2nd Freedivelist East Coast Meet, Oct. 97 - Report
The spearos present were:
Beaver Tail, R.I., Saturday October 11th, 97 at 9h30 a.m.
Now, the report:
René and I attached the kayak on the top of my Ford econo line, and drove down from Montreal to Fall River, in Mass. Like usual, we stopped over in Lebanon for a coffee break... Something weird I find there; it's okay that no one speaks Lebanese :-)... but why can't we find a Lebanese restaurant in Lebanon, NH??! Maybe I should think about it? *wink*
We always stay at the 4D motel in Fall River, as it costs only 45$ a day, weekends included, for two people. The workers there are very friendly; they make us coffee in the morning, and give us all the ice we want! Sometimes we can even check out as late as 7 pm at no extra cost. It's definitely worth the 50 mn detour to RI from there. (No accommodation in RI under 80 $ on weekends).
Saturday morning we were at Beaver Tail, waiting for the guys. A middle aged couple came to us and engaged in a conversation about kayaking and spearfishing. They were from Sou Cal on a tourist trip to the East coast. They started telling us about Catalina, Baja, Yellow tails, white sea bass, etc... boy was it fun! Meanwhile, on the east parking side, Mr. Jose Fernandez had already started filleting tautogs!... By 10:00 am, all the guys were there, except for ... you guessed it; managers are always late :-) ... Ata Bilgili and Tom Campbell showed up just as I was preparing to enter the water with Bruce Connor, at 10h40...
The water temp was 61 F... But viz. was great... between 15 and 20 ft.
Since we were many divers in a relatively small spot, only 2 striped bass were sighted: Tom Campbell saw a 24" with a yellow tag, and René saw a "very big" one (remember: René is the "trophy" hunter who doesn't waste time on any smaller fish. When he says big; it's very big).
I shot 3 togzillas (a name Jose Fernandez gives to tautogs over 6 lb). Ata and Tom got their limits. René shot one tog before leaving the water (neat way to unload the gun). I don't know about all the other guys though.
We then decided to dive in Narragansett at 3h30 pm. So we headed there, and parked at the 530 (civic address reference of the jetty). No one had arrived yet, so we ate a few chocolate bars, and hit the water. First time I could actually see the bottom at 20 ft! Viz was unbelievable there! around 25 to 30 ft... It was a blessing... I took lots of pleasure of "seeing" at last, how the place we've been diving all summer looks like!
As usual, René was going exclusively after his favorite "striPPers". I completed my limit, with 2 more togzillas... real big ones... The only time I saw a school of stripers, was when I was at the end of a long dive... :-(. Five minutes later, they passed underneath Ata, who landed a legal one.
When I finally swam back to shore, all the guys had been out already, except for René. As he showed up 15 minutes later, he had... yes... TWO stripers... his limit!. The biggest was 23 1/2 lb...
That evening, most of the guys had to leave earlier for family engagements. Five of us stayed and had supper together at the Crazy Burger restaurant, next to Narragansett Pier Dive Shop. Dave Drew and a friend, Ata, Tom Campbell, René and I. We talked spearfishing, diving and fish, and looked at fish books Ata had brought to show me. My eyes got all wet as I watched all my beloved fish species of the Mediterranean that I had left behind this year... hope they live till next season, so that we meet again...
Sunday morning, we drove back to the 530 jetty. The water was a bit colder, and I had to wear my 7 mm farmer john underneath my 2.5 mm Picasso jacket in order to keep warm. My Casio watch showed 60 F. But viz. was even better than the day before... I saw my first TRIGGER FISH! As I went down towards it, I saw another one, and another one... For the first time, I was not dragging my floater with the stringer, because I knew the 7 mm bottom of my suit would give me a hard time swimming, in addition to the classical back of the knees infection due to the friction. Boy did I miss the floater, as I tried to "brain" the trigger fish, before stringing it to my waist!... I shot 4 of them, total. Also, 4 more "togzillas"... My catch was so heavy, that the kevlar line of my stringer snapped, just as I ended the dive... Just figure out the fun I had collecting the fish :-(
René got a 32" striped bass.
4 more chocolate bars, and we were ready for the last dive before sunset. It was 4h15 pm, and we decided to go to the Narragansett pier. That was my first time there. God willing, it won't be the last, this I can tell you... Here's why:
Just before we got into the water, I reminded René that it would be pitiful not to get our limit of tautogs, since he had only shot one the day before, and none on that day! Driving more than 20 hours in two days and getting back to Montreal with less than half our bag limit, would be really frustrating! So he said he would go after the tautogs, towards Hazard Road.
