Hell Freezes Over

9 May
To say it was the end of a long dry streak would be the understatement of the year. I can’t remember putting in time and not connecting since I started chasing the gray ghost.  Grant it, having my boy has put a damper on my dive time, but my wife has been cool enough to let me sneak away for half days from time to time and after probably 10 plus shore dive and boat dives I had only two sightings, it was getting pretty pathetic.  Hunting white seabass is a  battle between love and hate.  You love it when you connect and you hate it when you don’t.  Nothing compares to hours wasted swimming as slow as you can in murky freezing water.  But we hold out for those rare days when we connect…
I’ve been prepping for a “business” trip to the Georgia Aquarium where I’m presenting a highly secret collection technique that I won’t bore you with.  Sunday I made plans to head out on one of my buddies boats, a mere 24 hours until I had to catch my flight. The first spot had great visibility, probably too good at about 30 feet. There was current, bait but no fish. Seemed like a pattern of damnation was following me once again and I sadly climbed back into the boat and wept in a pool of urine.We only had less than a half day to dive so we hit a second spot. Vis looked marginal on the surface and I headed one direction while my buddy head in yet another.The sparse kelp was fairly barren, I saw some kelp perch and that was about it. Discouraging. I kicked over to some thicker stuff and started making drops, it looked absolutely epic and I saw small schools of bait racing through the channels of kelp. The water felt slightly warmer here and vis was about 15′. I started seeing kelp bass zooming away and a few cuda slowly cruised through, it looked absolutely epic and I figured if any spot had fish this would be it. I started making a few drops and was slowly moving through when I saw that golden flash and a nice fish turned slightly and began slinking away. Unfortunately I only had a shot from the back so I kept following it and finally it slightly turned and I clicked the trigger. The shaft left and I was waiting to see if I had connected or if my shooting line would do that discouraging fall.

My luck held and my floatline begain to zip through my hands, so fast in fact that I was slightly alarmed.  I marked my Neptonics floatline with black electrical tape at the end about 15′ from the end every foot or so and increasing at 6″ towards the end, when I saw the first mark I started putting pressure on it but it was still hauling ass so I dropped it and swam down the line to catch up with the main part of the white floatline. The fish started headed towards the shallows and I felt lucky but after a minute or so did a u turn and headed towards the deeper kelp. I had to drop and catch up with that line several times because I wasn’t sure of the shot, eventually I put a little more pressure and the fish tied up. Unfortunately my buddy was far off so I inflated and clipped off my float and gun and started to breathe up.

I breathed up and dropped down and followed the line until I located it and as usual that fish tied up in the deepest part of the kelp it could find at 60′.  When I could compose myself I dropped and dispatched my fish, grabbed it and then began swimming back up. When I hit about 20 feet the fish would not move and I could feel myself rapidly running out of breath. Without hesitation I dropped the fish and kicked up to the surface.  It proved to be a smart move.   I was already light headed and did a couple of hook breaths and felt better.  Once composed I thought about it and did a couple of other drops, the floatline and shooting line was way tangled around a big bunch of kelp so I decided to just cut the shooting line (I’m using a pigtail swivel on this rig and its too hard to untie), grabbed the fish and made the kick to the surface.

Upon examination I saw the shot was fairly poor, there was no better advertising for a slip tip. I had shot it towards the rear of the fish and the slip tip didn’t even penetrate the body cavity, it toggled inside but luckily was in the area of the anal fin. If it were not for the bungee that Josh from Neptonics put on the front of the line that I requested I probably would have lost this fish.  At any rate I made the long swim back to the boat and threw the slug on the boat and promptly gave my jeering buddies a call to razz them.  My buddy had similar luck and swam back to his boat with a nice fish in tow.  We high fived it and headed back to the docks.

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While it was not the biggest fish I’ve ever shot it was probably one of the most satisfying.  I cleaned the beast on my filet table and quickly iced down the filets in zip lock bags.  I throw salt in freshwater and then rinse the filets in those so you don’t get that osmotic flux that makes the meat watery.  Then I burp the bags under the water to get the air out of it, it’s the poorman’s vacuum sealer.  The fish promptly go in the freezer, I gave some away to friends and family and then cooked some for ourselves.
I tried a new recipe with some Misoyaki marinade that master speargun/sliptip/stainless shaft Mori gave me and man was it fantastic.  It’s my wife’s new favorite recipe!Image
Cranberry/walnut salad, White seabass sashimi, and Misoyaki White Seabass with a side of baked brussel sprouts and sweet potatos
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