have four more people on my boat
with HUGE expectations due to the referral one of my friends that
was on the boat Nov. 4.
this referral was from a very good friend and he told me that these
four people were very special people to him. Oh, like there
wasn't enough pressure on me already... These new people were super
fired up to see ALL the same things they had heard about. Uhh,
fishing is fishing and the chance of seeing the same thing or the
a month and a half later is next to slim, to put it mildly. But,
the show must go on.
They specifically asked for several things, everyone wanted to
see Dolphins, sharks and they wanted to see me spear a fish. They
wanted to see Dolphins. So, we went North to an area where Dolphins
usually hang out but on the way there we stopped at a FAD to check
for any fish that might be around. I didn't have high hopes for
this FAD because it hasn't had any fish on it for a little while,
you never know. I got in the water at the FAD with all of my spearfishing
equipment and one of the couples as we did a slow drift by the
buoy. We didn't see a hole lot but there was one shark that came
the depths to about 70 feet, close enough to see but far from a
close encounter. We went back up current to try again and much
result. I could see the looks of despair already happening on my
clients faces so I had to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Since we
didn't have any chum I asked my captain to use half of my turkey
sandwich, tear it up and throw it in the water. Not more that twenty
seconds later two sharks came up close to check things out along
with a nice little Mahi. I took aim on the fish from the surface
and let it fly. A HORRIBLE shot on the fish and it started going
crazy. Oh great, I turn around to check on my two clients in the
water and instead of two sharks there were six!
Instantly, two of the sharks gave chase to the Mahi so I let it
go to help it outrun the pesky scavengers. The divers that were
in the water were looking at me like, uhh, are these things going
to eat us? I mentioned to them as calmly as I could, um, you might
want to get back on the boat... A split second later they were
all safe and secure on the boat and I could focus on my Mahi and
from being eaten.
It didn't take long before I could see the Mahi getting tired of
swimming in figure-eights trying to outrun now all six sharks.
I didn't have a choice, so I jumped in the boat and pulled in the
line as fast as I could. At first the line was completely limp
and I thought I was too late, the sharks had gotten him but my
assured me that he was still on. I pulled and pulled and finally
I had the Mahi on the boat to cheers from everyone. I think I was
yelling the loudest.
After eating whatever sandwiches we didn't use for chum we headed
in for the next faze of our day. Speared fish, check, close encounter
with sharks, check, next, Dolphins. What we didn't count on was
gale-force winds as we got closer and closer to shore. After taking
wave over the bow of the boat nearly flooding cameras and dry bags
we turned around and headed back South for calmer water. By the
time we reached an area calm enough to relax a little we were almost
to the harbor. All of the sudden we spot the spout of two Humpback
whales! However, we weren't the only boat to spot them either.
Within a few minutes there were about 6 boats following the Humpbacks
enough that it looked like they were almost on top of them. Of
course I want my clients to see them as well but I sure didn't
want to be
a part of the pursuing crowd. So I went way around and up a couple
miles, stopped and just turned the motors off. About 20 minutes
or so went by when we all started looking around like we might
missed the target, when both whales came up very close to the boat
and gave everyone a great show.
Captain Jeff looks over and exclaims, "I think there is a HUGE
Tiger shark over there!" I thought to myself, if that's a Tiger
he must have mated with a Humpback because he's huge alright. I stuck
my head in the water and saw the unmistakable spots of a whale shark,
so I was kinda right about the shark mating with a Humpback, right?
I couldn't contain myself but somehow managed to tell everyone to
get in the water before I put my snorkel in my mouth and got in.
Jeff had positioned the boat perfectly and the whale shark was coming
right at us. For the next 5-10 minutes we petted and played with
the incredible beast before it headed toward the depths.
At this point it was time to head in after a day like no other.
We never did find any Dolphins but there were still as many close
on this one day than happens to most people in a lifetime. What
can I say, just another day in Hawaii.
November 4, 2009
It's November, where the weather in many parts of North
America is starting to turn cold. Some friends are in town, two from
and two from Colorado; I can't imagine why they would want to come
to Hawaii? Well, if I had to guess it might be something about
the warm, sunny weather and calm, clear ocean. So I took the challenge
of giving them the tour, of the underwater world that is.
have been reading my passed 2009 journals you will notice that
since March we have had an INCREDIBLE season for fish. They
haven't been exceptionally large fish overall but the number of
fish swimming around has been the best I have seen in 6 years. Still
BIG Ahi's though, hmmm, where could they be?
The five of us took
my boat out for a cruise the first day and we decided the best
chance of seeing something interesting, like
or Dolphin, was at the local FAD's up North. Of course I was
hoping more for a fish to spear than a shark but its all for fun
a good day on the water. Well, the weather looked good when we
started but turned ugly and windy very fast. We got hammered!
I was trying
my best to find the buoy in 6-8 foot seas but it was not on the
GPS mark so it could be anywhere within about a 6 mile radius,
this weather... good luck.
Right when we decided to turn around
we noticed some Pilot whales to our starboard side so I slowly
maneuvered the boat in their
general direction and stopped. Several small ones passed by
but I noticed one large male getting a little frisky and acting
funny. It didn't take long before the whale looked like he
wanted to use
the boat as a play thing. Something like you might have heard
in the stories about Moby Dick. We'll just leave it at that.
we did! Closer to shore we found a large pod of spinner dolphins
jumping and playing right next to the boat. Cameras were snapping
so fast it sounded like the forth of July.
Two days later we
tried again but this time we went south toward the more protected
side of the island. We pulled up
to UU buoy
and saw MANY large unmistakable green colors and shapes of
We did several drifts checking out the fish and just enjoying
the surroundings. I spied several very good sized Bull Mahi
group but there was one that stood out above the rest. I
took aim and fired.
It was a good holding shot but far from a stone shot. I just
played him gently so he wouldn't rip off or bend my spear
he didn't rip of but he sure bent the spear shaft good. Oh
was way worth it. The Mahi weighted in at 46 pounds. We ate
well for the rest of my friends visit.
October 10, 2009
I have been texting my buddy Bill some fish pictures
and stories over the last few months he's been on the mainland so
he's back he's anxious to get in the water. Over the past 3-4 months
the Mahi and Ono have been so plentiful that one must believe this
incredible run must end sometime, right? Its also Saturday today,
the day of the world-famous Ironman Triathlon held here in Kona,
so most of the locals have left town to escape the craziness. For
some reason the Ironman seems to be held on THE hottest day of
the year, every year. As if a 2.5 mile ocean swim followed by a
110 mile bike ride followed by a 26 mile run wasn't difficult enough!?
weather this day, for diving, was better than perfect. The only
precipitation in the air was that of our sweat because it was so
hot, and tears from out eyes because there were no other boats
in the Pacific ocean it seemed. Just an incredible day on the water...
oh... and at this point we were just launching the boat.
out on Bill's 17 ft. Whaler with no shade cover, we arrived to
UU buoy without another sole in sight. I told Bill to go ahead
and jump in and I will stay on the boat. I knew he was excited
and I wanted him to have the entire place to himself. Right away
a nice Ono and brought it to the boat. I could see the smile
through his mask. He mentioned there were several more but I just
he stay in for as long as he wanted.
We moved back up current
for another drift and it wasn't long before Bill had another Ono.
He mentioned he saw a Mahi so we
attempt up current and once again he had landed a nice fish.
At this point Bill has been in the water a total of about fifteen
and landed three fish. Not a bad welcome home.
We decided to
try another buoy that neither of us had been to in a while. I was
mostly anxious just to get wet and cool
I lost about three pounds of sweat at this point. As I was
suiting up Bill says, "Hay, I think I saw a Stino." A
Stino is a type of Dolphin, which sounds cute to all you
softies, but the
reality for a diver is they chase all the fish away and they
eat all the chum. But, I needed to cool off so I jumped in.
swam over a little to align myself with the buoy during the
drift. What the... I didn't see anything leading up to
at all... not even a Stino... until I could see the buoy
clearly underwater. Ha ha... I couldn't believe it! There
(4) Mahi and five (5) Ono right under the buoy. I dipped
surface to line up on the largest of the Ono in the school
and took an easy shot.
Boating the fish and moving back up current, Bill suggested
I stay in for another round. Uh... ok, Another drift and
was a new addition to the tightly packed school of Mahi
and Ono, a nice sized Bull Mahi that wasn't there before. But
the shot wasn't so easy. I had to actually herd the fish
to one side
away from the buoy with my left hand so I could take a
with my right hand without shooting the buoy or the buoy
don't think I even had to leave the surface to shoot the
Instead of the saying "it's like shooting fish in a barrel,"
I'm going to update that a little and call it, "Its like shooting
fish on a buoy." Get it? Not much sport today but I'm not
The Ironman Triathletes will make up for the lack of effort
on my part.
September 18, 2009
Don't you hate it when you and your dive partners schedules
conflict and you just can't agree on a time or day? So Jeff and I
the day but we just couldn't get the right time. So I said, fine,
we can just leave whenever but we have to be back early so I can
make my appointment with the Playmates. Ha ha wrong appointment.
That's next week : )
We ended up leaving the dock at 8:00 am and
headed out to a buoy that I have had quite a bit of luck at lately,
for our charters.
But this time it was my turn to pull the trigger... and trigger
happy I was. Both Jeff and I jumped in and noticed more bait fish
either one of us had ever seen! But nothing big. Hmmm. We went
back up current one more time and still saw nothing. In desperation
dove to about fifty feet because the Ono have been hanging kinda
deep lately and don't come up unless a diver does something to
make them curious. And chum doesn't interest them. Besides, we didn't
bring any chum anyways.
About 10 Ono come up from the depths all
the way to the surface, what a great visual. The problem was all
the Ono were about 6-10
pounds; enough for a sandwich but that's about it. So we packed
up and headed to another buoy that I haven't had much luck at
lately but I haven't been to for a couple weeks, so, you never know.
to our second destination I told Jeff to go ahead and jump in.
Like I said, I didn't have very high hopes about this
my stomach wasn't feeling very good and I needed to take care
of some business. So, I dropped Jeff off up current and moved
a bit, so, well, you know. Not more than a minute goes by and
Jeff yell, "GET IN!" Which can only mean one thing,
there's fish. But um, I um, was kinda busy at the moment. I
look up and see
huge splashes around him and I start wondering if, "GET
meant "I'm about to get eaten by a shark." I also
noticed a large boat steaming full speed right at Jeff. So,
I did what any
good friend would do and pulled up my suit and jumped in as
fast as I could. Ya, well, I'll finish up later.
up, I'm in the water trying to load my speargun,
swim toward Jeff and see what's going on all at the same
I could make out a very nice sized Bull Mahi on the end of
Jeff's spear with a very well placed shot through the head.
there were no sharks. Jeff told me later he didn't see the
Bull Mahi yet and was going to shoot the cow until the Bull
in to defend his mate. So, he shot the Bull. Ha ha, gota
I watched Jeff looking around like there was another Mahi
in the area so I stopped swimming and just watched. Out
depths a good sized cow came slowly up followed closely
by a nice sized
(Rainbow Runner). Very cool visual! I had to work hard
to get a
shot but I was finally able to get a long, lofty shot.
I played her very
gently and was able to secure her after a few minutes.
it turns out Jeff's Bull Mahi weight in at 34 pounds and the cow
was 36.5. I guess even male Mahi can be into
who knew?Jeff and I were back at the dock at 10:00 am,
exactly two hours after we left. He was able to do what he needed
morning and because we were back early I will make my
appointment without issue. AND we have plenty of Mahi
to go around.
