Blue Water

12 Jul

From an older journal, probably around May about a year ago.

The no fish report

If you are looking of hearing an epic battle between a white seabass or a big fish, don’t bother. I didn’t get jack shit.

However if you are bored and want to kill some time, then read on brother.

When I stood on the edge of the cliff I couldn’t belive it. I shielded my eyes from the suns glare and saw blue water breaking in the waves and could clearly make out reef formations below the water. Holy shit the vis must be epic.

With just an hour or so of dive time I threw on my wetsuit and started the mad scramble down the side of the cliff to a secret spot that in reality is probably not so secret.  As I climbed down the cliff I ran into a family who asked me in broken English what I was going for. I simply smiled and shrugged, maybe yellowtail, maybe white seabass or some reef fish. I was just out to enjoy the day. With air temperatures hitting about eighty degrees and a strong santa ana wind blowing the last two days it was just going to be a relief getting into the water after a hard day at work.

I cautiously watched the waves and tried to figure out the rough timing. As I perched cautiously on top of the rocks I jammed on my fins and when the wave pushed the water forward I started kicking and hoped to hell I timed it right.

As I began to kick across the shallows I was greeted by a school of some small zebra perch. I watched their barred bodies slip thru the rocks as they dashed away. By the time I came to the outer kelp bed I knew I would probably not see any white seabass. The water had probably fifty feet of visibility, any fish would surely see me and scatter. Not that it mattered, what used to be a thick kelp bed was now reduced to a few scraggly stringers. Last year I had taken about six white seabass from shore dives from this same spot, the kelp was so thick it took me a long time to work my way through it. But it was almost all gone now, the storms we had during the winter had pretty much wiped out all the kelp on my little reef.

Still I quietly flooded my snorkel so there would be no bubbles and tucked my way and dove into the cool clear water. I followed the meager kelp stalks in hope there would be some blind, deaf, fat white seabass hiding below. But even though I found no giants I was greeted by an amazing sight. In the kelp the water was a bit hazy, tiny young of the year seniorita wrasses rose up from the kelp stocks to greet me. Curious half moon perch poked their heads out of the kelp and followed me around. I saw some gigantic Balta sized opaleye that must’ve been eight pounds look at me and then with a mad dash of their fins take off. The dumbest sand bass I’ve ever seen came up to me with wondering eyes, close enough that I could’ve taken them with a three prong. Big kelp bass skeptically watched me with green eyes before fleeing from the canopy into the reef. It was absolutely amazing, like someone had flipped a switch and suddenly winter was over.

When I glanced at my watch it was showing 62 degrees. I actually had to flood my suit several times since I was so warm. Wow, what a change from the 57 degree water that I had been freezing my ass off in a few days ago! I pushed to the outside of the kelp in hopes of seeing some yellowtail. There schools of barracuda, probably 50-75 individuals sunk away, I could make out clearly their yellowish tails as they flicked them in the blue water. Spanish mackeral randomly skitted thru the reef and around the kelp. I made several drops amoungst the bait and waited it out. But nothing came today. The water was so clear I saw several pinnicles I had never seen before, dropping down to them brought the mad thumping of male garabaldi as they tried to show the intruder who was the boss on this reef. Scallops quickly closed their shells to hide their orange flesh. And on the bottom I could even make out some curious lobster, now brave that the season was over.

I swam around my aquarium for that last full hour before the sun began to dip into the ocean. I made some half hearted drops into the sand patches looking for halibut, hoping that part of the floor would move enough that I could hand jab them with my slip tip. I saw huge sargo doing some kind of circular dance, maybe mating, maybe just playing. Had I brought my rabitech reef gun instead of my slip tip I would’ve brought home a few fish to fry. But today I just wanted to enjoy the moment. When I’m hunting white seabass a lot of times it’s cold, murky and miserable. But on days like this I’m just happy to be alive, it brings everything back to me, the real reason why I love freediving.

That hour shot by like it was a couple of minutes. I came back to the shore empty handed but happier than I’ve been in a long time. I watched the waves and prayed that I timed it right, someone out there must have been looking out for me because I simply walked out, as I turned around I saw a rare four foot wave pound the reef and was glad I went out when I did.

I gathered up my gear and made the long climb back up the steep, rocky hill. I had to stop several more times than I used to have to. I’m 42 now and it’s starting to show. I wondered how much longer I’d be able to climb down those steep cliffs and silently was glad I wasn’t lugging some huge seabass up that steep hill.

By the time I got to the top of the cliff I saw some older folks taking a stroll and said hello. It must’ve been strange to see that weird guy in the wetsuit carrying a speargun up a cliff. The last thing I did was turn around and for five minutes watch one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in a long time. I checked my watch and it was getting late. I still had to drive home and start packing for a vacation with my parents, my father turned 80 years old this week! I thought about that and if I’d be diving when I was that old and hoped that I was in as good shape as Bill I would be able to dive into my seventies at least.

You know the best part of all of today was? It was free, it was something people would have paid a lot of money to do on vacation. Take advantage of it guys, the water is clear and right now fairly warm. There are reef fish all over the place, the halibut are probably hiding in the sand patches and I’d bet yellowtail are going to start to show. If I wasn’t going on vacation I’d call my boss and beg for a few days off, you don’t get conditions like that that often…

The video below is the closest thing I have onhand that matched the conditions of that day.  This one was shot in november sometime in a spot that will be closed because it will become a marine protected area (MPA) in October.   That really sucks because it’s one of my favorite places to hunt locally 😦

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