Conditions today plus the story of what was in Pat's Bag

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Posted by Dr. Andy Saxon on January 02, 2009 at 20:02:20:

Surface – flat when pulled out at 8 am and then by noon it was glassy.
Mild fog at 8 am but it never got right down on the water. It never was an “issue” and we even had the sun out around 11 am.

Vis today was very good, better than earlier in the week and I’d say 25’ on the N. rock piles.
Temp 53 and cool, no thermocline.
Lots of bugs around so Pat and I finished lobster diving early, took a few fish for dinner and then went exploring. Found one spot that that is not charted and of course it was loaded with bugs but since we already had our limit, it was just look around and then came home early. Nice way to start the year.

OK “The story” of Pat and the creature in the bag.

On Dec 28th, we are diving in mid-SM Bay and Pat comes up to the stern and says “Don’t put your hand in the bag to get the lobsters out”….. “fill an ice chest with water and dump the contents of the bag in”. I do that and what drops into the water, nothing less than a wolf eel along with a couple of lobster. That is right, a freakin’ WOLF EEL!!! Pat, the crazy bugger had “noodled” the damn thing into his game bag so he could bring it back to the boat. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that before. Of course, this is the same Pat who had hand collected a Fine Scale Triggerfish a couple of years ago - a fish that would only be too happy to take off a finger. Yes, I know it wasn’t true “noodling” for as you fish catching aficionados know, noodling actually has you put your hand in the mouth of the big catfish so you can catch them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noodling Even Pat isn’t that silly, I hope.

It turns out that a week before, when Pat had come back to the boat, he had reported seeing a wolf eel in the rocks in mid – SM Bay. That is most unusual. We’d certainly seen them before in the “Harbor” (horseshoe) area and also out at Santa Cruz (one lives on the wreck of the Spirit of America) but not in SM Bay. Well we went back to that area because the lobster catching was good and Pat apparently decides to go after the Wolf Eel. He says the idea just popped into his head – I claim due to a large amount of empty space in there at the time. Anyway, he goes looking for the eel and sure enough, it is just about in the same spot as before. So now that he has located the eel, he then had to figure out how to get it out and into his game bag. His first plan was to entice it after his wiggling fingers in front of the game bag and then slip the bag over it. However, after looking at the wolf eel's mouth a little more carefully, he decides that was not such a good plan. His next idea was to get a sea urchin and put it in the mouth of the game bag and see if the wolf eel would go after that. That didn’t work, the eel wasn’t’ interested in “uni”. So then he figures, how about lobster appetizer for the eel. He takes one of the bugs from his bag and carefully offers that to the eel. This move clearly got the animals attention. Next thing Pat knows the “chase” is on. The Wolf eel is out and going right at the lobster and Pat’s hand that is holding it. So Pat starts furiously spinning to try to keep the eel from chomping down on the lobster (and his hand) while opening his game bag with the other hand. Fortunately, we use Trident squeeze open bags so Pat ultimately manages to get the bag open and shoves the bug in and the wolf eel goes in right after it. Voila! Eel in a bag. Well, we took a couple of pictures of the beast and then gently returned it to yhe ocean. Who would have believed it? Sort of reminds me of the warnings on the TV shows – Don’t Try This At Home or as Pat would say “Another step toward total enlightenment”.

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