So, there was no conflict at all. Don't you just love
everything works out. Ya just gota try.
July 6, 2009
I was sitting outside having breakfast after waking
up late on my day off when I first took notice of the rather beautiful,
windless day. I thought to myself, what a nice day to relax and
do nothing, ahhhhh.
Ahhhh... I'm relaxing...
Ahhhh, what a nice day.
Boy, what a nice day.
Man, what a really, really nice day. Hmm,
windless and calm. Calm and windless... wind...less. No wind. Non
at all. Still...
The dishes hit the sink, food still on the plate, at the
same time the front door closed behind me... I was GONE! It was
by 10:30 I had picked up the boat, gotten my dive gear
together, found some ice and chum and was on the water panting like
a dog after a long run. I smoked the boat motors to the furthest
out from shore in hopes the weather was good where it was
not. Oh... did I mention Hawaii was on "Hurricane
I was banking on the calm before the storm,
which must have been why I didn't see another boat on the
Anyway, I was committed.
I arrived to my destination still panting. Seriously. The
anticipation was killing me. No boats in site and the water
around the buoy
was as calm as it was near shore, which was great, but,
were there any
fish? I threw some chum as I suited up and a couple Mahi
came next to the boat to snatch it up. So now I knew there
SOME fish and the pressure was off! I exhaled a huge sigh
of relief, sat
down and started to focus.
All my anxieties left me as soon as I entered the water,
it was like someone gave me a drug. Have you ever been
give you laughing gas? I felt like everything was alright,
everyone was my friend, I hadn't a care in the world. A
pack of 20 Mahi
swam right up to me and I didn't even bother loading my
gun, I just watched
them eat the chum. I noticed the largerst Mahi kept its
distance and a close weary eye on me. I could see a recent
its back, possibly caused by another diver.
My first drift pass the buoy was purely to observe and
to scout the area. I quickly realized the largest fish
for now, was
the Mahi with the scar and if I speared any other fish
but it first than I would likely never get a shot on it
And waited. It took me 9 drifts past the buoy before I
could get a shot
off. Wow, that was one cautious Mahi... and even though
it wasn't a big Mahi I felt my patience payed off and it
a good hunt.
After landing the one I was trying for, it was open season!
It was all
about getting the sequentially largest ones from the group
and feeding my friends and neighbors. I also realized the
stalking of the first
Mahi took quite a bit of time and I was already pushing
due to the "alert," and I really didn't want a good day to
turn disastrous by getting caught in some serious weather.
I ended up with four Mahi and one Ono. Not bad for a day
off and doing nothing. As for resting on my day off...
nap at work.
June 29, 2009
This one is easy... not too much to say. I jumped in the water, within
1 minute I saw four nice Ono swimming casually below, dropped down,
one swam straight up to me, so I shot it. Pulled him up and put
it in the cooler. I reloaded, moved the boat back up current and
jumped in again. Another Ono appears, I drop down, he comes right
up and turns broadside, so I shot it. Put him in the cooler and
drove home. Ten minutes total time from the time I pulled up to
the buoy. Life is soooo rough.
June 19, 2009
My friend Jeff, who I have had many great spearfishing
adventures in the past, called me and wanted to introduce a couple
friends visiting from out of town to spearfishing. He even went
as far to say they would like to swim with some sharks. Ha ha,
be careful what you ask for.
Preparing myself mentally for a day on the boat with three guests,
I was very relaxed and content with the idea of just playing captain
for the day without
the need to get in the water or spear a fish. I asked Jeff if he wanted to get
in and check the first buoy we came to and he agreed. Shortly after entering
the water he pulled a Mahi to the boat. We were all surprised at the short time
it took him to put the first fish in the cooler. He mentioned there were several
more fish swimming around so I suggested that Jeff's two guests get in the water
to see what it's like.
The rest of the Mahi became wary with all the bodies in the water
because they stayed far in the distance, Jeff said. The two guests
got back onto the boat
and within a minute or two Jeff had another Mahi. Pretty cool. With two fish
on the boat in less than five minutes we decided to try our luck at another
Striking gold. Well, almost. Jeff dropped in again just to check
things out. Right away he came back with a nice Ono and says, “There are a lot of fish
down there,” in this calm sort of understated voice. I took his hint, suited
up and jumped in. Five Mahi came up within a few feet from my mask followed shortly
by four Ono about ten feet below the surface. Looking further, about fifty feet
down I see thousands of Aku circling the buoy chain as far as the eye could see
doing the mating dance with each other. All this action was within the first
two minutes. God, I love summer time!!!
Jeff stayed on the boat to hang out with his friends while I was
in the water. I decided not to squeeze on any of the Mahi or Ono
because I wanted to see
something huge and I got the feeling the Mahi and Ono would stick around.
After about ten
minutes and many visits from various game fish I decided to let loose.
One Ono, than a Mahi, than an Ono and while I was pulling up the
Ono Jeff handed
gun so I could shoot a passing Mahi. Than another Mahi and another Ono...
I honestly lost track. All I knew was my arms were getting tired from pulling
All in all, I think we ended up with about five Mahi and five Ono...
and there were a lot more to be had. We actually got bored with shooting
to the lack of difficulty. There was no sport in it. They just swam up
to us. What else can I say, we headed home with a heavy cooler and lots
share with friends, family and neighbors. And over the next week or so
we unexpectedly received an amazing assortment of fruit, vegetables and
in return for
the fish. NICE!
June 12, 2009
If you have been alive more than, say, a few years,
then you understand the concept of “sharing” or “giving
back.” But scientists (me) only recently discovered that it's
possible to experience both pleasure and pain when sharing or giving
Please keep in mind I do not share my adventures to point fingers
or blame at anyone. Actually, if you have read my journals consistently
you would notice
I rip in myself quite regularly. The purpose of this is to help anyone reading
these things to pick up subtle, and sometimes not to subtle, tips as to possibly
help you become a better diver by not making the same mistakes we/I do.
