NorCal Underwater Hunters Discussion > SCUBA Dive Reports and Discussion

BIG REPORT!! GWS, Lobster, Halibut and Photos

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WOW. This trip is going to be fun to type up with all the CRAZY things that went down!

I needed to be in Ventura harbor by 8p on Saturday to board the Peace Boat for a 3 day dive trip. I figured I'd come down to Simi Valley Friday night after work, stay with my good buddy and solid spearo, Daniel aka "Danstro." I knew I was going to beat my body up over the next few days, so heck, why not jump in at Leo Carillo Saturday morning for a free dive spear sesh with Daniel. It was great visibility, low swell, decent structure and super fishy. There were bugs (mostly small), tons of huge opal eye (gross), and a bunch of olives and calicos. I knew I wouldn't be keeping the fish (giving it to Daniel and his wife) so I wanted to be really picky with what I shot. We swam with huge bat rays, a curious seal, and 3 different types of bait balls. After about 3 hours in the water and choosing not to shoot anything, something caught my eye , a weird movement in the sand next to some structure. Hmmm... structure, sand, bait balls... what could it be?  :P BAM - a PR halibut. That makes 3 butts this year and too bad this one doesn't count for DOTY cause it was meaty.

Go back, fillet the fish, shower and drive back to Ventura to have dinner at the harbor and hop on the Peace boat. I've never been lobster diving before or staying on a boat for multiple days so I wasn't sure what to expect. We left harbor at 2am and I could hardly sleep a wink due to noise, motion and excitement. Shame on me for thinking this would be a relaxing dive trip. On deck for an epic sunrise and a "pre-breakfast") meal, suited up and dive 1 underway at Talcott Shoals (spl?). The rest of the trip was a rapid fire succession of eat, dive, eat, dive, eat, try not to pass out on the deck, dive, eat, nod off, dive, sleep, repeat... brutal. I'm so glad I spent a few weeks in the gym working on my swim/kick muscles. I'm ridiculously sore typing this with bandaged fingers and wrecked muscles, and I can't imagine how much worse off I'd be if I didn't get my body in a bit of shape before this trip. Without going chronologically, here are some of the highlights, some pictures and stories.
- Sunrise.

GREAT WHITE SHARK. On dive 2, I'm at 40' on the top of a ledge that drops to 55' swimming back to the boat with a bag full of bugs. Look left and 20' away is a GWS. I hoped it was something else, but it was unmistakable and the captain warned us they've been seeing them here. It's the 2nd time this year that I've swam with one but this time I didn't have my spear gun... The first great white at Del Monte Beach must have told this one that I'm pretty good at staring contests because it came in to check me out and then bounced. I was way less nervous this time around, but still dove to the bottom of the ledge and stayed tucked in while swimming a hundred yards back to the boat. The safety stop was pretty nerve racking though... floating in 15' of wide open water for 3 minutes while doing pirouettes to scan the waters for any big grey shadows. I decided to start wearing my shark shield for the rest of the trip. I think by now, I've earned my Great White poster that Amadeo Bachar signed for me "It's better to see them on your wall than in the water - Dive Safe" - Amadeo.

ELECTRIC RAY. So, I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. I remember Big Jim taking a photo of one and I even recalled that it was called an electric ray... however in that moment, it did not dawn on me that they are actually electric. It was slow swimming, so I came up behind it to pet it. What a dummy. Thankfully it just wanted a back scratch and didn't jack me up. I was told they can pack a serious punch. One guy described how he had one swim on top of his head and pop him which he said felt like he got hit with a baseball bat.

JELLY FISH. Got a nasty sting on day 1 that still hurts today. Right on the face. Awesome.

URCHINS. Ouch... they wrecked shop on me. Going for bug after bug, face to the ground, arm stuffed shoulder deep into a tiny ledge, surge pushing me up down and sideways. Needless to say I have like 4,000,000 spines, cuts and bumps all over my hands, knees, thighs and even in my scalp. Don't be surprised if I start a go fund me campaign for a new wet suit now that mine is a pin cushion =P

LOBSTER. So much lobster. Of 14 people on the boat, we all got over 15 bugs each. I got 17 which I hear isn't 1/2 bad for a newbie. Here is a picture of the 10#er. We decided to release the biggest bugs to go back to breed more. Catching a lobster is pretty freaking hard. First, you have to be fed and fully suited to be first in line to get in the water... then get your heading and jam in a direction to ensure you can hunt your own spot and not compete with another diver. Then you have to know where to look and be super fast. Then if you miss, you better have some darn good grip strength to hold on to the horns and try to wiggle them out. The worst part was looking way back into a 10' deep cave and seeing and absolutely gargantuan bug staring at you with no way whatsoever to get it. I completely missed around 30 bugs, got 30 that were under sized and came home with 17. Not bad.

