How's the Diving on the Big Island of Hawaii?
An ongoing series of freediving journals
by Rob White
January 1, 2008
Over the last few dives I have been trying out some relatively new gear and visiting
some old-school equipment ie. the three-prong. I can't tell you how much fun
it has been and how much it has helped my overall spearfishing. I guess Bruce
Lee was right, it's all about balance.
If you haven't read Bruce Lee's book titled “Tao of Jeet Kune Do” I
would highly recommend you do. Even if you're not into martial arts, Bruce Lee's
philosophy are valid throughout all aspects of life. It's been years since I
have read it myself so I will stay away from quoting him but I can tell you that
it has helped ground me and allowed me to be more open minded and accepting of
things I may or may not be able to control in life, even years after reading
it. And yes, spearfishing fits in there with a part of life.
Anyone who has ever played a sport understands the concept of basics
or fundamentals. These basics and fundamentals are what the base
of any sport are made from,
and then as one masters the basics they move on to more “advanced” skills
and levels. For me, I have been chasing the dream of large trophy fish for some
time now that I feel my “base” is suffering. So, going back to the
equipment I used as a kid I think will help me regain some of the basic skills,
which will in turn help my overall ability as a spearfisherman.
In my last journal, I mentioned I used an 8 foot three-prong (aka.
pole spear) and a 90 cm. Spetton pipe gun with a single rubber band
for the day and I
had a blast. This weekend I used a “HammerHead” brand 110 cm. pipe “rail” gun
with two soft 9/16 red rubber bands, which is a long gun to shoot reef fish,
by Hawaii standards, but the soft rubber bands makes for easy loading and firing,
if one has a tendency to shoot rocks... like me. The most limiting factor on
the gun was the single wrap of mono shooting line. I'm accustomed to my Riffe
Competitor #4 with about twenty (20') feet of range, depending on which shaft
and bands I have on it at the time, but the HammerHead will only allow me about
eight to ten (8'-10') feet... which is quite a difference! So, the end result
is that I will be forced to get very close to the fish before I pull the trigger.
And the best way to get close to the fish on a regular basis and not ruin the
spear shaft is to lay on the bottom and wait until the fish come to me... which
can take some time here in the clear water because they see you coming a mile
away. Well, I guess I'll be working on my bottom time as well...
It helped me knowing that I had to get close to the fish before
I could spear them to get in the proper mind set, rather than trying
to shoot them
down-town. And the results were promising. I didn't land every fish I
went after, which
had to do more with my freediving and hunting skills than the gun, but
I was very satisfied with what I did get. It took me a little while to
the “new” gun
but once I figured it out I was whacking everything in the head. I found that
the light rubber bands didn't negatively effect the shot if the fish was right
in front of me but if I tried to shoot the fish on the run I had to lead the
fish by more than I am comfortable doing because the shaft moved relatively slow.
But if I increased the power to gain speed in the spear shaft to track better
I couldn't enjoy the smooth “no recoil” firing and I would also have
to watch out not to hit rocks. So, power has trade-offs.
Overall, I was happy with the Kumus, Kalis and Uhus that I got
because they were nice size and they are all great eating fish. I
weekends adventures. Hmmm... I wonder what equipment I should try next
and what part
myself I should improve upon? What would Bruce Lee suggest?
April 13, 2008
I was the kid who never listened to
his parents, or anyone for that matter. If someone told me not
to touch something because it was hot, I would touch it.
If they said it tasted bad, I would eat it. Well, some things I grew out of
and others I didn't, or at least I think about the consequences
before I try it for
myself. My point is, I still like to test things for myself but I do actually
listen to what people tell me also. See mom, you don't have to worry... as
I guess you can say one of the perks of the job is to try out all
the equipment so, once again, I know for myself how it works. Now,
before I go on, I feel
the need to explain that I am really not the Riffe fanatic many people think
I just like reliable equipment that last a long time at a good price. Don't
tell the Riffe's this but if someone came up with a better piece of equipment
a better price, I would probably use it. But the reality is, after all the
equipment I have tried and tested I keep going back to a Riffe... I don't
know man... with
like a million guns in the Riffe line-up to choose from and a billion ways
to set up each gun how can you go wrong? Anyway, this is sounding more like
than a journal.
The reason I wrote that long paragraph above, qualifying my thoughts
about Riffe guns, is because for the first time in about ten (10)
years of using
Riffe C4X, I actually picked up a new gun for myself called a Riffe Euro
100 cm. Some people have commented it looks the same as my C4X but
to those of
you who know the equipment by experience, it's very different. I added a
to make it more to my personal likings, like a reel, shorter rubber bands
and a larger 9/32 x 57” Hawaiian shaft with large tabs. So, to summarize
my findings about this piece of equipment set up the way I did, I must say
impressed! I could go on but this is a journal of a day of diving, not an ad.
