Ryan Sweeney
Hey Daryl,

Thought you would enjoy this story from this past saturday... boy how I love that 55" hybrid.

Also, I believe we, the San Diego Freedivers flaked on reaching out to you regarding whether you are interested in sponsoring our upcoming Blue Water Meet raffle Happening AUGUST 31st... we apologize for the short notice!! this year the proceeds are being donated to the FOCP (Friends of Childrens Pool) to aid in the legal battles as our ocean access rights are being blatantly violated by the city. Anything you can offer in support is greatly appreciated and we can provide you with our 501 (c) 3 information for tax deduction purposes. We hope to have you onboard again this year! Thanks and hope you enjoy the story below :)

Today I awake on the most very right side of the bed after having an adventure in which goals made for this season actually came to fruition. No doubt some luck was involved as always. When mother ocean decides it is time, it is time. On the flip side, we put the time, continuously do the research in the hopes to put ourselves in the right place, hoping it may be the right time.
So yet again, a social weekend is sacrificed. A plan is set with a crew of awesome friends/spearos and that god awful alarm clock breaks silence at 4am. Today the crew of 4 headed out on Justin's boat for what was bound to be a long day as we travel out of San Diego and into Mexican waters.

We knew it would be a long day and the target destination was out there. The wind was slated to pick up in the afternoon and conditions had the potential to get snotty. We see a couple friends at the boat launch and decide to buddy boat out for a while and communicate via radio as team efforts often reap bigger rewards. We push out as the sun is just barely starting to peek over the horizon, south bound and down.

Conditions were great, water temps fluctuated a bit but were mostly within the desired ranges. There was some wind texture on the water much earlier than expected, but it was workable, we had a focus and pushed on. The boat traffic was what you would expect for a Saturday with good fishing reports going around. Paddies weren't too difficult to find although not all of them were holding fish. The usual dolphins dance in our wake and work the surface with their pods in thoughtful yet random syncronization. Eventually we see some Bluefin Tuna boils off in the distance. For a spearfisherman, the task of getting into a school of these is not easy. The schools move fast, they don't stop unless you have bait or a reason to peak their curiosity.

We try to slide-in in front of the school and Alan begins tossing an iron in the hopes one may bite. The school quickly sinks out and we resume the search, watching the birds and any other subtleties that may steer our next move. Them boom, they're on the surface again and we're running when all of a sudden a paddy catches our attention. We decide to check it out as we were seeking Dorado and Yellowtail as well and the odds of them being home were much greater than us being successful with putting a diver on these Bluefin. This is where the luck comes in... To our surprise, the Bluefin school was behind us and happened to be heading towards the paddy. It's my turn to jump in and over the side I go. Crystal clear water, jellies doing they're thing. Bait balls bunched up tightly beneath the paddy come to greet me as they usually do when all of a sudden I look down and am blown away by the sight of a school I have never seen 1st hand before. About 100 little football sized bluefin tuna can be made out about 50' below. I sound the alarm and shout to the boat with excitement... TuNa!!!

At this point I'm still loading Wong 55" hybrid and watching them go by, hoping but not expecting to actually get a shot off. I take a quick breath and down I go. To my surprise the school swings back around for another look as I become surrounded by the school. It's a truly remarkable sight to see and all I could think about was keeping my cool and focusing on whichever one of these lil rocket ships would offer up a shot. Here I lie, Lingering at around 40', mesmerized when all of a sudden it happens. A smooth pull of the trigger on my trusty Wong Hybrid lets the shaft fly until boom... it connects with a solid head shot on this little Bluefin. In all the excitement my years of experience kinda flew out the window and all i could think about was getting this fish onboard so I yell for the boat... Tuna on! get the #*%$ over here!!!! At which point i look down to see this thing swimming straight up towards me like a missile with the shaft sticking out of its head. It proceeds to almost wrap my legs and then heads off again. I'm just chuckling with excitement as Alan swims over to help and the boat pulls up. The wad of tangled line, gun and the fish are passed up and well, at that point the excitement on the boat was electric. These are the moments we dream of.

By this time the seas had grown larger, the winds picked up to gusts in the neighborhood of 15-20mph. Justin's boat can handle this but it was anything but a dry and comfy ride. We're taking waves over the bow that continue to soak us thoroughly thru. Spotting paddies is uh, well a challenge to say the least... but our mission is not yet complete as we're still deep in the fishing grounds. The search continues. Paddies are found and divers descend. We manage to find multiple small schools of yellowtail and a couple decided to come home with us. All of a sudden myself and an experienced fisherman, who is new to the spearfishing game, Arno are up at bat and what do you know... another school of Bluefin circle below us on a paddy. I couldn't believe we may actually have ANOTHER shot at this! Well, This school was moving fast, we both drop, hoping for a shot but they weren't giving it up. Arno takes a bit of a hail mary and misses and the school sinks out. Man, there's something about being in a school of bluefin that is just plain ol mesmerizing and how awesome is it that such a new diver even has a chance to take a shot... I'm sure many seasoned vets will be a bit envious.

So the rough conditions continue. We're still deep in the zone but heading towards home. At this point the radio decided to stop working and the fuel gauge was well, leaving some of us a little concerned. Could another more disastrous perfect storm be shaping up? The seas tossed and at one point everyone in the boat was thrown about, my almost falling off the side before Arno came crashing across into me. hahaha... all in a good days adventure. In all honesty, our boat should have had more fish onboard. Some silly mistakes were made but at least we got the ones that count. Days like this are full of knowns and we motored back, past the Coronado's, into the channel and home to beautiful San Diego right around sunset... satisfied, exhausted, excited and eager for more another day. Thank you mother ocean and planet earth for all of your wonder and might. You are awesome.

Ryan Sweeney

Thanks to Daryl Wong for building such amazing guns. this beauty was swimming away from me at about 12-15' away... my trusty 55" GR allowed me to put the shaft right behind the left fin and then the slip tip toggled in the gills... Didn't waste 1 oz. of meat. But also didn't put too much of a hurting on the fish either. It spooled me and was still dragging me under. Epic battle.

Hi Daryl,

     All in all, I am really enjoying this 55" hybrid that I bought from a fellow spearboarder recently. It feels great in the water and has put a few nice fish on the boat already...what more can I ask for? Thanks for making such great pieces.

Anyway...Yesterday, August 26, 2009...my 32nd birthday. Where does the time go?...and oh how greatful I am to live in this paradise known as San diego.

Damien & Robert (from J&J), Brian (Moto619), Antoinette (a great friend of mine) & me (duh) head out at 5:30am to do some paddy hoppin.
It started off a bit slow...there were plenty of paddies & a lot of bait but aside from that the big blue was feeling kinda like a ghost town.

After a while Brian is startin to get that funny guy personality he wears so well...we jump in on a paddy and I am about 3/4 of the way around it when he starts yellin something about DoDo's. At first I think he's kidding until I round the corner and see he's got one strung up at about 30ft. after he stoned it. Nice shot chief. Then I notice about 10-12 others that are curious but keeping a distance. They came my way a bit, I aimed, shot...and didn't connect. Then of course they got more curious as I was reloading...but kept their distance as Robert & I tried to lure them in after that. Finally we gave up and moved on.

A handful of paddies later we come across a school of about 4-6 yellowtails. Now to this point in my fishing career let me tell you...I have shot one YT and had it tear off. I have seen a wall of about 100 swim by me just out of range w/ a lil 100cm euro & not have the skill to get em closer... I have, well lets just say that i've had what I think is every excuse possible for not bringing home fish despite seeing them.

My mom thinks there's something subconscious at play and that i don't really want to "hurt the fish"...haha. moms. OK, back on track here... the point...4-6 yellows, swimmin right by me...they get curious, come in closer, closer again...start to turn sideways and I let one fly...WHAT! No F'ing WAY! How could I miss that shot!!!! it was MAYBE 15ft. at the very most.

NOTE: target practice is a very good idea. If you're reading this and saying...yes, it is. why don't I go do that?...and haven't done it...stop reading now and get your A$$ in the water with a target fool!

OK, so back to the story...yes, I missed an easy shot and was starting to think that my birthday chances are looking slim. 2 missed shots. Lot's of vacant paddies and it's getting a bit later in the day...but we're not done yet. Damien, Brian, Robert and I are scoutin paddies like champs and givin it the ol 100% effort on every last one, regardless of size. It was obvious that everyone was pushing for me to meet my goal of 20lb or bigger.

Finally we come up on a big ol paddy. Probably 25ft. or so. Brian's in first and I'm not far behind...with Robert in tow. Brian is off to my right and I see him start to track something. I trace the line and see a YT heading towards me. Since he was lined up I decided to turn away so he could get a clean shot (ya know, without me as a back-drop incase his laser accuracy fails him this time!).

Well, the YT decides to check me out as I'm swimming away...so I turned, took careful aim this time and let one fly. After a slight pause that lasted probably no more than a 1/2 second, boom...he starts running straight for the paddy, peeling the line off my 55" wong hybrid. He makes it straight to the center of the paddy, pops thru the surface and from what Damien & Ant said was floppin around ON-TOP of the paddy...a good 10 ft. in.

I knew if it took me this long to finally land a respectable fish that It wasn't gonna come easy. Basically, i tried climbing, tearing, cutting thru the paddy. I finally reached the shaft but man, this fish was tied up something fierce. Brian & Robert dove below the paddy and saw it's tail somewhere in the middle. I finally went down to check it out, grabbed this F'ers tail and started tuggin with all I got. I wasn't gonna surface unless it was with this fish. Gave it the 'ol bear hug - to death grip at the gills & then the final knife to the skull.

It weighed in at 22.25lbs gutted & bled so the 24-25lb. range sounds about right. Words don't do justice to how stoked I am on FINALLY getting over this hump. I was starting to wonder if "I" was the bad luck omen or something. haha. Many great lessons were learned along the way & I'm incredibly excited for more to come...but am most greatful to have it fall on my birthday and be with a group of truly awesome friends. Thanks guys. You F&*#ing Rock!!!

Time in Hawai'i: