Posted by seahunt on February 14, 2001 at 10:08:20:
The trip over was easy, aside from some wind chop. That
disappeared as we got in the shadow of the island. We decided
to go to the High Spot. When I was there at the beginning of
the season, all the kelp was gone. It is a small reef at 65
to 85 feet so it is best to follow the anchor line down to it.
I had my light off as I followed Lem on down, 20 feet in front
of me. His light hit the reef and I could see that the Elephant
Ear kelp was back and the vis was great. It was a brisk 50
The reef was happy again. It looked so barren the last
time I was here. Now, the giant kelp leaves sat just above the
whole reef. Diving here is a choice of swimming over the kelp
and trying to look through or else crawling under the kelp.
Each method is tough, but with some luck, you can find bugs
either way. The small Blacksmiths were almost swarming. The
urchins were active and there was an occasional brightly
colored Spanish Shawl nudibranch. As you move along, sea lions
bomb around you trying to grab the blacksmiths that get blinded
in my light.
There were bugs, but most I saw, were small.
The elephant ear kelp leaves are about 18 inches wide and
sometimes more than 20 feet long. They lay on the rocks and make
a mat that mostly hides the bottom. My favorite way to dive here
is to crawl into the cracks between the rocks that are under the
leaves. It's a strange and difficult dive, but incredibly
exotic. The sea lions will still come in looking for blacksmiths.
It gets crowded.
As you cross over the the reef swimming higher, there is
fishing line everywhere that must be avoided. I was grabbing
occasionally, but most were short. Some nice bigger bugs were
still in their holes. At one point I ran into Lem. He quickly
went left and I went right. I was getting cold by the time I
needed to go up. When you are diving an area like this, you want
to stretch the dive as much as you can, because you never know
when you are going to see another nice bug. Point in case. Lem
told me that he went about 10 feet from where we had met and
there was this nice 4 pounder walking between two rocks. Well,
I did get one nice one.
We ate some and headed towards the shore of the island,
further west. I liked this area and had done well here before.
Lem said don't expect to see him for a while. His big tank was
way over pressure and he expected to be down far longer than
me. I headed right for shore and started snorkeling along.
Sure enough, the bugs were there right on shore. Because of
the tides, the first three feet of rock is pretty bare aside
from barnacles and some small plants. Below that is where the
brown kelps start to grow. All the lobster were above this,
right near the surface. Some were hunkered down in small
cracks, but many were just hanging onto the rocks in the open.
It's a bit rough right against the island, but easy
enough to manage. When I grabbed a bug, I tended to turn my
light off so that it wouldn't float up and blind me. The bugs
go in the bag by feel.
I was getting some and passing a lot of others that
looked small. Finally, I wanted to make sure that I was
judging size accurately so I grabbed one of the ones that
looked close to legal, that I had been ignoring up to now. I
figured I would measure it just to be sure I wasn't
miscalculating and letting go legal bugs. It's a nuisance to
position bug, light and measure at the same time. I was just
getting it all together when my light shone on a nice 2
pounder just a few feet in front of me on the rocks. That
little one was gone and I nailed the big one.
Whenever you see a bug, if it is too small, look
around. there are probably some other bugs nearby and one of
them may well be legal. At one point, I found 4 very small
bugs together. They got all in a dither from my light and
scooted around looking just like big cockroaches. Another
bug, that was obviously a bit small, got all spooked and
started flapping its tail and jetting away. Unfortunately,
it picked a direction up the rock towards the surface, popped
out of the water and then got even more excited and stayed
there flapping away. I was already gone.
I figured that I would snorkel down the island as far
as I could and then return deeper on scuba. This is a lot
of banging around in the light surf. At one point, I climbed
out and took a breather.
Finally, it was time to turn around. The rest of the
dive would mostly be between 10 and 35 feet. It was incredibly
beautiful. Many different kinds of kelp grow at different
levels, with Giant Kelp (Macrocystis) on the rocks near the at
the edge of the reef, near the sand. You shine your light over
the sand to see if any lobster eyes reflect back. There were
lots of fish to see, some awake, some asleep. On this dive, I
saw more large Horned Sharks than I have ever seen. I would
guess that I saw more than 20, all about 4 feet long. They were
just dozing on the bottom. Numerous Seahares were cruising
their slow way across the reef. I also saw a nice sized Green
Abalone, but they are no longer legal to take, even in the
I came to some truck sized rocks and as I approached I
spooked up a fair sized bug. It went skittering backwards into
a hole under the rocks. I wasn't too interested, because
though I could see other bugs in the hole as well, I knew that
they had plenty of places to go that I couldn't. Still, this
one seemed seriously spooked so I kept charging at him with
the light aimed right on him. I went into the hole as far as I
wanted to go and sure enough the bug went right out the back
where it opened up again, some 20 feet past where I was.
The hole might have been big enough for me to fit through to
the other side and then again, it may not have been. What I
was hoping was that if I could spook the bug out the other
side, I might be able to get over the rocks and find him.
Well, the first part had worked, but the rocks were big
enough that it took me a minute to get to the other side of
them and all I found was a short sitting there. I don't know
where the larger one went, but it was a fun try.
I just kept swimming on, looking and occasionally
grabbing. I kept seeing the large Horned Sharks. At about 700
pounds I came up to look for the boat. It was still a ways
further on so I went back down and kept going on, moving down
the reef to the sand and then back up to near the shore.
On the boat, Lem said he had gotten back and was a bit
concerned that I wasn't there. He knew I didn't have the air
that the had, but he saw my light and since it was still moving
he figured I was probably fine. The dive was an hour and
forty minutes long counting the snorkeling. I got some nice
legal bugs. That was a great dive.
We anchored for the night and headed out again. I headed
along the shore again, but found no bugs. I think that the
tide may have been changing and the bugs were walking lower.
I went on down to the reef and looked there. I was seeing
some shorts, but not much looked legal. this area did have
more fish, but there were none of the Horned Sharks that were
so common on the last dive. At the risk of stretching a
shoulder or something else, I was doing some seriously
aggressive grabbing. I got a couple of bugs that thought that
they had gotten away. They may have been moving down in their
holes, but I was moving faster. Still, they were still a bit
There was some moon so I did a bit of traveling with my
light off. I saw Lem in the distance and watched him for a
bit. As he got close he saw my bubbles reflecting his light
and spotted me. I like swimming with my light off. It is
amazing how well you can see.
I continued on to where the reef turns in at the
sheltered mooring area and then headed back to the boat across
the sand and rocky bottom. Then I followed the anchor line up.
I was a bit disappointed. I had only ended up with one legal.
Lem made it up about 10 minutes later. He had followed the same
route back to the boat, but had apparently gone just a bit
further along the bottom. There were two bugs about 4 feet
apart just past the boat. Each was over 2 pounds.
Bed time. It was 3 AM... That was some great diving and
we both had bags of bugs.
Enjoy the diving, seahunt
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