Cabrillo Harbor, Catalina – I speared a Huge Fish!!

– – Here are a couple posts I made while swinging on the hook this week on the north east side of Catalina.  We are back in Two Harbors for a cruisers weekend event, anchored in little fisherman’s cove.  Hope everyone is having a great Friday!! – –

October 16, 2013

CabrilloHarbor, Santa Catalina Island, CA, USA

Ellie and I are gently rocking at anchor to a slight NE swell and wind chop from the 15 knot breeze coming down the canyon.  The sun just set on another great day in Catalina.

I awoke this morning to absolutely gorgeous weather.  It was already 75 degrees by 9am and the forecast was calling for highs in the mid-80’s.  The wind was a gentle 5-7 knots from the west.  The water around Ellie was glassy and crystal clear.

My workout this morning consisted of 15 minutes scaling the companionway stairs then stretching on the bow followed by a vigorous row from Ellie to the lee of Long Point to scout for a good dive site.  Since there was little to no swell I was able to row right up to the entrance to a sea cave.  The cave entrance was about 10 feet above the water level so I tied off the dinghy and ventured up the rocks and into the cave (barefoot of course).  Once I made it to the entrance I could clearly see light coming from the other side.  I walked in and could see out the other side – how awesome.  I returned to the dinghy, climbed in, shoved off and rowed around Long Point to investigate the other entrance to the cave.  On my way around the point I could see huge kelp beds below through great visibility.  There were schools of fish and bait balls dancing through the kelp; I was getting more than excited for my dive today.  I wasn’t able to enter the other side of the cave due to the surge so I set a course back to Ellie to gather my gear.

After breakfast I loaded up the dinghy with my dive gear and spear gun and headed back to the lee of Long Point.  I suited up and slipped below the surface and entered a spectacular show of sea life.  There were tons of sardines, many schools of top smelt, calico bass of all sizes, huge sheepshead and a variety of other fish I couldn’t even identify.  I was literally swimming through the schools of fish as they swirled and danced all around me – it was surreal and amazing.  I followed the edge of the kelp forest and descended to 65 feet, where the big fish live.  I saw a bunch of large male sheepshead but didn’t shoot any because I was unfamiliar with the fishing regulations (I read up and they are fair game – it’s on for tomorrow ;-).

On the way back I decided to enter the kelp forest and hunt for dinner.  I saw a bunch of large fish but I didn’t know which were protected and which were fair game so I was only looking for Calico Bass this time; and a big one.  The Calico’s were quick to swim away from me as the other species would swim right up to my mask; I assume this behavior is learned as they surely have been hunted here before.  I held off shooting a few decent size fish because I wanted a big one.  I swam through a dense patch of kelp and emerged near a vertical canyon about 20 feet high.  As soon as I cleared the kelp a massive Calico Bass appeared and was swimming into the canyon.  He hesitated a moment too long as he gave me enough time to line up the spear gun and WHAM!  The spear shot out and struck him though the stomach and he flailed wildly in circles trying to escape.  He was bleeding so I was scanning all around me in fear of competition from sharks.  No sharks, OK, have to secure my catch now.  I swam over to him and grabbed the spear, he flailed wildly again.  I grabbed him and pinned him against the rock.  I had forgotten my dive knife so I pulled the spear out and then stabbed him in the brain.  He was motionless.  I pushed the spear all the way through his head and scanned again for sharks.  I cautiously ascended back to the surface, expecting an encounter with jaws any moment.  Luckily no predators this time.  It was kind of crazy because here I am with a big Calico Bass on my spear, bleeding, and as I am ascending the other fish are still coming up to me like there is nothing wrong here and I am not a threat.  I guess that’s just how cut throat the wild can be.

Once back at the dinghy I strung the bass on my dock line and hung it in the water to keep it cool.  I went back down to try and secure another but the gig was up and the Calico’s had vanished.

I rowed back to Ellie, cleaned the fish and made lunch.  After lunch I decided a change of scenery was in order so I pulled anchor and motored a few miles up the coast to CabrilloHarbor.  The weather has been relatively benign so the entire coast seems like one huge anchorage.  I dropped the hook in 75 feet and went rowing again to scout more dive sites.  Looks like Little Gibraltar point is promising.

I almost had the entire cove to myself but two kayakers set up camp for the night on the beach.  I almost went ashore to meet them out of curiosity but was too tired and not feeling social so I relaxed in the cockpit and made some dinner.

The sun set on another great day.  Too bad the weather isn’t forecast to stay warm.  Guess it’s getting time to head south!

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**Will upload more pics and video when connection allows**

 

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