My gun is 52" and I it has a reel and a slip tip
My First White Sea bass
I had been in the water for about an hour when I shot my first white. I was on the bottom at about 20 ft when I saw it, and I knew I had time to pay close attention to the fish. It was barred, and considering the fact that I haven't even witnessed that many whites, I stared at it for a moment, making sure that it wouldn't be a mistake to shot. The fish looked decent sized, not huge, but big enough for me to have some fear of what was to come when I pulled the trigger. My shot was good, and the fish pulled line out of my reel as I swam to the surface to breath. I had not used a reel before or even shot a fish with my recently purchased Daryl Wong, and had no idea how the whole process was going to work. I let the fish continue to take line until it stopped. Then I put my head underwater and saw the yellow line stretched off of the reel in what appeared to be an endless zigzag of tangles through the kelp that disappeared into the murky depths. Lifting my head out of the water, I looked around, noted how far away the aluminum skiff was, and how the kelp seemed to be getting thicker and thicker. I had absolutely no idea what to do, and realized I should have probably thought this all out beforehand. I was frozen. I didn't want to let go of my gun, but I didn't know how to find my fish without dropping my gun. It felt as though I had been treading water in place, holding my shaftless gun while intermittently surveying the yellow line to check if the tangles had magically gone away for at least a half an hour. I'm not sure what to call it. It wasn't quite a panic. It was paralysis-- until I started to get tired.
I looked back at the skiff and my heart lit up when I saw him. "George!" I yelled. He must of already gotten a fish and brought it back to the boat. I could see him standing toward the stern and it looked like he was watching me. It must have been obvious that I had a fish, but George didn't move. Maybe his back was to me. I started waving my arms, "George!" I yelled louder. What was his problem? He told me to yell for him if I got a fish and now he wasn't even paying attention. The kelp was tangled around my fins and my legs were tired. I laid my body across the water to rest and breathe out of my snorkel, but my mask started filling with water and then my snorkel was filling with water. I started thinking about Hemmingway's 'The Old Man and the Sea.' Maybe thatís what this was all about. This fish might actually kill me. Earlier in the year I told some friends and family that my life goal was to spear a white seabass, otherwise I could not die in peace. And here I did it, maybe now I was going to die.
"Geeoorrge!" I screamed. "Sierra?" he responded from behind me. I turned around and made out his black snorkel camouflaged in the kelp. "I got one!" I told him.
It seemed like it took him a long time to swim over to me and meanwhile I looked back at the skiff and realized it was the cleat post that I thought was him. No wonder he looked so skinny.
"Sierra, you have a nice fish. Give me your gun, and now go down and get your fish."
My knife was in my hand. I followed the yellow line down as it switchbacked around the kelp stalks making me dizzy until I saw the fish, flopping around on the bottom. George told me to stab it on the back of its head to kill it, so I wrapped my arms around the fish and gave a good jolt so I could bring it up. I had forgotten about the line and soon realized that the fish was more tangled than myself. I surfaced to breathe and George told me to go back down and disconnect the yellow reel line from the line connected to the shaft. Maybe I should have inspected my gun before I shot a white with it because I had no clue how it worked- I didnít know that I could disconnect the shaft from the rest of the line. It made sense once I went back down and found what George was talking about, disconnected the line and brought the fish up. George reeled in the line and helped me remove the tip from the fish, so that I could tie it around my weight belt. I swam back to the boat with my fish. It was only 28 lbs, but it made me think of the marlin from The Old Man and the Sea, which I imagine was well over 1500 lbs.
What if George wasn't there? He did it the right way, coaching me through the process instead of going down and retrieving the fish for me. I was tired, but after I dragged that little fish into the boat, we went out and dove again, and I shot another one. It was a repeat story of the first fish, and again George came to the rescue. Now I think I'm ready. I better be because I often dive alone.
Thanks and Aloha,
Time in Hawai'i: