Islands One for the Books 4/9/22

Jan 31, 2013
Boat Name
Stoned Fish
Saw the beautiful weather coming and decided to take advantage of it this weekend. First-timer buddies and I left the dock at around 6:00am and stopped to see Michael at the bait barge. I got to see the bait boat loading the pens for the first time and spoke with the captain for a minute about the cool operation they've got goin. Got our (nice and cured) bait and we were on our way.

Good conditions made the crossing fairly pleasant and we were at the spot in no time. My friends were down to try diving so I gave them a quick crash course on gear and technique then sent it. I jumped in and saw that the vis was slightly murky but still 20ft+ through the haze. Second thing I noticed was the crazy amount of life in the water. Tons and tons of bait bundled up in the current. All of the signs and indicators were lining up so I decided to start with a nice warm-up dive.

I dove to 25ish feet and started finning slowly, just taking the scenery in. Right when I started thinking about coming up, I saw a flash of yellow in the distance. My mind just started goin "Oh shit. Be cool." Like I was at my first dance or something. Soon, one flash of yellow turned into like fifteen. I turned and looked at em and slowly moved my gun over but damn, they didn't like that. I swam down and away from the school, pointing my head and the gun in a different direction. Gave it a few seconds and when I looked back, the fifteen fish turned into I don't know how many. I was staring at a giant wall of big ass yellowtail and they were really close. I slowly put out my gun and watched a fish swim right into my line of sight. Waited for a center mass shot and let her rip. I watched the shaft fly through the fish then got a solid tug, confirming it was game on.

After all that, I remembered that I really needed to breathe. I started swimming hard for the surface but the fish was unusually heavy on my line. I got my hand on my reel line release tensioner and screwed it as loose but the line wasn't coming out of the gun. I looked closely and saw that my reel line was wrapped up in the bands. Tried to fumble with it for a second but the tension was too great and my tank was on E. I gave it everything I had for the surface and slowly but surely made it up. I was up for about a second and got a single half breath in before I was pulled back down, swallowing a nice mouthful of water. This fish was tryna kill me back! No problem though, I'm used to the drowning feeling by now and I had a good shot so I just held on and kept finning as hard as I could. Got pulled down another few times but was able to call my buddies over for moral support.

Eventually, we made it into shallower water and I just had to deal with him trying to kelp and rock himself. A cool five minutes later I had the fish in my hands. My personal best yellowtail at 33.7 pounds on the scale and on the first dive of the day!! Tried to get another for like ten minutes but my ass was thoroughly kicked and we had plenty of meat so we packed up and ran to Avalon. Got there before 9am and spent the day swimmin, lounging in the sun, and drinking beer with the tunes on. Had sashimi and grilled yellowtail for dinner then checked out a few of the bars before crashing kinda early.

Woke up around 8, caught a barracuda on the mooring, and saw a giant black seabass swim under the boat while one of the guys went to get breakfast burritos. Trolled for bonito a little before leavin but couldn't get anything to stick so we headed back. Crossing back was a little weird with waves going seemingly in all directions but we made it safe and sound.

Catalina is my favorite place on earth and I can't wait to be back.



Heading South
Dec 12, 2007
Pacific Northwest / West Coast Mexico
Boat Name
I would be afraid to get back in after what you went through. I used to scuba dive and had all sorts of safety stuff (spare air, bang stick, etc.). How do you protect against shallow water blackout? Anything more than not hyperventilating?
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I took an FII Freediver class to learn about safe diving and highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Doing relaxed breath ups, sticking to 1:2ish dive to surface ratio, and keeping calm and relaxed in the water is a recipe for a good time.
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Ret. Comm. Diver Medic
May 11, 2007
You're mined!
Boat Name
1967 Cobia Cuddy Cabin/Evinrude Looper
Congrat's to you on the fat yellow.

Quick crash course on gear and technique sounds like a recipe for disaster!

Were you guys on scuba, or freediving?
They were mostly snorkeling in the shallows and trying out the pole spear so I wasn't too worried! All freediving.
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Sep 23, 2008
Dana Point
Boat Name
27 Worldcat
I know it’s tempting to go for the center mass shot especially when you probably haven’t seen a yellow in months. If the fish was close you could probably just as easily aim for the stone shot and save yourself the ass kicking as well as the potential that a fur bag will get your fish or it will tie up deep
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May 2, 2007
Boat Name
204 Angler
I know it’s tempting to go for the center mass shot especially when you probably haven’t seen a yellow in months. If the fish was close you could probably just as easily aim for the stone shot and save yourself the ass kicking as well as the potential that a fur bag will get your fish or it will tie up deep
I aim for the stone shot every time, I get it maybe one out of twenty times. Just glad I hit them when I shoot at them. Cheers!
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Long Beach Bob

I Should Upgrade My Account
May 13, 2004
Long Beach and points due west
Bob Ballew
Boat Name
2520 Parker with twin 200 Yamahas
...Well-written story!..A big yellow can take you down quick in a tangle, especially if the tangle is around your leg. Yellows tend to wrap around the nearest object to pull loose. I carry two knives when free on my arm and another on my lower leg..Learned this the hard way when I had a wsb wrapped down at 30' at RPV and reached for my knife to cut the kelp strands. No knife..It had come out of the sheath during the chase...Had to use my teeth to chew thru 4 kelp strands and free the fish...
....One of my closest calls was at Lion's Head, Catalina, when I speared a 50 plus yellow down about 40'..It headed for kelp strands to wrap and pull loose...I clamped down on the line to stop the fish and before I could react, it took me down to 70'....It was one long swim back up while fighting the fish...When you see grey "pings", you are right on the edge of a blackout...Survive enough free diving adventures and you will be a certified "old pro"... :)
...Then, there was the time 2 yellowtail came in on me in order to shake off a 16' great white following worked...but, that is a story for another time...Moral: Never trust yellow tail...
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