In search of elusive giant black sea bass., the first place to look for a dive instructor

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Posted by Maciek on November 19, 2001 at 10:25:50:

After having rigs trip diverted and my Redondo squid search not really succesful, I joined Reef Seekers on Cee Ray in hope to break my bad luck and finally see something I planned for. Intention behind the trip was to see giant black seabass swarm living near Italina Gardens/Catalina.

Ocean was quite calm on sunday, I even managed to catch some badly needed sleep on our way out. First spot of the day: Italian Gardens. Slight current was blowing east, so our triplet (ChrisM, jond and myself) decided to be a good boys and head out against it. it gets deep there really fast, as island walls drop off sharply into and under the water. We landed at 70 feet and cruised west looking around. Visibility around 40. No trace of seabass. Kelp was there, garibaldis were there, lobsters were there. In crevices we spotted one regular size and one really really fat mooray eel. It was about as thick as my calf. We worked our way back through the shallows and surfaced a little disappointed. Guess what. We got whole boat bragging about seabasses that hang EAST from the boat. Ehhh.

Meanwhile we got a little baywatch interlude, when one of senior divers didn't quite remember the dive he just had and in "better safe than sorry" mode was moved to the baywatch boat and transported to the hospital. It luckily turned out to be a false alarm and he was relased after checkup and was waiting for us at San Pedro in the evening to pick his gear.

We stayed for a second dive there and that was now a sure hit. We splashed, went to 70 feet and cruised east. Water started to be a little murky. With our heads spinning we porceeded and finally were rewarded. Seebass on out left. Far. My length. Slowly going paralel to us. We headed his way a little and there is four more. They blend so well, one sees them before realising it's a fish not a shadow. Slowly not to scare them we moved closer. More seabasses. More. Quick count gave me seven on my left and four ahead of me. Most average size (my size), one or two bigger and one small. Couple of hundred pounds per fish. One gave me a chance to swim right over it. Amazing creatures. Some shyed away, some stayed to pose for pictures and video. That was a first sighting of a giant see bass I had in my life. I'm still mesmerized.

Regretfully we had to go up. We crossed thermocline at 45 and stayed shallow burning air and looking at swarms of blacksmiths crowded into crevices. I got another sheepshead munching on my mask strap for unknow reason. That becomes a custom.

Happy and content boat moved over to Fraggle Rock. That's not deeper than 35, flat sandy bottom with big boulders scattered around. Relaxing dive with couple of horned sharks, interesting crevices inhabited by mooray eels, lobsters and cleaner shrimps. Most memorable picture in my head is a crack in a boulder with seafans growing inside - gives it a old Alhambra window look :). My red inflator button was mercilessly attacked by bigass garibaldi. And some people claim sharks are a threat..

For dive numer four we moved to Yellowtail Point. I happpily skipped this one. Hot burgers were a tempting alternative. We returned to San Perdo around 6:30.

If you have a chance to dive Italian Gardens go for it. It's one of the best dives I had in my life.


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