SCALLOPS. They were literally everywhere with a 6" average. I took 20 of them and ate most of them raw.

SHEEPSHEAD. So. Many. huge. fish. They let you pet them and were always around no matter what. Some of the biggest fish I've swam with so far 20#+ at almost every spot. I should have waited to see the really big ones, but I got anxious, brought my Herranen 80 down with me, double banded it and put one straight through the brain of this huge guy. The crazy story was I almost lost my really nice new wood gun. It's like a $800 gun all things included. I had just shot the two fish in the pic and attached the stringer to the handle of my gun (in case the landlord visited, I could just let go of the gun instead of having the fish attached to me). I was handing it up to the deck hand right as I was about to get up on the swim step of the boat as a large swell came out of no where. Ripped me off the ledge, gun went somewhere to the bottom. I only had 200 PSI in my tank so I couldn't drop back down to 50'. They threw the tank fill on me while I was still wearing my gear, everyone else out of the water already (my bad guys!) and with 2K PSI I hopped back in the water. Dropped straight down and couldn't see ANYTHING. It was the last dive of the day and it was pretty dark already. I started swimming in a spiral to try and find it. Thankfully, I had the fish with the big white chin on it because I'm confident I couldn't have found it 50 yards off in the distance without that bright white flesh reflecting my spotlight. Everyone was stoked I found the gun and there were no hard feelings for keeping them waiting since it was the last dive. In following dives, I saw even bigger SH, but the cooler I borrowed from Jim was only so big and I didn't want to just shoot big fish. I also saw massive blues and other RF but decided this trip I didn't need fish meat, especially since it doesn't count towards DOTY. I did take one really big calico. Yum!

PEACE BOAT. What a legit boat. Go on one of their trips. Eric Bowman is touted as the best captain in those waters and he sure knows how to put us on the hot spots. We ate like kings. I couldn't believe how hungry I was after every dive. We basically had 6 full meals a day. The hot tub was so awesome - when you live in your wet suit all day, it's great to pour hot water down it to warm up. I'll certainly be joining them again for a yellow tail or white sea bass trip in the future.

BAMBOO REEF (Monterey). A HUGE shout out to Adam at BRM. He hit me up the night before I left for my trip and said, hey, you're going for lobster tomorrow and it will be much easier if you're EANx certified. Come on down tonight. I love the comradery there. They are legitimately the best free dive spearo shop in Monterey, they have level 1 free dive cert instructors, they have a great group on face book for free diving, and it's a pleasure to point people in their direction knowing they will be well taken care of.

OVERALL it was exhausting. Got home at 11p last night, cleaned fish, shucked scallops, situated lobsters until 2a, passed out and got up for work this morning. My hands are on fire but so worth it. Tonight we are excited to have 11 friends coming over for a fillet mignon topped lobster tail with seared scallops, mashed potatoes and green salad. I even gave several coworkers bags of sheepshead fillets to make alfredo, ceviche and one is even going to make Cioppino (and share it with me! score!). There were intense sunsets, enjoyed hearing all the old timers' fish stories while sharing stogies over a flaming BBQ with Tri-tip, amazing sunrises, and a lot of lessons learned. I was super impressed that the 60+ year olds were doing every single dive every day. Savage old salts. I can't wait to get back out there.
- getting the coals ready for tri tip.
- I love scallops.

Once I get a minute to check out my go pro, I'll add more photos to this thread.

I still feel like I'm on a boat  :P

Thanks for reading! I hope you experience some vicarious stoke!

Sounds like a great trip! Also thanks for the great write up. We could always use more of them

Wow! That's a wonderful report!
Just wondering - is it possible to free-dive for lobsters?


--- Quote from: ddesideria on November 07, 2018, 01:28:22 PM ---Wow! That's a wonderful report!
Just wondering - is it possible to free-dive for lobsters?

--- End quote ---

absolutely. The swell was a big gnarly but we had one old timer free diving the second day and he got 5 bugs total.


--- Quote from: Amsmosh on November 07, 2018, 01:13:53 PM ---Sounds like a great trip! Also thanks for the great write white up. We could always use more of them

--- End quote ---


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