Monsters in the Mist

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Monsters in the Mist

Postby chris oak » May 9th, 2019, 9:54 am

I'd have to say it's been one of the roughest seabass years I've had since I started probably. Usually by now I have at least 4, and grant it, even though I've been busy with life I was still batting 0 fish for 5 trips. My buddies were faring worse, I know one guy who was zero for 40 plus trips. I think I would have killed myself or started bowling.

Some of you guys know Mike Raabe, he's a really good diver and also a fantastic photographer/videographer. He was working on a story for a big magazine on white seabass hunting and had photoed pretty much everything else for that article except seabass from this year. He gave me a call right when I touched down from family vacation with some news of a big school at Oaks Island.

Unfortunately, I had to work a few days since I had been off a week, but we planned on a mid week trip. Conditions couldn't be better, flat seas, clear water and no one on the islands. Unfortunately our intel wasn't too great and we only knew the general vicinity, but as soon as we got there I was shocked at how little kelp there was. I was even more shocked that I didn't hear any seabass, I ALWAYS hear seabass croaking there, but today it was pretty quiet. We hit every bed we could find with nary a sighting. except one twelve pounder that swam right up to my gun but I sure didn't want any pix of me holding that! We had great conditions but no fish.

A week or so later we tried a different reef. Conditions here was just fair, maybe ten or twelve foot vis and when we slipped in the water it was again absent of croaking. We cruised all over the bed looking for fish, and I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get one. It was about an hour later I met up with him mid bed and told him we'd give it another half hour and then move on.

I started moving around as quietly as I could and made a drop after breathing up for a while. Right when I leveled off a very big seabass passed under me followed by a smaller one. I took the sure shot and pointed my gil gun at the smaller fish that was departing and squeezed the trigger. The fish split and I held onto the floatline as it began the familiar tow.

Matt Lopez from Dark Waters had just built me a 120' bright blue/green floatline with a 6 foot bungee to my specs. That fish didn't even get passed the bungee, it worked exactly as we planned an would stretch out the bungee and then it would recoil back, I like it to be that way so it's like fighting a fish on a fishing rod and thus has a harder time tearing out in the soft flesh. That floatline is amazing and glows underwater, even in the murk.

I kept looking and finally spotted Mike and hissed "MIKE, fish on!"as the fish dragged me around. He immediately booked it towards Gigas to grab his camera. I was worrying the fish would tear out or maybe something would happen and we wouldn't get it but right when the fish tied up Mike arrived. I dropped down and noted the fish was tired and the shot was solid. Mike followed me and started snapping pix.

I did my normal thing and brained the fish and then bled it and we swam it back to the boat while giving each other high 5's. The magazine article was due in a few days, this was after the extension he had gotten. Mike took a ton of shots, but I won't be able to post these until the mag drops he also did a great Drone shot which I will probably enlarge for m house as I'm standing on Gigas, I also got video of the shot which I will edit and post when I have some down time.

I weighed the fish at work and it went a decent 55.1 lbs, not a giant but man did it feel good to finally get on one. My guess is that the bigger fish was in the 60's. We talked about going back to see if there were any more so Mike could get one, but he had a deadline that was rapidly approaching so he opted to edit the pix. Mike shot photos as I processed the fish, my coworkers took probably twenty pounds home and most of the rest went to my neighbors, I've got about five pounds for myself. My boy had been requesting fresh sashimi for a few weeks so we dined on sashimi, then poke and then did a teriyaki marinade on the bbq on the collar. Wow what a meal!

When the mag drops, I'll let you guys know, until then you'll have to live with some pix of the epic meals. I was 1 fish out of 7 trips, and I tried going again a few days later. Guess what, I'm now 1/9 trips lol and I wonder if my season is over.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby BigJim » May 9th, 2019, 10:37 am

Awesome!!!

Great write up and the food looks amazing.

:handgestures-thumbupleft:

Looking forward to seeing the pics and the article!!

:obscene-drinkingcheers:

:greetings-wavingyellow:

Sincerely,

Jim
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby John Hughes » May 9th, 2019, 11:25 am

that first pic gets my blood pumping. I won't bring up what my average was this year as I'm trying to keep my chin up. :)

nice write up Chris.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby Miguel naa » May 9th, 2019, 11:48 am

Oh man, my record is terrible. I feel like I’m doomed to start bowling for sure.