I went out with a friend of mine for the third weekend in a row
trying to help him shoot his first pelagic fish. The first two times
didn't turn out too good
for him so I was feeling a bit bummed because I couldn't help my friend get
a fish. I tried to explain a few “guide lines” to help improve his
- If you don't have a great shot then DON'T take it. Sorry,
but I am not a believer in Hail Mary shots. The idea behind not
a less than perfect
is this, if you don't take the shot you will appear to the fish as
unaggressive, and if you appear unaggressive then the fish will
not be afraid of you
and will come back around. Conversely, if you take a bad shot
and miss the fish,
worse, hit the fish poorly and the fish rips off right away, then the
likelihood you will ever see that fish again is very slim. Of course
there are exceptions
to my number 1 rule, but you get the idea.
- Do not CHASE the fish. The best thing you can do is not to
do anything. I have seen this billions of times where I will ask
not to chase
and they reply with, ok,” then they chase the fish. So, I ask
them again, please don't chase the fish and they will say, “I'm
not, but, ok,” and
then they chase the fish again. So, I will ask them again using a
slightly different method, STOP SWIMMING AFTER THE DAMB FISH LIKE
IT'S A DAMB RACE, and they will
reply with, “I'M NOT CHASING THE DAMB FISH!!! So, I will calmly
explain, when you are “following” the fish or trying
to “close the distance” between
you and the fish THAT is considered CHASING them, and they calmly
NOT doing that.” So I say, ok... I'm going to stay right next
to you and when you start CHASING them I am going to grab your leg
and pull you back, ok?
They say, “FINE!” So... guess what... I pull them back
again and again and again and again... until finally they say, “Oh
my god, I didn't realize I was even moving.” Ahhhhhh the light
goes on : ) Of course there are exceptions to my number 2 rule, but
you get the
- Don't swim around with your gun extended in front of you
and your hand on the handle and your finger on the trigger. For
is never a good idea but also from the fishes' perspective you
may appear to them
like a 14 foot Marlin and the objective is to look less intimidating,
not more. Also, your arm will get tired quickly. But another feature
if you swim
around with your gun extended, it generally means you are excited
and/or tense, which is going to give the fish an uneasy feeling
- Don't stare at the fish. Simple. Your mother probably taught
you that one along with, don't point your finger at people. Well,
concept. If you stare at a fish they will become wary and uneasy.
Pointing your speargun
(or your finger) at a fish can also make them uneasy. So staring
at them anxiously
AND pointing your gun at them is probably not a good combination
to attract fish.
So, to put all of these in relative terms, let's say you are 6
feet tall. With your long blade fins and your speargun extended,
like a 14 foot Marlin. And a 14 foot Marlin would weigh roughly,
say, 400 pounds. Let's say the fish you are trying to spear is
3 feet long
and you want that fish so you are going to chase that thing to
the end of earth and you don't want to lose track of that fish so
glued to its every move as you chase it around, then, as you out-pace
the fleeting creature, you are going to take a Hail Mary shot and
see IF by
you might hit it. Do you see any problem with this scenario?
Try this on for size... imagine yourself in a wide open area, like
a huge park, and there is a guy with a sharp object in his hand
a ways away from
fact, he is 28 feet tall and weighs in at around 1600 pounds
and he has
a sharp object
in his hand. You notice this guy is now running towards you and
staring at you as he approaches. As this 28 foot tall 1600 pound
this sharp object at your head. So... would you run away or would
you calmly walk toward him? Well, this is basically what you
of a fish.
And I got the relative sizes from the above 3 foot long 50 pound
fish compared to the
14 foot 400 pound Marlin chasing it, in case you are wondering.
So, why am I explaining all of this and what does this have to
do with sharing or giving back and the pain/pleasure in doing
my friend to shoot his first pelagic fish, but after three
days and making the
SAME mistakes over and over, basically, he was shooting at
a lot of fish and scaring
them away. I managed to get a few anyway but after a billion
missed shots from my friend and him chasing the fish around
made it a
bit more difficult
Ok, I'm finished crying now : (
Again, keep in mind the purpose of these stories is to help
anyone reading these things to pick up subtle, and sometimes
subtle, tips as
to possibly help
you become a better diver by not making the same mistakes
we/I do. Ok? Ok.
May 29, 2009
This is ridiculous... As if last weekend wasn't good
enough, this weekend was, at least, equally nuts. We just started
season here and I'm already sick of eating fish, my neighbors near
home are sick of eating fish, my neighbors near work are sick of
eating fish... what is a poor man to do? Oh, and did I mention
The calmness of the water inside of a marina/harbor is such that
a moored vessel doesn't move vertically or laterally. In other words,
its as calm as a swimming
pool. Well, Scott and I were out about 20 miles off shore and the water was
as calm as if we were moored inside the marina, and we were traveling
about 30 miles
an hour. Ya, its hard to imagine for us to, and we were there!
On a day like this, a person can see for miles due to the calm
conditions, so it is hard to resist the temptation to break out from
the norm, like going to
the FADs to check for fish. This is the kind of day to “chance it” and
go looking for floating debris, something that you normally couldn't find on
the usual windy days. Of course, there is always the chance you will find a lot
Luckily, about an hour and a half after leaving the marina we found
a debris/trash line, and there were fish everywhere! From the boat
we could see all kinds of
interesting creatures around the debris like hand-sized pelagic frog fish,
jelly fish, crabs and “thingies” that I don't even know what or how to
classify them as a fish or... well, thingies? Oh, did I mention there were no
boats within 20 miles?
