Here is the actual story behind my fish:
I was continuously putting off this trip to a productive spot which an old friend has so graciously shared with me. One of his terms was for me not to share it with anyone else, and although I don't mind diving alone it is not my favorite thing to do. This being the 4th time I planned a trip there this year, I was out of excuses. Since it is a coastal bed, I loaded my kayak and drove to the beach.
I paddled out in what should have been questionable weather, but in reality the weather was beautiful. The site is usually mediocre at best in terms of viz., but to my surprise the viz. was nothing short of spectacular at 25-30 ft. I paddled up to my bed looking for hanging fish, asking the nearby kayak fishermen for permission to pull up uncomfortably close. After I finished gearing up, I slipped into the water and was greeted by an array of curious rockfish.
As I cautiously swam through the bed I wondered if I was going to be lucky enough to encounter the caliber of fish I have seen there the previous year. My question was answered shortly as I saw my first large white seabass of the season. The fish appeared to be sleeping, and as I quietly tried to approached it on the surface it made no movement. My problem was that the fish was only 3 ft. under the kelp canopy, and every time I tried to get closer the thick kelp would block my field of view and also my shot. I had the impression that if I tried to dive on this fish, it would spook. The closest I could get to this fish was about 25 ft. and my experience told me taking a shot at that distance was too risky. I decided to back up quietly and surprise the 30 lb. class fish from beneath. I don't know what gave me away, but by the time I maneuvered within range, the fish was gone. I knew the good thing was that I did not spook the others, and this one leisurely swam off.
Less than five minutes later I dove down about 15 ft. to be pleasantly surprised by 3 fish about 20 ft. from me. They were just passing behind a wide stringer and I could have definitely taken a shot, since I saw the shimmering bodies through the kelp. Instead, I tried to close the distance and intercept them once they passed the stringer. The fish, in the 40 lb. range, turned and shadowed the stringer away from me. Rather than push my luck, I fell back and let them swim off. I exercised lots of restraint thus far, and I was hoping it was going to pay off. This is what happened next:
I dove down hoping that lady luck would bless me with a third opportunity. 20 ft. down I saw a solitary fish, which appeared to be in the 30 lb. range. As soon as I showed interest, it turned away and started to leisurely swim off. I attempted to parallel the fish through the kelp, but the fish swam past the kelp bed into the open water; this forced me to fall behind and start tailing. I knew my success here essentially depended on the actions of the fish. I was about 20 ft. behind the fish, well into my dive, and I realized I was losing ground. Soon all I saw was the flicker of the tail. The next thing I saw was a giant flash as the fish turned to take a look at me. I knew this was my opportunity. As my momentum was pushing me forward I aimed for the sweet spot just behind the head and pulled the trigger. Almost immediately the line started ripping off the reel and I knew I was likely going for a ride. I wasted no time thinking about it and stared swimming after the fish; in reality I was also being dragged as I tightened up on the reel drag. The fish took 90 % of my line before it stopped. It went back into the same kelp bed, then out into the open, and finally tied up in 30 ft. of water at the very edge of the 2nd bed.
It took me several dives to find the fish and I saw it undulating its body against the bottom; this gave me an uncomfortable feeling, especially after seeing I actually had a belly shot, although a very good one. Pushed by a sense of urgency, I did a short breath-up and made my way down to the fish. I knew better than to immediately engage the gills of this fish; instead I paralyzed it by stabbing it across the face-this made it easier and safer to brain. I wasted no time getting my wsb to the surface. The fish was not badly tangled and the shooting line pulled through the stringer. As I slipped the fish into the kayak I was finally allowed to relax and enjoy my victory. I felt successful that day, and I was thrilled my 60 GR Plus performed as well as it did. I attribute the belly shot to the fact the fish was on the move, and likely further away than I calculated it to be. In the heat of the moment I didn't compensate for the shaft drop, or the speed of the fish, and thus I earned myself a ride to go along with my fish. The experience was spectacular and I am very grateful things went down the way they did; the fish went 51lbs and 4 oz. and is my personal best. I only realized I might have a fish over 50 lbs. when my 50 lb. digital scale "errored" out during my weighing attempts.
Two weeks later I shot another fish in a nearby kelp bed. The viz. was only 5-7 ft. that day, and I was in the water for 3 hours when I scored an amazing opportunity at a surface shot. This fish was 2 ft. away from my muzzle. I was forced to pan into position and didn't quite make it to the head when I saw the great gills flare as the fish was "springing the trap" before it bolted. I pulled the trigger and earned another ride. This fish took even more of my line, but the retrieval essentially went down the same way. The 2nd fish went exactly 51 lbs. Sorry for the long write up, but I wanted to share my success story as if you were actually there; in a way you were. Thank you again for my great gun.
I know it is overdue, but here is a pic of my personal best WSB. The fish went 51lbs, 4 oz. I shot it using my 60 GR Plus from about 15 to17 ft. The fish was on the go but finally turned and presented a shot opportunity. Thanks for a great gun.
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Friday, January 15, 2021