Nice write up Chris, it’s the only motivation I have left at this point.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby undrH2Ohntr » May 9th, 2019, 12:05 pm

I went 0 for 13 last season...first year I never shot a seabass. I am 0 for 4 full day trips this season, trying to stay positive because I have seen fish twice.
Last year one buddy shot a 50lber on my boat and another buddy shot a 60lber...I never saw shit.

Glad you got one.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby raabephoto » May 9th, 2019, 1:24 pm

Great write up Chris! Thank you for letting me tag along and take photos of you doing your thing! It’s been a long White Sea Bass season for me and Chris was able to bring it all home for me and the article. I dove 27 days with 5 different divers and all over SoCal. I managed 1 fish with Chris and 1 fish eaten by 7 gills in that time. It’s been a humbling experience but in many ways it made the photo essay that much better with all the time in the water and talkjng with other wsb hunters. Check out the summer issue of Outdoor Life Magazine, it has an 8 page photo essay about hunting wsb. I’ll let you know when it’s out.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby mikeme » May 9th, 2019, 1:46 pm

Great write up Chris. Congrats on the fish.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby Trace » May 9th, 2019, 8:29 pm

Chris all that I can say is you have a spoiled Kid! Good for You!
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby Trace » May 9th, 2019, 8:33 pm

Great write up by the way!
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby NaClAddict » May 10th, 2019, 6:11 am

55 is a solid fish in my book, I guess I’m old school. I’m still proud of the 46 I shot last century.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby Avenues » May 10th, 2019, 4:58 pm

Congrats Chris, I love that first picture. Tough season that’s for sure!
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby Gavinzhao » May 13th, 2019, 8:10 am

Hi Chris,

I got your message and want reply you back however my account doest not allow me to do that.

I'm new to spearfishing and i'm currently use scuba gear. I want to know learn more about this sport and willing to learn free diving if i have to.

Any scuba spearfishing club in la or long beach you know?

regards

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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby chris oak » May 14th, 2019, 11:12 am

Hi Gavin, yes in your area you would want to check out the Long Beach Neptunes, the Los angeles Fathomiers, or the Orange County Spearos. If you are looking to get on bigger fish you definitely will have to start freediving, so you might want to look into a freediving class, like FII.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby Captn Ron » May 14th, 2019, 5:30 pm

Nice write up Chris! Love the pic.
i swim in circles alot
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby dam » May 15th, 2019, 12:50 pm

Nice fish and I have to echo the others on the first pic. You should let Mike Raabe know if it's big seabass he's looking for, he should follow me around instead.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby Gavinzhao » May 16th, 2019, 8:11 am

chris oak wrote:Hi Gavin, yes in your area you would want to check out the Long Beach Neptunes, the Los angeles Fathomiers, or the Orange County Spearos. If you are looking to get on bigger fish you definitely will have to start freediving, so you might want to look into a freediving class, like FII.



thx, will find a coach and started ASAP:).
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby Gavinzhao » May 21st, 2019, 8:05 am

chris oak wrote:Hi Gavin, yes in your area you would want to check out the Long Beach Neptunes, the Los angeles Fathomiers, or the Orange County Spearos. If you are looking to get on bigger fish you definitely will have to start freediving, so you might want to look into a freediving class, like FII.



Hi chris,

I want started free diving and spearfishing, do you have a name you recommend could teaching free diving and spearfishing ?

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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby spearthebigones » June 16th, 2019, 12:29 am

Daniel
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby dam » June 17th, 2019, 11:03 am

Man, that article is packed with amazing photos. The first line kills me:
You're not a true spearfisherman in California until you've speared a white sea­bass. And after you've done that, you're still not legit until you've killed a fish that tips 70 pounds.

As a 1 time +70lb seabass shooter, I do feel sorry for you wannabe sub 70lb wsb divers... :arms: :o
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Monsters in the Mist

Postby Alex Ray » June 17th, 2019, 12:38 pm

You're not a true spearfisherman in California until you've speared a white sea­bass. And after you've done that, you're still not legit until you've killed a fish that tips 70 pounds.


Well, I guess the majority of us are just pretend seabass divers then.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby Bill McIntyre » June 17th, 2019, 1:21 pm

Alex Ray wrote:
You're not a true spearfisherman in California until you've speared a white sea­bass. And after you've done that, you're still not legit until you've killed a fish that tips 70 pounds.


Well, I guess the majority of us are just pretend seabass divers then.


Especially you Alex.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby Nate Baker » June 17th, 2019, 2:59 pm

I'm getting tired of being illegitimate.