We couldn't see any large game fish from the surface so we jumped
in and tossed some chum to attract whatever predator might be in
the area. As the chum drifted
to about 30-40 feet below I spotted two Ono coming up from behind and below
Scott angling toward the chum. I made a slow drop and the larger
of the two Ono swam
straight up to me for an easy shot. He turned out to weigh 25 pounds but he
pulled me around like he was much larger. Good fun. I boated the
fish and reloaded.
Upon getting back into the water I spied Scott swimming in a slow
but purposeful direction. I could faintly make out 4 ghostly images
near him in the shape of
Ono mixed in with a billion hoggie (pelagic trigger fish), what a great visual!
Scott dove toward the Ono as I ever-so-gently swim in his direction just so
I can watch the action unfold. He lines up a shot and fires at the
in the group. He misses and the 4 Ono flinch and start slowly swimming off
as they try and figure out in their little fishy brains what just
I know that fish brains work a little slower than most human brains so I took
the opportunity to make a drop on the largest of the small pack, which happen
to be the same fish Scott had just missed. The Ono seem to swim right at me
as if it was challenging me to try again. I think I even saw him
bare his teeth
and snarl at me, so... I shot him. This 20 pounder didn't fight as hard at
the first one but he still pulled me around a bit. And while he was
pulling me through
the water I took a look around to see where the Silky shark might be. I didn't
see the shark at this point but I did see Scott franticly reloading his gun
while a 20+ pound Ono watched him about a foot away from his fins.
Classic! To make
things worse, in a comical way, the Ono that was kissing Scott's fins swam
ever-so-calmly right to me, about one foot from my fins, to see what
I was up to. I pulled my
knife out to see if I could stab him in the brain as he swam by but the Ono
I had speared pulled hard right at the wrong moment, so I missed
Ha, oh well.
I boated the second Ono and got back in the water. While I was
reloading I saw the Silky shark cruising deep below. I noticed Scott,
once again, focused on
something in the distance. As I move closer I see two Mahi come into view,
which the larger of the two is heading cautiously right for Scott.
I can see Scott's
anxiousness as he follows the Mahi's every move with his extended gun aiming
from the surface, swing it side to side as the Mahi changes direction again
and again. He fires from a distance, hits the fish but only enough
to poke a hole
in it. With one shake it comes free and the two Mahi swim off together. I hear
Scott yell underwater. Third shot for the day and third miss. Ouch, that's
A few 5-7 pound Aku (skipjack tuna) were swimming around so Scott
decided to take a shot on the speeding bullet AND HIT IT! I couldn't
believe it. The speeding
bullet became a bleeding bullet and the shark took action. It came in and removed
the Aku tail with one bite and tried to eat the rest head first but Scott manged
to pulled it free and secured the rest. Ha ha, more comedy!
While Scott was boated his bleeding speeding bullet a small Ono
decided to check out the commotion. I knew it was small but I just
wanted to twist Scott's tail
a little more. I dropped down a few feet, took aim and stoned it. I pulled
it up onto the boat a total of about 10-15 seconds after Scott pulled
He just smiled, put his head down and shook his head.
May 22, 2009
Man, what a welcome change. Not only were the trade
winds completely nonexistent but there was NO fog at all, the water
was oily calm for a million miles off shore and we came home with
fish! Well, someone lost a spear shaft. But what a day.
My new motors are having fuel issues so I can't go full speed without
it sputtering badly, I love ethanol. No I don't use ethanol any
more but I was one of the unlucky
many that did for a while until we figured out it was ruining everything to do
with boating and the powers-that-be started offering non-ethanol fuel. Anyway,
due to the calm water 30 mph felt like we were sitting still but Scott and I
were just happy to be enjoying this unbelievable Friday.
The first buoy had nothing on it at all. We didn't even bother
getting wet. So, ten miles out we went looking for trash lines with
high hopes of finding our
own little goldmine. Off to the starboard side I noticed what looked like a
Dolphin dorsal fin sticking out of the water but as we approached
we noticed it was two
Marlin slowly swimming along the surface sunbathing. Wow, you don't see that
every day in Hawaii, so I tried my best and position the boat up ahead to try
and intercept them but every time we would get close they would just disappear.
Time and time again we tried to no avail, so reluctantly we moved on.
A little further down the coast we found somewhat of a holy grail.
It was a substantial net and we were the only boat within 20 miles.
It wasn't loaded
with fish but
it had enough. Scott and I slid into the water quietly and swam calmly toward
the flotilla. We were greeted by two very healthy Ono but they were a little
shy and disappeared deep below. After about ten minutes I noticed the ghostly
image of one Ono about seventy feet deep blending in perfectly with this
warming, planktonic blooming, springtime water. My slow calm descent
caught the Onos
curiosity and he turned to intercept my path. Turning perfectly broadside,
I took the shot.
Ahhhhh, I love when my floater skips along the surface of the water... Oh
Two sharks appear and go ripping after my speared fish. Well, I
know as long as my fish is swimming fast then the sharks will never
catch it, but that
thought was quickly dismissed when my line went slack. I started pulling
hand as fast as I could, then, BOOM, my line started whizzing away again.
My 75 foot
bungee was stretched to its maximum down and away so I couldn't see a thing,
I was playing the fish by feel. When the fight would ease up, I would pull
as hard as I could, when it wanted to run, I let it. Simple. But what made
tricky was trying to read the actions of the Ono through feel as if I had
two sharks chasing after me.
At one point, about two minutes into the fight I saw the Ono swimming
straight up at me for protection from the sharks but as I moved the
barrel of my
gun forward to fend off the sharks the Ono realized I wasn't whatever
hoping I was.
