«Blue Water & Blue
Fins in Blue Beirut»
it all Started
Blue Water & Blue Fins in Blue Beirut
Roger Y. Yazbeck
"Guns?? Guns, you said?"
" Yes sir. That's what I said.
I was trying the
«foot-in-the-door» psychology technique I learned from a 10 year old kid's
quote, "If you want your parents to buy you a dog, first ask for an
You have to
admit it: a single tourist with six pieces of luggage weighing over 75 lb.
each, should expect even the friendliest customs officer to investigate more
thoroughly. The 2 X 7 ft. long gun bags, contained 9 spearguns each between
60 and 120 cm., and 24 spears anywhere from 90 to 180 cm long.
I wasn't too sure of the water and hunting conditions I might
encounter, so I didn't take any chances.
I brought almost all my spearguns.
I was only supposed to have 5 pieces
of luggage, but the security officer in Montreal's Dorval Airport insisted
on accompanying me to the Air Canada counter so I could check-in my
loaded rubber weight belt. Some
Einstein at management, very seriously explained to me that the belt
could be used as a hijacking weapon, while drawing a large circle over his
head, mimicking David stoning Goliath with a sling. Yeah
I would really like to see a hijacker swinging his 22 lb. weight belt
all the way to the pilot's cabin. Arnold!
Anyway, I had to check the belt. Luckily, they didn't charge the
usual $150 extra per piece.
After my initial moment of panic, the
highest-ranking customs official finally showed up and asked me about the
guns. As I started to explain they were rubber band powered «arbaletes»,
the tension went down and they let me go through.
"You should have told us this was only
fishing equipment! Have a nice stay in Lebanon sir!"
I replied, while thinking to myself "Sure. If I had said fishing
equipment and they saw spearguns, Id be in a world of trouble. Ha!"
was hungry... starving for some
extreme freediving and underwater hunting.
But as the days went by, I grew more and more frustrated. True, I was practicing fulfilling freediving and
cardio-pulmonary workouts by moving up-currents and diving deep. But I wasn't getting any decent fish. Some days, a successful, new technique Id develop, like
calling the fish and getting them into my shooting range while in almost
impossible situations would enchant me.
But still, Im talking about small fish.
Minnows by U.S. and Canadian standards.
make matters worse, my best diving spots had been destroyed by construction.
Marinas had been built on top of them.
I had to discover new places. The
abrupt drop-off of the Lebanese shoreline made it difficult to locate any
new dive spots. One minute you
could be in 35 ft of water, 10 ft off the shore, and the next minute in 60
feet of water, 20 ft. from the shore. Incredibly,
if you swim out less than a quarter of a mile, you'd be in 500 ft of water!
It wasn't easy to find diveable spots that actually had fish, but the
good news is, you really don't need a boat!
week later, I started developing a severe sinus problem, which made it
impossible for me to dive anymore. With
nothing else to do, I started visiting local fish markets and harbours to
find out what types of fish were being caught in the area.
Apparently, the fishing wasn't very good because lots of imported
species were displayed in the markets, mainly from Turkey, Syria, Egypt,
Sudan and the Persian Gulf. This
was bad news. Am I going to
just sit there and complain about my bad luck or "create" a new
water hunting has never existed in Lebanon. There is no such thing as a blue
water gun, a bungee line, a foam injected float and so on ... heck, I
couldn't even find a 200 lb. test mono line!
Whenever I'd ask for it, the classical response I'd get from the shop
owner is, "There is no such fish in Lebanese waters, my friend.
You are not in America here!"
such fish, huh? We'll just see
had been hearing about boaters catching loads of albacore tuna off the
cities of Tripoli, Tyre and Saïda. The
largest were said to be in the 20 to 25 lb. range.
I asked about the blue fin tuna but the word was that these were to
be avoided, because wherever they were feeding, the albacore wouldn't bite.
The blue fin starts getting thick when the albacore season ends,
sometime around the last week of October. Then the blue fins can play freely
again until January.
day, after a successful spearfishing trip off the coast of «White Beach»,
in the coastal town of Kfar Abida, I drew a crowd with my catch.
One young man, Makram Daouk, came up to me and said that at this very
moment his friends were on his boat catching albacore.
He said that one of them dove in the middle of the feeding school and
speared an albie with a 70 cm pneumatic gun.
The spear was attached to his buddys fishing rod on the boat!
Of course, they lost the fish. Makram
made me laugh so hard, his curiosity was triggered.
I could land an albacore with my speargun, I told him, with no need
for a rod and reel to play the fish! I
have my own reel attached to the gun.
didn't seem to understand how it could be possible. Just couldn't even
imagine, I guess.
week, I got a phone call from Makram, the young man whom I had met on the
beach. He's a nice guy who learned to freedive and spearfish in Greece,
where he had lived for over 12 years during the war in Lebanon. He also is
one of Lebanons best windsurfers.
river of tuna ... I swear", his voice was trembling with excitement.
"I took a shot at one of them with a pneumatic gun but it was a
lot farther than I thought", he added.
did you attach the spear to the line of a rod and reel?", I replied
with mocking tone. "No. I attached the spear to a rope, which I then
attached to the boat fender", and then he quickly asked me if I
wouldn't mind joining him on his boat in order to show him how to hunt tuna.
Luckily, just the week before, I had received a shipment from France with my
Scupper Pro kayaks and 3 large Baywatch style, orange, plastic floats filled
with anti-compression foam. I
had my single band 120 and 110 cm long Picasso Carbono guns, lots of
Tahitian spears, one threaded 160 cm spear, and one slip tip.
I felt ready for tuna.
we decided to meet 2 hours later, at the Halat-Sur-Mer Marina (near the
historical Phoenician city of Byblos, or Jbeil, the oldest city in the
The ride to the tuna feeding spot was less than
15 minutes! The bait was
jumping all around us and the seagulls were having a feast on top of the
blue fins. What a sight! Three
times I jumped in the water, but the blue fins were so spooky and fast, I
couldn't even get a good look at one of them.
The sea started getting rough, it was late in the afternoon and we
had to go back. But I promised
Makram I'd come back in a couple of days and he'd have the sashimi hed
been dreaming about.
Dive Hard III - With a vengeance!