Pretty fun photo essay.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby Bill McIntyre » June 17th, 2019, 3:36 pm

Nate Baker wrote:I'm getting tired of being illegitimate.

I always wondered why people said you were a bastard.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby spearthebigones » June 17th, 2019, 4:15 pm

I don't want to be legit. I just want a 60 lbr
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Monsters in the Mist

Postby Alex Ray » June 17th, 2019, 4:32 pm

Bill McIntyre wrote:Especially you Alex.


Agreed.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby raabephoto » June 19th, 2019, 6:51 pm

I have to admit I was surprised when I saw the 70lber comment too. The writer asked me if I want to change anything, and I thought about it(sounds a bit arrogant) but ultimately I let it ride because it’s true. It is a benchmark that we all strive for and only some of us have done. My biggest is only 67 lbs,
So I’m not legit either... but you can be damn sure that is a major spearfishing goal of mine and until a couple weeks ago I hadn’t even shot a seabass this year. Hunting White Sea Bass is a challenging, thrilling and many times humbling experience. As far as the first line, I’d say yeah, if you consider yourself a California spearfishermen, spearing a White Sea Bass is an important goal, along with grabbing a 10” abalone, they are benchmarks. Yeah I know we can’t do that right now but hopefully the fishery will open up sooner then later. I hope people look at spearing a cbass and getting a 70lber as goals not a way to feel offended. Anyways thank you for checking out the photo essay and I appreciate your feedback. Chris, Ryan, and Scotty did an amazing job hunting cbass with me and I’m stoked on how it turned out! This magazine has been around for 100 years and this is the first time spearfishing has been published in it. Something for all of us white bass hunters to be proud of.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby John Hughes » June 20th, 2019, 9:48 am

My benchmark is 12lbs and I rarely get those LOL :confusion-shrug:

Truly I don't feel any more legit because I've gotten some big fish. I'm pretty clear on the fact that I suck and any seabass at all is a gift.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby Alex Ray » June 20th, 2019, 3:30 pm

John Hughes wrote:I'm pretty clear on the fact that I suck and any seabass at all is a gift.


Initial snarky comment aside, this is what I was alluding to. These fish usually aren't deep and don't require a monster breathhold to get and after a certain point it just comes down to time in the water, so for me a legit seabass diver is someone who foolishly takes his or her speargun for long swims in good vis or bad vis with open ownership of the stupidity in doing so, almost more in it for the process of suffering for seabass than successfully shooting one.

Too often seabass find the diver and not the other way around. I have story after story of this being the case, including one that defies all arguments to the contrary. If one of the fish I had seen was 70+ pounds would shooting it have made me more legit than the two poor souls sniffing each other's finsocks a couple hundred feet away? This is all I was getting at, and I'm not actually offended at not being part of the 70+ club. Truthfully, if I didn't gut/gill/scale all my fish in the water then maybe I already am but I'll never know and don't really care. Seabass have simultaneously enriched and ruined my life regardless.

Also, I agree with everyone else - great photos!
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby John Hughes » June 21st, 2019, 3:37 am

Alex Ray wrote:
. Seabass have simultaneously enriched and ruined my life regardless.



Quote of the year!
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby dam » June 24th, 2019, 9:12 am

John Hughes wrote:
Alex Ray wrote:
. Seabass have simultaneously enriched and ruined my life regardless.



Quote of the year!

:bowrofl:


I don't think anyone is offended, except maybe for Bill. But I think that statement discredits a lot of hardcore wsb divers in the game, not to mention a whole generation of crazy guys before us who were putting in work before and shortly after the gill netting ban. IIRC, this was when shooting a 40lb wsb was a big deal.
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Re: Monsters in the Mist

Postby chris oak » June 24th, 2019, 7:38 pm

Well keep in mind that wasn't mikes statement that was the reporters, I still think it's a big deal that Outdoor Life wanted to do a spearing article, that's more of a benchmark than anything.

As far as fish, I remember when I first started a 30 lb fish was a big deal. Then it went to 50 and 60. As time goes on naturally it's 70's that are benchmark, it doesnt mean that you aren't a seasoned hunter, but I know a lot of new guys who shot fish over 60's on their first fish. Does that make you a seasoned hunter? To me its the guys who put in a shitload of time and figure out patterns in different conditions. Anyone can go to the same spot when the fish are there and plug four. But if you shoot them at islands, reef, kelp, south and north consistently I think that makes you a seasoned seabass hunter. Guys like Balta that go all over and score are pretty amazing.
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