Eventually the sharks got tired of chasing the Ono and the Ono got tired
of running, which of course made me happy. As the Ono relaxed and slowed
I allowed it
to dangle about 50 feet below in hopes of attracting another Ono for
Scott to shoot ,while I kept an eye on the sharks that were now circling
distance. The tactic worked as another Ono came in to investigate his
down and lined up for a shot. I noticed he had to fight a bit to get
down to the Ono as if he didn't have enough weight. He stopped kicking
about thirty feet, as he should, but his descent immediately halted as
well. He once again picked up his cadence and attempted somewhat of a
with a fairly new 140 or 150 cm gun and missed. He had also decided to
tag line from his shooting line because it was pulling the bungee off
the line release. So, I guess you could say his new gun shot about
his spear is now on the bottom of the ocean. Double whammy, ouch!
I pulled my Ono up and secured it on the boat. Luckily Scott had
brought another gun so we got back in the water. I told Scott that
Ono was his and
that I wanted to shoot a small Kamanu (rainbow runner) that was hanging
around for sashimi. Well, my suggestion didn't last very long as three
Ono swam straight up to me like I was a piece of bait or something.
I could have
speared any one of them with a pole spear if I had one handy. To make
myself feel better for fibbing to Scott about letting him shoot the “second” Ono
was that there were in fact three more, not just one, like we had previously
thought. Right...? That's logical...well, in my mind it was. Plus, he was about
fifty feet away at the moment I saw the small pack of Ono coming up, so that
sealed the deal.
I dropped down to about twenty feet and leveled off. I aimed at
the largest of the three and let it fly. This time the Ono pulled
at a blistering
pace pulling me through the water creating a wake like the bow of
a steaming ship. I looked over at Scott and I could tell he was half-laughing
me being pulled around and half-pissed because I shot his fish. Once
again the sharks
gave chase but not for very long. They realized very quickly they
never going to catch it, like the first Ono, so they just circled
again from a
distance. I told Scott to keep an eye out for the other Onos but
the other two only came
within visual, not close enough for a shot.
I felt a little guilty for shooting the second Ono but what was
a guy supposed to do??? It practically impaled itself on my spear.
the Onos fault
for coming so close, not mine. Right? Right. And to make things
worse, I got
back in and speared the Kamanu. We saw one Ono a little later but
he was like a billion feet deep and snobbing us.
Each Ono weighed about 33 pounds each and the Kamanu about 10 pounds,
so with enough fish to feed all of our friends and family we
headed home. At this point
the weather had turned, it was victory at sea and we almost lost
The wind had picked up to about one mile per hour and the swells
picked up to about
one inch high. It was scary.
March 6, 2009
With the Blue Water Hunter's 10th Annual Spearfishing
tournament three weeks away I took a day off work to do some scouting.
in the blue water not only requires slightly different equipment
than reef diving but also different techniques for finding them,
spearing them and last but definitely not least, landing them.
And sometimes the fish you're trying to spear have a spear of there
To set the stage, Hawaii has been under a rainy, stormy, gray
blanket of clouds for about a full week or almost two which is
the Big Island. My friends Bill Morris and Darlene Azure were up
for the wet challenge of going out on the boat and braving the
harsh conditions. In reality, it turned out to be pretty much glassy
with light sprinkles/rain all day.
After talking story we get a
bit of a "late" start at
around 9:00 am. We pulled up to the first buoy, which is a ten
minute run from Bill's house. We jump in the freezing cold 73 degree
winter water. Yes, we're spoiled. To our surprise we noticed
a myriad of bait fish with some small Ahi almost large enough to
for, but we held off. After a few drifts we were back on the
boat contemplating our next move when we all noticed a disturbance
off on the horizon. Since we hadn't seen anything worth calling
home about at this first buoy we decided to check out whatever
on further off shore.
Now, about seven miles off shore floating in 8,000 feet of water,
we realize the disturbance is being caused by a pod of common
Dolphin found in Hawaii known as Stino or Rough Tooth Dolphin.
usually travel side-by-side and in a relatively uniform direction,
whereas these Stino's were acting very strange and swimming randomly
in all directions but seem to be converging in one general area.
Bill and I slid quietly into the water from the boat and were
instantly swarmed by a school of small 5-12 pound Mahi Mahi (Dorado).
was obvious now that these Mahi were on the lowest position in
frenzy and the Stino's were just toying with them like a cat
and mouse game.
Bill and I hung around to witness some of the action, contemplating
a shot on the largest of the small Mahi. Seeing only bait fish
like Opelu and a few small Ahi swim by in the deep, Bill and
I made a
half-hearted attempt to get one or two of the sandwich size Mahi.
But I just couldn't get myself to squeeze on one of these little
green bullets going by, so I held off. And a good thing I did.
As I watched the school of Mahi swim by they suddenly turned
around and zipped past me as fast as they could go. I knew what
because I had seen it many times before, so I stuck my gun in
the general direction of the Mahi's retreat, and here it came
it's glory, an unmistakable Pacific Blue Marlin. I should have
been afraid considering the Marlin was swimming straight at me
20-30 miles an hour in Mahi attack mode, but I didn't have time
to be. I was focused on what I needed to do and getting excited,
or nervous just wasn't an option.
Imagine a Jousting duel between yourself and a Knight in shinning
armor with a long, sharp stick, who is bigger, stronger and by
far more agile than you, on a horse in full sprint and you are
in molasses trying to position yourself for a defensive, or,
if luck should have it, an offensive maneuver so at least you
a limb or your life and at best, well, you get to eat your assailant.