I still needed one tog for my limit, so I didn't worry much about it, and I decided to hunt striped bass for a change. Bottom viz was poor, but vertical viz from the surface was excellent... about 20 ft...
Just as I swam further to deeper water, I saw a black "torpedo" shade sneak to my right, in the blue... I immediately thought: albacore tuna or bonito... 2 minutes later, I saw two more. Side by side... very fast moving, and very spooky. The hell with striped bass, I thought to myself! What the heck is that! It did not belong to any tuna family I've seen or heard of... From far, it looked like king mackerel or something... I really couldn't tell... But that was my first sighting of that fish specie! One thing I guessed though: It swam and behaved like a "brown meat" pelagic... If my guess is right, then I think I'm in their path...
I hung on the surface, motionless, occasionally kicking towards deeper water... "Thank God I had my newly home-made stringer, with a weed eater line! ", I thought to myself... "I feel the next hour is gonna be FUN!"...
As I looked in the turquoise water, I thought of all the blue water hunting I read about... I even imagined a large shark going up for me, and suddenly I felt cold.
Out of my imagination, 5 fast moving dark shades suddenly appeared out of nowhere... they were ten feet below me. I aimed one foot ahead of the largest one, the 3rd or the 4th... The tahitian 6 mm shaft of my 90 cm Black Viper stuck out half way of its right side. Just as I was realizing I actually hit it, the fish took off downwards, then as I heard the "plastic" clicking sound of my small reel, and felt the pull ... All I could see was my green and black silk line, curved downwards, ahead of me. I grabbed it, and held the reel with my other hand, took a deep breath, and let myself to the weird sensation of a stronger force than mine, actually PULLING me down!
As I felt it getting weaker and weaker, I started pulling it up. Still no fish in sight. As I was getting entangled in my line, I saw the blue fish... My shaft was still miraculously hanging on to its side. When it saw me swimming down towards it, it took off again! Wow! What a feeling!... it took me a while before I could finally grab it... As my knife was almost on its way in its skull, my left hand loosened its grip underneath its gill plates, and I barely had the reflex to hold on to the knife, before it escaped. Damn.
I was in the path of a school of blue fish, indeed. During the next hour, I kept shooting on the fast moving and shy fish... I missed three times, and hit 4 more times.
Had the time of my life though. Sometimes, the pull was so strong, it felt as if I had hit and hooked a 10 HP boat engine on the loose! My Sporasub BV did a terrific job. I worked my line very well, sometimes as in rod and reel fishing, and managed not to have my only shaft too badly twisted.
It was after the sunset that I swam back to the pier. I could sea René cleaning his limit of tautogs. Many cars were parked there. Fred, the Lawn Care man was there too, wearing his green Esclapez wet suit. Fifty yards before I reached the beach, I yelled to René to go get my camera in the van. He stood up and shouted:
"Just go get it, please!"
He got more suspicious
"I can't lift them... too heavy"
"C'mon! Stop bragging and lift the damn stringer up!"
I was on shore, and it was real shoulder up-rowing exercise lifting the stringer with the 3 beautiful "beasts" hanging (don't ask about the fourth one)... René's eyes opened wide, as Fred yelled out ; "Blue fish! These are real hard to shoot! They're so big!"
René jumped to the van, and as I stood there, posing in advance for the camera, I saw him running down, mask and snorkel on his head, fins and gun in his hands, and jumping in the water!
"What do you think you're doing??! Where's the camera?"
"I'm going back there. I'm gonna get SIX of them, you'll see"
"What about my pictures??? who's gonna take my pictures??"
"I got the whole school... nothing's left for you, you'll see"
I mean, do you honestly think I would have left the shooting gallery if there would have been more??? Ha!
Fred tried his best to focus and shoot one picture. (It was dark then, and I could only get the lens to a "30" opening, max.). But he managed to get 2 decent ones. To see them, click on the link at the end of the story.
When René decided to call it a day, we realized our coolers were stacked! 16 really big and fat togs, 4 triggers, 2 big stripers, a smaller one, and 3 huge blue fish. More than 250 lb of fish, total! (I weighed what I could yesterday. Today I ordered a second freezer, as the 24 ft one is loaded with pheasants, ducks, woodcocks, and other game. I haven't gone for the great white geese yet! We have a 36 birds bag limit per hunter this year!)
We had no choice but to cancel Monday's diving (Thanksgiving Day in Canada), and head back to Montreal the same night.
What a beautiful way to end the
season... or isn't it over yet?
To see some of the pictures taken that weekend, CLICK HERE!
The world famous film director/producer Stephen Spielberg once admitted that watching the
movie "Lawrence of
Arabia", directed by David Lean, ignited his desire to become a film director.
Today, I say that it was The Great Ata's home page which awakened my interest in web