Do it in the Darkness - 3

Scuba Diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by seahunt on October 22, 2001 at 14:29:48:

The third dive was a debate. Go deep off Bird Rock where the lobsters
should be and bottom time would be short or go shallow? Well, the bugs
didn't seem to be deep, so why not try shallow?
We moored the boat for the night and geared up. I have gotten bugs in
the sand under the boat on occasion and when I didn't look carefully
enough, Lem usually found them there. This time, I had the trick. I
had some abalone trimmings from the weekend's feast and dropped them
off the boat, declaring that I would check on it on the way back.
Sometimes, you've got to make your own luck.
Where we were diving was a favorite place of mine because there is
a lot of very good, very shallow diving. That means the area from 15
feet deep right to the shore. I tend to do real well there, but usually
only later in the season when the lobsters have come up shallow.
Sometimes you can chase a lobster right out of the water.
I started out looking at the rocks actually inside the cove. It's
rarely productive, but you must not over look territory. Vis wasn't
much in the shallow water, but I was immediatly reminded of how
beautiful Catalina is in the shallows. There is a lot of fish and
invertebrate life. The two commonest seaweeds are this stuff that
looks almost like brown lettuce and some other stuff that looks
like brown carrot greens. The bugs tend to be walking in that stuff.
There is a lot of other plant growth as well including some eel
I went a bit farther out than I usually do and found a whole new
area of reef that I had never seen. As I went along, it just seemed
to continue on deeper and deeper. Well, what could I do? I continued
deeper to explore and figured that the lobster were probably out
there sort of deep anyway. At about 60 feet, I got past most of the
macrocystis and was getting into Elephant Ear kelp, though not nearly
as thick as what was at the High Spot. Sure enough there were some
bugs out walking and I grabbed 2 that looked legal. There was one on
some kelp that looked small, but I grabbed him for practice. I figured
I had to run out of reef soon, so I just kept going on down, working
back and forth maybe 20 feet, looking for game. Usually a reef like
this ends with occasional kelp covered rocks turning to sand. Lobster
may be walking along the edge of the reef or you may see their eyes
reflect if you shine your light over the sand. In this case, the reef
just kept on going down. Basically, I was amazed, but at 86 feet I
decided that it was deep enough for this dive and time to work my up
again. I moved over some and headed back, still sweeping back and
forth as I went. There was a small lobster trap. They are completely
illegal here, but this one was very obviously derelict and home to a
lot of growth, so I saw no reason to distrub it. I grabbed another bug
and saw a pink abalone that was about 5 inches. There was a lot of
bottom life and lots of fish to see on the way, including some big
Calico Bass, garabaldi and tiny bright red rock fish. Soon, I was back
in the depths of macrocystis and that lettuce like kelp. Somewhere, I
even passed the proverbial 2 pound bug in an out of reach crack.
In the shallow water I figured the air I had left would allow me
to look around for a while. I went right to shore and then looked in
the eel grass on top of the rocks further out. I ignored the surge
from small waves and followed cracks as far as I could back to shore.
I saw a lot of neat stuff and worked hard, but just didn't see any
bugs more than a couple of shorts. Finally after searching through a
large shallow area, about all that was left to do was go back to the
boat. I lined up on it and headed out. Sure enough, when I got there
I could see the biggest chunk of abalone trimming and about eight
1-1/2 to 2 pounders around it. Unfortunately, they were horned sharks,
not lobsters.
What a night of diving! It was fun and beautiful, but not very
productive of lobsters. I won't even admit how many legals I ended
up with. Well, nobody had done well. No matter how I looked at it,
it was still great diving. Catalina is just beautiful.
I changed and waited on the Lem and Naoki. I figured they probably
got something, but nothing great. I got into watching the sea and
stars, while listing to the sounds of the cove at night. It was calm
with the same soft wind that had blown all evening, but now it had
more than a slight chill to it. The constellations of the Milky Way
were bright in the black sky directly over Isthmus.
Naoki came on with a bag of bugs. A while later, Lem came on with a
bigger bag. They had gone shallow and hammered them. They had done much
of their dive where I had finished up mine. The bugs were shallow. Go
Enjoy the diving, seahunt

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