CopyRight @ 1997
So here I was again with Dale in his Bayliner. This is really a speed boat, not a dive boat. As usual, we had gotten an extremely late start out of Alviso Harbor. This is really bad when heading north on the central coast. It's not as bad as it could be though, because being south of Point Buchon, we were not going to be hit too much by the weather from the north. The weather from the west seemed like plenty enough, thank you. I had never dove up here before, though I had done some fishing with Dale and knew something of what to expect from my somewhat ...flighty... friend. It was the first of many dives I made in the area. It is remote, cold and rough. Empty, just the way I like it. Actually though, the area had been heavily dove when there were healthy abalone populations. That was a while ago and certainly before those fury little appetites, called sea otters, showed up. My mistake was only bringing one tank, because of the late departure.
We banged on up from Alviso. It's about 8 miles from the
harbor to the Point Buchon. That is where the coast turns north
up to Montagne De Oro and Morro Bay. It is extremely beautiful
and pretty much inaccessible, except by boat. The whole area is
kelp beds and rocky reefs.
About 7 miles up, we passed the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant. We stopped just a bit south of the point, a ways inside the red buoy out there. I did not really know the depth but was looking for a moderately shallow dive. I had an aluminum 80 and my pole spear. I went on down and right there, sitting on the first rock I saw, was a huge Lingcod. I hit it hard in the head with the three prong paralyzer tip. It sat there for a few seconds and I moved up on it. It was a good hard shot, but I was not real practiced at taking Lings and did not know that a spear may not slow them down much. This was more than a 25 pound fish. It is still the biggest Ling that I have ever seen. Well, it suddenly gave a hard wiggle and it was gone. It was so long that it made a double 's' curve as it swam away. Damn! Well, I hope that it lived. It may well have. I did not rip it up any. Anyway, this looked like the start of an interesting dive. I was busy. I don't remember it all. It was an area of big rocks with sand channels running in between them. Many of the rocks stuck up sharply as much as 20 feet. There were large laminarias growing in 'fields' on flat rock areas. It got surgey near the big rocks, but there were always plenty of smaller laminaries to hold onto. The whole area was incredibly lush. I went on and there was another nice Ling. I shot it and pinned it to the bottom real well. I had no intention of losing another. That one was in the bag. I just went on seeing fish and shoving them in my bag. I had never seen anything quite like this when hunting. I found a big Red Snapper and plugged it. Then a big Olive Bass. Then another Ling. I had been looking in holes, hoping to see an ab and sure enough, there was a fatty up in a hole where only my light showed it. I found more in a deep crack that was so flat that I had to pop up the one I had selected and then keep moving and maneuvering it with my iron so that it could not attach again. I finally flipped it out. The crack was too small to get much of my arm in. In this area, otter land, this is where most abs that there are, make their living. It turned out that in many later dives, I never saw another legal ab in this area. I just kept shooting fish and putting them in my bag. A Sheephead went by, so I pursued it, figuring that Dale would like to see it. Later, I found out that Sheephead are quite unusual there, because the otters have left almost no urchins for them to eat. Urchins are extremely uncommon in that area.
What a dive!
I came up with a big bag. I had 3 lings about 14 pounds a
piece, 3 nice Red Snappers about 7 pounds a piece, 2 abs,
1 Sheephead, 1 nice Olive Bass about 6 pounds, various other big
bass and a number of other finny victims as well. I have never
seen anything like it before or since. Dale likes his fishing and
so was a bit flabbergasted. You do not see a bag like that on a
fishing boat. This was the first time I had ever dove the area.
Cleaning the fish, I got a lesson about how aggressive the Sea
Gulls up there can be. They in turn got a lesson that if I move
my ice chest about 2 feet from the fish and they still get close
enough to grab at a fillet, they are also quite close enough to
be sort of trapped against the ice chest and vulnerable to whatever
indignities I choose to inflict on them.
We had some great sautéed Lingcod that night... and for the next while. We also ate the abs as well. I had enough fish that when I went home, instead of freezing it all, I smoked most of it. And Ya know, the big one got away. Next time, even if it is late, I will bring both tanks.
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