Posted by on April 24, 2005 at 07:27:43:
GULF OF MEXICO
To the left was a cobia.
To the right, was a nice-size red snapper. Behind a leg of the oil rig was an amberjack while a barracuda cruised the water looking for anything to eat.
Ah, spearfishing the opening day of the recreational red snapper season.
A beautiful sight.
Tommy Carter of Ocean Springs had a crew of divers from New Orleans for opening day with one agenda: really big red snapper.
Since the recreational season closed Oct. 31, recreational anglers have waited patiently for opening day.
With that in mind, boats all along the northern Gulf of Mexico headed to their favorite holes in hopes of enticing big sow snapper (preferably the ones in the 20-plus range) to bite.
And of course to feast on, too.
From all indications and reports, the season opened with a bang.
This trip, however, featured a diver named Stan Smith of Metairie, La. Smith is a member of the legendary Hell Divers group, which has produced several world spearfishing records.
These guys are good, real good.
How about a 491-pound shark Smith shot in 180 feet of water off an oil rig in the Main Pass area, which is near the mouth of the Mississippi River?
Here's what happened:
The New Orleans insurance agent was told by a charter boat that a big shark was in the area. In a few minutes, Smith hit the water fully equipped with air tank, mask and fins.
And of course, one serious and potent spear gun.
As Smith swam from one side of the rig to another, there it was - staring back.
With his heart pumping, Smith was face to face with a creature that causes more stir than All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owen complaining about being underpaid with the Philadelphia Eagles.
I guess being paid $5 million a year to catch a football isn't enough.
The shark, after a brief stare down, started swimming off.
At this point, Smith fired and caught the beast right behind the gills.
It was a shot that didn't sit well with the shark.
"I should've hit him on top of the head," Smith said. "It was a bad placement shot because the shot took off. It forced my mask to go from the front of my face to the back of my head."
Smith was in the shark's back yard, normally a bad omen. For the most part, all he saw were razor-sharp teeth, a huge, intimating body and one extremely mad animal.
Once again, both man and beast are in the water.
Have you ever boated a 50-pound shark and seen the uproar it causes?
I think you get the picture.
After all the excitement, Smith was running short on oxygen. He was forced to tie the shark off onto a section of the oil rig and headed for the surface. Smith was able to grab a reserve tank and went to retrieve with hopes of being a world record holder.
The shark needed another shot, but the feat had been accomplished.
It was loaded onto the boat by a crane working the oil rig.
What a story.
Keep in mind that the bag limit for red snapper is four per person with a minimum length of 16 inches.
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