My friends Jeff, Danny and I took the boat out for one purpose,
to find Ulua... and the stray Uku if it happened along. I was trying
to redeem myself after
a heartbreaking loss of a HUGE Ulua a few weeks prior because my tag line
short and I couldn't get an appropriate shot on the fish inside a deep cave
and it broke free. Ahhh, it still hurts! I wanted a gun that wouldn't matter,
an extent, how deep I dove or how far I went into a cave to shoot a fish,
like being limited by a tag line, so the E100 with a reel on it was
choice to have plenty of power to hammer a big fish, about 200 feet of line
it back to the surface after shooting a beast and the durability to handle
things if it got out of control.
Well, we didn't find the beast but we still had a great day. Jeff
dove the first hole and while creeping into the cave at about 85
feet, he didn't notice
Ulua that was smelling his fins. By the time he turned around the fish was
out of range. We all drifted the next point that had blue water potential,
for Ulua and pinnacles for Uku but you really only have once chance for anything
that may come up, so you have to choose quickly. Jeff took the outside line
looking for the possible Ono and Mahi, Danny chose the point where the Uku
like to frequent
and I went looking to test my new gun on the Ulua hole.
After a fast drift and no pelagics, Jeff manned the boat while
Danny landed a nice sized Knife Jaw. He laughed when he told the
story of a huge Ulua that
up right after he shot the Knife Jaw. Hmmmm, oh well... Meanwhile, I dropped
down to the waiting area and up came three Omilu and a nice little White
Ulua about 40 pounds. I had to jab my gun at it so it wouldn't run
me over. When
it turned to the side, I fired. The Ulua started peeling off line as it swam
the cave and out the other side. Now, had I been using a tag line, this situation
could have gotten ugly. But rather, I was able to swim through the cave just
like the Ulua and out the other side without any tangles. Once I came out
the other side I just calmly swam to the surface and started working
Just from this one instance I learned many valuable lessons. One
lesson was that this relatively small Ulua, I say small because I
was looking for the
spooled almost all of my line by the time I made it back to the surface.
So, if it had in fact been a 100+ pounder it may have pulled the
gun right out
of my hand if the reel ran out of line! Some of you are laughing because
be obvious to you but I haven't used a reel in over 10 years. Bottom line,
the freedom is GREAT diving without a tag line but the consequences can also
At the next spot I wanted to film Danny shooting an Ulua or something
so Jeff remained on the boat for this fast pace ledge drift dive.
We were able to see
some really nice Ulua but the current was ripping, which made things very
tricky. I switched back to my gun and Danny traded spots with Jeff
as the boat man.
I drifted with Jeff just watching and another Ulua appeared swimming along
ledge, so Jeff dropped down. Jeffs approach was perfect and the Ulua swam
up to him and stopped about three feet off the tip of his gun looking
at Jeff. So, he pulled the trigger and hit the Ulua right between the eyes,
As Jeff was boating the fish and rigging his gear I continued to
drift along the ledge. Noticing a small overhang I dropped down to
check it and an Omilu
came out to greet me. I pulled the trigger and once again the fish swam out
the back door but I was able to follow it and retrieve all my gear unscathed.
We decided to pack up and move to a different location. I tried
defogging my mask by spitting in it instead of using Sea Drops which
was a big mistake.
We anchored up the boat so all of us could get in and cruise around, within
thirty seconds my mask had completely fogged up and I was flooding it with
water to temporarily clear it. Jeff and Danny were already loaded and ready
to go but
I had to swim back to the boat and use the Sea Drops. AMAIZING the difference
using good defog! By the time I jumped back in the water I noticed Jeff returning
from a deep dive. I couldn't quite see what he might have dove for but as
I was looking around I noticed Danny readying himself for a dive
which told me
I needed to know... something was down below.
I couldn't believe my eyes, it is normal to see Uku by themselves
or maybe two or three at the most but about six Uku in the 20-25
pound range were cruising
along the bottom with another 3-4 smaller ones! I can't remember what happened
next because we just all took turns dropping down on them to try and get
on some smart and illusive fish. Finally, I was able to drop down on top
of the entire school and had most of them within range so I shot
at the closest/largest
one I could get a bead on and stoned it. The rest of the Uku stayed around
a while longer but slowly started to disappear except for the largest one
in the whole school. We tried and tried but he was just too smart.
The drop-off was close by and a pile of Mu were hanging outside
so I drifted out to see if I could get a lucky shot. I dropped down,
took a long dive-bomb
shot and got one. Lastly, a small Moana Kali swam directly below and just
stopped to watch what I was doing. I dropped back down, laid on the
bottom and the
Kali impaled itself on my spear. By that time we all had enough and headed
the feast. Oh ya, did I mention I like the new gun?