Re: Must you hunt?? (+)

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Posted by Old Man Nelson on December 06, 2000 at 17:59:44:

In Reply to: Must you hunt?? (+) posted by mattschechter on December 04, 2000 at 20:37:37:


The unexperienced life is not worth living.
You get to choose your experiences by taking opportunities and rememeber, fools rush to judgement.

Just so you don't form a negative opinion on hunting prematurly here is just one hunting experience copied from another list server that you might like to read. I could tell you my own stories and I have plenty, but this one is better reading. Makes you want to go out and buy a big spear gun! This is the stuff that I enjoy, I like to hunt. Maybe it does nothing for you. That's OK. You may get your thrills from photography, someone else might get it from diving to 350'. Remember it is your choice, so enjoy the ride. Note that the following story did not occur way back when but 7 years ago. Not a long time ago.

White Seabass Head-Butt
Wed, 6 Dec 2000 16:10:18 -0800
Mark Barville

Hi All,

The fish head-butting stories reminded me of an experience back in
the summer of '94.

It was about 11 AM. I drove out to Palos Verdes, a secret spot of
course, saw no vehicles parked in the street, ran out to the cliff
and no boats, no divers, nothing. The water was flat, clean, and the
sun was shining bright: warm and dry. Well, my excitement was
overwhelming-- this was too good to be true. I suited up, ran down
the cliff at full speed (those were the years!), and stepped in.
Incredible!!! Crystal clear, beautiful, like a stunning day in a
redwood forest. The kelp was standing up right, reflecting all kinds
of colors from translucent to yellow to light green to deep green and
clear blue.

My technique is to start "stealth" hunting the moment I'm submerged.
I drop to a neutral depth, then kick very slowly, almost randomly and
with almost no motion (almost like fining). The rest of my body is
dead still, my head looking forward but not moving. I try to pretend
I'm a swimming white seabass. Within 50 yards I saw the first fish,
all around 40 to 50 pounds. I experimented with my technique and
swam about 15 feet from them, then continued to circle around very
silently. They never budged. Well, I had the entire day, no boats
racing around, no stupid idiot jet skiers racing through the kelp,
and no other spearos. So I decided to milk it, enjoy every second of

I continued toward the outside of the kelp (it was a LONG ways out
that summer) and continued to see couples and trios of wsb in the 50
to 60 pound range. Once on the outside edge I floated like a dead
man on the surface, and, as I expected by now, I would see 60-pound
wsb under the kelp fronds, usually 3 to 5 feet below the surface.
It's funny; it seems the best way to find wsb successfully is to do
nothing. What a paradox! All I did was become a "dead man", no
thoughts, no tension in my body, empty, still. I would move by making
only the very tiniest of motions with the tip of a fin or sculling
motion of the hand in front of my body. Then I'd see a fish, move
above it, and then remain motionless, barely breathing, for long
periods of time.

What was with these fish? None of them spooked! This was heaven.
And, by the way, I am telling the whole truth.

Now, here's the exciting part. The kelp created kind of a peninsula
form, then, on the other side, it angled in sharply toward shore
(there was a sand bottom), creating a kind of "kelp bay". I slowly
swam around this "peninsula", seeing a few individual fish here and
there, and then SUDDENLY I looked out in front and below me, and
there were about ten white seabass, all giants, all about 60 to 70
pounds. My heart was calm, but I had such an incredible sense of joy
inside. What a sight. These fish were mostly faced toward the shore
(ocean depth was about 40 feet, the fish were all about 8 feet below
the surface). I decided to try something totally unusual. It was a
risk, but big deal! This is one of those days in your life when you
feel so tuned in, so peaceful and at one with life. Silent, as
though I didn't even exist (but exhilarated and totally awake!), I
took a deep breath, moved my body in that humpback whale style,
lifting my hips ever so silently, raising my right leg and fin
straight up, and dropped down to their depth (8 feet). I stopped.
Then, 1/2 an inch at a time, slowly moved forward until I was right
next to them.

I'm not kidding!!!

I "drifted" next to one of the wsb, about 65 pounds, then stopped. I
was parallel with the fish, about two feet from it (I was about 10
feet inside the kelp border, they were inside the kelp to my right).
I looked at it in the eye, it looked at me, and they all just
continued to sit still in the water (were they asleep?-- they
certainly seemed wide awake). I continued about 20 feet past the
fish, and while doing so, suddenly caught movement to my left, in the
open water (in the kelp bay).

