Winter Break February 11, 2013

As I start this post I am currently flying back from my winter break in Key West. I was able to have a full month at home and what a trip it was. From completing my third speargun, blue water spearfishing for wahoo, lobstering, fishing, and “skrimping” I head back to Greensboro, North Carolina, not very rested but with a grin stretching from ear to ear.

The break started off on the right foot. As soon as I touched down in Key West my brother pick me up and we headed straight to Hurricane Hole Marina to go on the boat lobstering. I couldn’t ask for a better welcome home present from my Big Bro. On Hugh Morgan’s SeaCraft we headed out to the Mud Keys to get our limit of 24 lobsters in less than two hours. This gave us time to go home and clean up before we feasted. It’s always a great feeling to get in the ocean after being deprived for a couple months.

To follow up on my last post, I did shoot my first fish with my second gun. John Paul Castro and Steve Davila invited me on a trip for wahoo, with no luck we ended up drifting the reef ranging from 60’ to 35’. About half way through the trip my sinuses started to act up, and I was feeling a lot of pressure in my left cheek. I was able to work through the discomfort. It’s funny when you see and drop down on a nice fish, you seem to forget about pain. JP went down on a breath to check out a line ledge in about 45’ and a nice Black Grouper decided to swim out the other side of the rock into another. I dropped down on him with his head facing the other direction and angled my gun into the hole and popped a shot. It was a decently placed shot, and I was able to pull him out of the hole and bring him up to the surface on the same breath.  Probably should have got a photo but I have a track record for not doing so.

Most of the spearfishing trips I was able to make this winter break were with Steven Davila and JP Castro. Because of their fascination with shooting wahoo, I got to experience a new type of spearfishing that I had yet to do. Mostly doing drifts in anywhere from 80’ to 150’as we would look for these elusive stripped torpedoes. I am accustom to going on the boat with the sole purpose to bring meat home, but one drift in particular showed that experiences can be just as valuable.

The story begins as I am getting the Friday night started by having some beers with my friends in the back of Zack’s place. We are taking advantage of the foggy night to mask the smoke of a rare Key West bonfire. Right on Q, I receive a text message around 10:30 from JP asking if I want to go on the boat. So a few Bud Lights deep, I tell my friends I’m shutting it down to go on the boat and ride my Conch Cruiser home to get ready. Around 6:30 am I drag my brother out of bed after his rough day on the sandbar the day before to tag along since I have never been spearfishing with him.

On this trip we took one of Stevie’s friend’s Jupiter boat with Rick Gage, Stevie, JP, my brother Ben, and myself. We pulled out of a Key Haven canal to be first welcomed by thousands of pelicans chilling on the water. None of us have ever seen pelicans in this large of number here before, nor knew why they were there. After pulling into Murray’s Marine to fuel up, we departed.

It was a beautiful day, as we approached Sand Key the water was crystal clear and showed a promising day of diving. We stopped on the bar to do some reef drifts before we tried for Wahoo. I saw the biggest Kingfish and Mutton Snapper in my life but none gave me any chance since as I tried to drop down on them they could see me coming from mile away with the excellent visibility. JP shot a nice Mutton and I had a nice male Hogfish in the box, but nothing serious. Two fish were not going on to keep us from trying to shoot a wahoo.

It was our second drift in deeper water when shit started to pop off. We got some, what I thought at the time, small marcels but I have come to the conclusion they were smaller wahoo very deep. Then Wahoo! Three of them came up swimming 40’ in front of me as I got JP’s attention.

Honestly, I was kind of unsure how to go about approaching them. JP took no time and busted ass after them with me tailing behind. He dove and landed a nice shot in the gill plate of a massive wahoo.

With JP dealing with his fish I see three more wahoos in the distance. So I start chasing them with everything I had until my hamstrings were cramping up in knots as the fish gracefully swam just out of range, causally glancing back at me. I soon realize that I am spent and kind of far from the boat so I head back to check out JP and his fish.

Unfortunately, JP’s fish has ripped off.

Doing the same drift we didn’t see any more wahoo but there were plenty of sharks. I have had numerous shark encounters in shallow water but they act completely different in blue water. We saw at least three Hammerheads and numerous Dusky sharks. These Hammerheads were rocketing up from the bottom and gracefully speed in to take a close up look at us and dart away after a poke with the tip of our spear. At one point we had 7 sharks in the water with us. Talk about trying to keep your head on a swivel.  During all this action a huge Sailfish decides to reveal itself in the distance to JP and me.

All in all it was a rough day to see so many fish and have nothing to show for it, other than the experience of being in the deep blue water with friends, my brother, and some incredible fish. It was a day to remember.

During my month I ended up finishing my third speargun that I had started working on this past summer. I already had the stock cut out with the Tuna Mechanism, enclosed track fitted, and the handle shaped before I left for my fall semester at UNCG. Diving into it, I started by attaching the handle and butt to the gun using the same half-inch dowel with epoxy that I used on the last gun.

With the epoxy hard as a rock the gun was actually functional, but I still had to cut the slot for the line release, some chiseling, and sanding left.

After all what was said was done, the second gun came out awesome. I am glad I took my parent’s advice to build two guns because the second one turned out clean. The guns are very similar but each have a unique feel to them.

One of a Kind

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My workshop in the back of my house

My workshop in the back of my house

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A mutton carving soon to come

A mutton carving soon to come

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Hammerhead in the distance

Hammerhead in the distance

Hammerhead photo by Steven Davila with JP in the distance

Hammerhead photo by Steven Davila with JP in the top right

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The Muffin Man

The Muffin Man

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Nelson Morales is currently using this Conch Cannon

Nelson Morales is currently using this Conch Cannon

Cole Harrison

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