Lucky for me, this is merely a Marlin with a brain much smaller
than a Knight. It quickly realizes I am not a fleeting Mahi but
traveling at blurring speed, it turns slightly to my left intending
to pass by still pursuing lunch. It's to late, my thoughts translate
to action as I squeeze down on the trigger and the needle-sharp
spear of my own skewers the shoulder of the Marlin sending it
into an instantaneous
reversal of direction so fast it is out of sight before I know
I see my small foam float bulleting toward my head so I grab
on and go for a ride. My bungee tag line is fully stretched,
nearly ripped from my face and I can't breath because the force
of the water is creating a wake before me like a ships bow in
rough seas. But my thoughts are of my terminal gear giving way
intense pressure, not of the essential breath of life. I'm a
freediver, I'll breath later when I have time. Until I realize
is not slowing down, it's actually speeding up. My priorities
change with every passing second and I can tell the pressure
my own body weight, as it would feel on land when hanging by
one hand. Something needs to give and that something is me. Letting
of my tag line I say to myself a few words of hope, hope to see
my equipment again as it speeds away ten feet under the surface,
better yet, hope the fish will still be attached when I catch
I look down and see a Bronze Whaler shark in hot pursuit of the
Marlin, as if the odds of landing such a powerful fish weren't
up against me, a hungry shark is now added to the equation. They
both race out of sight. All I can do is hope my tried and tested
equipment does it's job and the Marlin is able to keep the shark
at bay, at least until I get there to help. A hundred yards ahead
I see my float waving like a bobble-head from the downward and
forward pull of the Marlin. By the time I reach it the float
but not moving. I grab on but get pulled under slowly yet steadily,
I'm forced to let go. I watch my float ever-so-slowly get pulled
to about fifty feet below the surface, than just stop. It just
sits there while the shark swims circles around the float. Yes,
is doing circles around the float, not the fish, so for now things
I wait and wait for the float to come back toward the surface.
Bill asks me, "Do you want my gun for a back-up shot?" I
responded, I'd rather have your tag line and float at the moment,
so he detached
the clip from his gun and handed it to me. I took a breath and
dove down, keeping an eye on the shark to my side and any sign
Marlin below, clipped on Bill's tag line to the back of my float
and swam back to the surface before the shark changed its mind.
It didn't take long before I could see the eerie, intimidating
shape and size of my opponent, the Pacific Blue, a hundred or
below. I watched the eyeball carefully as I pulled hand over
hand toward the surface. I was looking for any sign that the
might wake up for one last run to get away or worse, to tear
Bill or I
to shreds with it's razor sharp sandpaper-like sword of a nose.
Grabbing the spear shaft gently I roll the fish to its back I
secured my hand
through it's gills. A few small shutters and the Marlin succumbs
to this jousting battle. What a magnificent creation of mother
nature and worthy opponent, I think to myself. Thank you for
giving me your
life, for that I will always cherish my friend. You will forever
though I consider this fish a prize catch, I am well aware it is
not a record, therefore, due to the location of our trailer
was not convenient to drive the Marlin to the Harbor for an "official"
weight. However, Bill has a certified digital scale at his house
opted to weigh it there. The only remaining problem now was the
scale was limited to 100 pounds. Not knowing how big the fish
actually was we chose to cut the tail third of the fish to weigh
we cut the head from the mid section and weighed each third separately.
The total added up to exactly 200 pounds. How much weight was
lost during the cutting of the fish is unknown.
March 2, 2009
I know guys don't read directions and I am no exception. And when
you are hunting with a camera instead of a speargun its very important
to know how to use it. Especially because situations arise that many
times can't be reproduced.
with Bill and Jeff again was sure to bring some action. And as I
have said many times in the past, its not always about the fish you
bring home, its about the adventure behind the scenes. Early on in
our day we came across a cave where Ulua like to rest during heavy
currents, but there wasn't hardly any current. Jeff and I dove for
the cave with low expectations due to the mild conditions. To my
pleasant surprise, because I'm the guy with the camera, the cave
had four very girthy white tip reef sharks resting two-by two on
either side of the cave but no Ulua for the guy with the twitchy
trigger finger next to me.
It took a little convincing but both Jeff and Bill took turns diving
down to the cave so I could practice lining up some shots with them
and the sharks. Both guys and the sharks were extremely cooperative
and I was snapping pictures I thought would make National Geographic
without a doubt. Ya right. ALL of them came out black. I messed with
a few pictures on the computer enough so the image is viewable but
nowhere near what I was hoping for.
headed a little further south and came across an area I am very familiar
with only because I know billions of people dive there, but I've
actually never dove there myself for that same reason. This time
I brought my gun. Bill and I jumped in just to check it out while
Jeff maned the boat. Bill and I stayed together for about a minute
and than he disappeared swimming after something. I noticed I was
very close to the drop-off so I gave a few kicks and checked it out
while floating calmly on the surface. I turned around to check my
six o'clock and noticed a good size Uku swimming very slowly close
to the bottom. I turned around, swam back to where he was and dove
very slowly. He let me get right down on top of him for an easy head
shot a few feet from the tip of my gun. NICE, I thought! One shot,
my favorite fish, I'm done. I called the boat over, cleaned the fish
and threw it in the cooler ready for fresh sashimi or on the grill.
Jeff ended up landing a very nice Mu and in the process let us
know there were two more Uku and they were trying to eat his fish.
I jumped in and was able to locate one of the Uku but it was way
to smart for any tricks we had to bring him in close enough for a
shot. After a while Jeff and I ended up back on the boat defrosting
from the relative cold and rehydrating ourselves so Bill took the
opportunity to get back it. Almost right away Bill started seeing
Uku's. He even mentioned seeing, “the largest Uku he's ever
seen.” That's all I needed to here and I was right back in
the water, chattering teeth and all.
again, we swam around for a while but couldn't get anything to come
in close enough. Now both Bill and Jeff had enough. The sun had disappeared
behind clouds several hours ago and the wind was blowing hard. I
asked the guys to throw any remaining chum to see if anything might
come in, and it did indeed. Another Uku, and it was fat. I would
say a solid 25 pounds or more. But, once again, he was smart. However,
with a lot of patience I was able to get the Uku to come in for a
shot. And oh boy did I pay for it. This thing took off like an Ahi
and I couldn't slow it down. I could see up ahead a tall rock and
I told myself, if he gets to that rock and wraps himself around it
there will be nothing I can do.
situations like this a diver has to weigh out the odds. Because if
you pull to hard to keep a fish from entangling itself you might
cause the shaft or line to rip through the soft flesh. And if it
does rip off you will be angry with yourself for pulling too hard.