Okay, you don't have to believe this, but it's true. There were
about, hmmm, maybe 500 white seabass of all sizes, from the bottom to
the surface, and as far out as I could see. Many of the largest fish
were headed right for me. I was out of air, so had to surface

At this point I decided I wanted to enjoy this and not take any
risks, so I stayed on the surface (no dives) and always kept over
kelp fronds in order to hide a bit. Now I could play with my
croaking technique. Grrrrrrnt Grrrrrrnt (a deep low A, low in my
larynx). These fish that were close to me all ranged from 60 to 70
pounds. Some of them would kick their tail and then come to a dead
stop only one or two feet beneath me. My breathing was about as
shallow as I could possibly make it. No motion, no thoughts. My gun
was hidden tight and close to me on my right side.

This lasted about one hour. One of the greatest and shortest and
most exquisite hours of diving I've ever enjoyed.


Well, you knew this story couldn't last forever. The end comes
really fast. I'll just say Skip Hellen inspired me. Basically, I
wanted to break his world record of 80 pounds. Well, there were lots
of 60 to 70 plus pounders all around me, but no 80 pounders. How do
I know? I knew the length of my gun was 60 some inches, so an 80
pounder would have to be longer. As I lay there, I held my gun
beneath me and literally measured each fish as it swam below me. Ha!
The fish were mostly holding at around 5 to 5 1/2 feet long, but I
was also trying to gage their tail height, the girth, and their head
size. Kind of hard, really.

Now, the chills started setting. Bad news. The fish started getting
a little restless, but only a little. A couple of tiny rivets in the
bodies, a teeny tail slap here and there, fish moving in circles and
then coming back to me. Their speed was definitely picking up. No
more dead still fish.

Okay, dinnertime. Probably won't be a record, darn it, but I was
real hungry for some fresh white seabass, marinated in tons of garlic
and virgin olive oil and fresh lemons and sea salt, and grilled
lightly over white coals until the white meat falls apart, juices
squirting all over at the slightest touch.

So, slowly, my gun tip lowers. Very slowly, unnoticeable. A
particularly large fish, not an 80 pounder, though, gets curious and
swims right up to the tip (sardine?) then stops and starts to meander
away. Well, talk about "I think this is the fish that's meant to
be"-- this fish was now positioned with its brain about 6 inches from
my tip. Whooooops! Instinct! My trigger was off before I even
had a thought. BA BOOOOM, the fish exploded away! Damn! I thought
it'd be stoned for sure. Whack, the fish turns sharply to the right.
Whoooaaa!, the 5/16 shaft is now bent entirely in half!

ZZZZZZZZSSSSSSSSSSSSlllllllll, out goes the line from my reel at the
speed of light, only right at the surface. Everybody else is just
watching the action. The wsb now does something I had never seen--
it leaped out of the water like a marlin! No kidding. Shaft bent in
half, sunlight washing everything in white light and blue glimmer,
with the gold of the wsb gleaming. Beautiful. Gawd, really

Then, in an eye blink, the fish turns around. Now, this fish has
stayed on the surface the entire time, it did not go under at all.
JEEEEEEEEEshhhhhhhh, here he comes like a bull. BAMMM!!!!! He
head-butts me right in my chest! Wow. Actually, I was scared to
death. This fish wanted to kill me. Well, I can understand why, but
I just never saw anything like this before. I'll tell you, talk
about projecting human intention and stuff onto an animal. Whew,
that fish had blood for me in its eye. He was enraged. I was
terrified, mostly of the shooting line, but also by the fact that
this fish appeared to want to kill me. I pushed the fish away from
me with my gun, and then kicked back and away as fast as possible.

The end was swift. He tired out fast. I pulled the line in, careful
to stay far from where it was floating, grabbed the shaft, then
thrust my left hand under its gill plate, grabbing the throat, then
ripping out the gill rakers in one massive pull.

Resting on my back, fish subdued, I felt so happy. The sunlight
warming my face (lifted my mask onto my forehead for a moment), the
water as still as a swimming pool, the bluffs green and yellow with
mustard flowers, I saw that I had an audience of bummed surfers on
the cliff. Slowly coming in, it was a joy to bring the fish up. Get
this-- the surfers ran down the cliff to greet me and then they all
offered to carry my fish and my gear! Whoa! Fine with me. They
were all stoked. They had seen the entire battle and couldn't
believe what they had just witnessed.

With the blood and gill rakers out of the fish, it weighed about 66
pounds (call Dick Jappe if in doubt, he weighed it). I gutted it
immediately and when I cleaned it, the meat was almost as transparent
as glass, shimmering kind of silver translucent.

We grilled it and served my entire 50 member Chorale that night (once
the phone tree got started)-- Hawaiian style, of course! :)

That was my fish head-butt story.

Thank you,


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