On the other hand, if the fish is successful and entangling itself
and ripping off you will be angry with yourself for not pulling hard
enough. Well, I chanced the later of the two and he ripped off from
entangling itself and he bent a brand new 5/16 diameter shaft, where
the only other fish I had shot with this new shaft was the Uku earlier
in the day. Hmmm, maybe I should have pulled harder.
February 23, 2009
Oh boy, I need to start training again. I thought spearfishing
was difficult but if you have ever tried filming with an underwater
video camera or a large, bulky underwater still camera, the extra
weight and bulk really slows you down. That can be a major problem
coming up from a deep dive or fighting a heavy current miles off
shore without a boat to pick you up.
I just picked up a slightly used digital camera and underwater
housing set-up from the legend, Carlos Eyles, which alone will help
me take better pictures,
right? Ya, right. At least I know if the system is good enough for him than
its good enough for me.
I decided to go up north to scout out some
new areas and to hopefully get a chance to try out the new camera
gear. On board I had a C4X for big game, a
gun with a reel on it for reef game, an underwater video set-up and my new
underwater still camera, so I guess you could say I was ready for anything.
The weather was abnormally calm, even for Kona. The wind, rather
than picking up throughout the day, actually subsided to a calm
breeze. I found a nice
reef with towering pinnacles, pristine coral and a steep drop-off so I
anchor the boat and check it out. Surprisingly, the reef didn't sustain
as much marine life as I would expect given the location and structure
reefs vary day to day due to currents, tides and water temperature, so
I didn't write this spot off, I simply made a mental notation.
the inside 10-20 foot depth I noticed a lack of living coral and
fish life, which is common in wave prone areas. Its an indicator
regularly gets hammered by large surf. The mid zone, 20-50 foot depth
water appeared to
be prime grounds for a variety of common reef inhabitance and the occasional
migratory marauding predators, but, to no avail. I noted the lack of
broken coral in this mid zone, which is an indicator of little or
And if there
are no anchors, there are no divers, and if there are no divers than
there should be lots of fish. But there are not, so where they went
is a mystery
Next, I checked the drop-off, which at this spot was about 50
foot depth sloping nicely to infinity within a few meters out.
The drop sustained
a mild current
but limited bate fish and somewhat of a planktonic bloom that had a
tendency to muddy up the visibility in parts, which is always a bit
when diving a new spot and deep water, where your mind starts playing
you and images seem to appear that are not really there. Or are they?
took a dive to a rock at the top of the drop about fifty feet down.
I settled on the bottom and was inundated with Humpback whale sounds
could feel their songs reverberate through my chest and stomach.
Was it these sounds
that were scaring all the fish away? It didn't seem likely, however
the discomfort at the level of the whale songs rivaled a Harley Davidson
at full throttle.
I was imagining the Dog Whisperer jabbing an aggressively barking
dog in the chest
and saying, “Chhhet... chhhet.” or a human baby in full,
high pitch temper tantrum in a movie theater. I was looking around
thinking, man, this whale
must be right behind me or something. I swam back to the surface
and looked around. There were whales spouting ALL around me. I was
my fins so hard upwards
to see as far as I could it felt like I was walking on water. To
my right I heard what sounded like a giant balloon deflating rapidly.
With my head far above the
water I could clearly make out the shape of a Humpback whales dorsal
fin protruding several feet above the surface. My spirit almost jumped
out of my body when I
lowered my head back underwater and I saw two (2) HUGE figures, one,
a few feet below the surface and the other about 20 feet down, slowly
and calmly swimming
in an intersecting coarse with me. As if it couldn't get more exciting,
swimming right along with the whales were about twenty (20) Bottlenose
What am I to do? So many thoughts are rushing through my
its illegal to swim with Humpback whales... but what if they swim
I swim away or will they chase me like fleeting prey? Are these
me like a piece of plankton... or wait until they pass than flick
me with its tail fifty feet in the air like a Killer whale does
to a Sea
I get between them, will they sandwich me and squish me like a
grape? Since their
position set me almost perfectly between them I decided to swim
to one side just in case they didn't see me. To my dismay both whales
AT me and
up their pace as if to catch me. I freaked! I thought to myself,
there is no way I can make it back to the boat or the shore in
instinct turned into fight, which I know was stupid considering
a bit of a size difference but what else am I going to do??? Hay,
years or so when the whale washes up on a beach somewhere someone
might notice a broken fingernail stuck in the whales tail and remember
story of a
guy that fought off a Humpback whale. Or not.
Oh ya, I will fight
them off with this thing in my hand. Wait, I have a camera in my
hand I completely forgot about due to contemplation
policy. Taking a picture was superseded by thoughts of my agent
beside me on the hospital bed asking, so how did you get 27 broken
ribs, six broken
legs, twelve broken arms and a broken finger nail? Than I snapped
of it and remembered I can take picture of my assailant, for
or whoever found the camera with my hand still attached would
know exactly who or what had eaten me.
Technique and composition went
completely off the spectrum of creativity. I felt lucky to have
even got a picture with anything
in the frame,
I was noticeably shaking with excitement when I made it back
to the boat. I ate a snack and tried to get back in the water
point. I was done.
For my first time out with the new set-up
I'm stoked to have experienced these incredible things, to have
gotten the pictures
that I did
and I look forward
to next weekend for sure. Until than, dive safe. And when
your significant other asks you why you are filing your finger nails
before you go
diving, just tell
them you knew this guy who fought a whale...