End to a Great Bug Season

West Coast represent! Remember be vague on spots!

End to a Great Bug Season

Postby chris oak » March 16th, 2020, 7:54 pm

It was a little sad. I pulled my wetsuit off my drying rack, and gathered my fins and lights. The fins are the specific ones I use for bug diving, they are plastic and I can run out of the water when I'm getting pounded by the reef. I pulled the batteries out of my Dark Waters V11 rechargable light and folded my Mutiny lobster bag and carefully put them away. That's a wrap.

I'm sad but it was a great ending to a great but season for me. Last season was almost a bust, I only went out a handful of times and probably ended up with less than 50 bugs. The storms raged hard and work kept me out of the water most of the time. This year was different, there was some kelp to be found and bugs like that. But the storms were pretty much gone, the visibility has been pretty decent except for a couple of times. And thus the bugs returned to my old haunts.

There is about three days of bug season left but the vis has been pretty good at Oaks reef lately. I actually went out last week after work before the time changed. I had a brand new mori bag to try out, they are similar to the Mutiny one with a quick release but the bag material is different, a little softer and also expands a lot. I was very impressed, and Mori was telling me about how he likes to cut his quick release shorter.

I should have listened better because I didn't cut that extra off. I dove with it only one time before and this time I put on all my gear and headed to the reef, it was along climb down the billy goat trails. The swell was only 2 feet so I was confident I'd have no problem entering. I pulled my beater fins on and then slid off the rock and started kicking furiously to beat the swell. I got pounded a bit on one rock and slid by it and made it outside. The vis was fantastic, probably 25 or more feet and that's great for this spot. I made one dive and saw a nice bug under a rock and surfaced. I noticed in horror my bag was gone. Gone! I knew immediately what happened, either it fell off on the trail or more likely I sat on the extra length of release or it hung up on that reef on the way out and released itself. I quickly swam by the rocks that might have grabbed it, then did a thorough search in the surf zone. Nada. I thought maybe it was on the trail so I exited, climbed all the way back up and didn't see it. Then I climbed down again and did another surf entry. I looked everywhere it could have been for a half hour or so and then dejectedly exited again and made another climb back up the hill. I was pretty disgusted with myself and went home early.

It took more than a full week to forgive myself but eventually my ass got tired of getting kicked so I checked swell and picked out a nice night. The corona virus had just forced closure of my kids school and we were kinda on lockdown so I asked my wife to watch him and made the hour trip to the sea. As I climbed down the trail I ran into a couple and the guy said vis looked excellent and he had wished he brought his gear. I threw my fins on and then made a easy entry, swell was one foot and short period but soon I was out in the best dive of the year.

Vis was over 30 feet, it was calm and not too cold. There were lots of short bugs out but I didn't see any legals so I started looking under rocks. I stumbled into the zone and pulled two legals. I stuffed them into my mutiny bag and kept looking. Finally about an hour later I found the zone and wrested out a fat bug from under a rock. That bug was a son of a bitch and I had to lay sideways and cram into the crevice. I got to the surface and.... FUUGGGGG MY BAG WAS GONE.

Unbelievable but this second bag had also caught the quick release when I was under the reef and flipped open. I thought about stuffing the bug in my wetsuit and going home but I started looking and ten minutes later I found it, sans my other two bugs :(. The bag was under the ledge where I got the bigger bug, I had to take my gloves off and cinch that bag tight on my waist and then deposited the bug and had to start over. I'm definitely going back to woody or moris clip version next year lol.

I was over an hour into the dive now and only one bug to show for it. I started working the reef and slowly bagged a few nice ones. I was up to five and then I saw a fat 4 lber deep in the cave. I grabbed his antennae and quickly dropped my light to grab his other antennae but my damn gopro hit the reef and tore my mask off. It immediately flooded, I changed position of the grip to what I thought was its abdomen and then felt nothing. Out of air I kicked blindly towards the surface and hoped the kelp wasn't wrapping me up. I knew I was only in twenty or so feet of water but it seemed forever before I could gasp air and see again. That flipping gopro always does that and that's why I rarely wear it for bugs but I wanted some footage for a movie I'm working on. I flipped the damn screen downward so it couldn't do that again and looked in the hole but the bug was long gone except for a couple of legs and an antennae.

I got two more and headed in, as I went back I practiced my under rock grab and measured and released another legal. I can tell that I've improved dramatically from the old days when I would dive two hours and only return with two bugs. My grab is quicker, my thoughts faster and my search image is much better than a lot of my buddies. I once worked with a girl on the desert tortoise project who could spot tortoises in our moving jeep a hundred or more yards out, even when we stopped I'd never see it. It's the search image, once you do it a lot it makes recognizing bugs much easier. I wish I was better at seabass finding that's for sure.

When I got to shore I measured out all my bugs, they were all a half inch or more over legal. I was pretty stoked, scratching a limit this late in the season in an area that is heavily dove and trapped is a good day. Plus with the corona virus around now at least I'll have some lobster soup or lobster fried rice if we run low. No one else was diving this area and I drove home in high spirits, I needed that time off after the stress of knowing life is going to change for a few months.

Be safe guys and take care of your family.

It was a great end to a great season. Time to focus on white seabass...

Some pix of this years hauls, all shore dives from one of several Oaks Reefs...
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chris oak
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Re: End to a Great Bug Season

Postby dam » March 17th, 2020, 11:29 am

Dude, why didn't you tell me about the first time you lost your bag? That would've made my week! Thanks for the lesson, though. I'll cut the strap on mine. Nice job on the last dive!
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Re: End to a Great Bug Season

Postby John Hughes » March 17th, 2020, 7:53 pm

I never thought about that quick release getting caught like that and releasing unintentionally. Thanks for the heads up.

I headed out the other night with my faithful NHT bag which I love. It's got about 20 zip ties in it from holes I've closed but it keeps chugging along. I just don't feel right with the bag material those guys use being indestructable. I'm too afraid I'll get hung up and not be able to release. Anyways, I managed a kook limit in around an hour and I had finally found the good ones out in deeper water around 25'. I stuffed my 6th bug in there and the bungee on the front opening busted. I think I've had that bag at least 10 years. Fortunately I felt it go and was able to swoop my hand in there and keep it closed before I lost any bugs. I swam in shallow and tried to fix it but it just wasn't going to happen. Swam back with my bag in my hand and stoked on 6 feeling like my kook limit was appropriate.

Fixedthe bungee on my bag today and put it away ready for more zip ties next season.
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Re: End to a Great Bug Season

Postby chris oak » March 17th, 2020, 8:21 pm

John you can fix those bags pretty easily, I use net twine that I got from marine hardware in pedro, it comes in like a two pound spool. You can use any thicker nylon string though. I make all the nets for work including the stainless rings so I'm always repairing them. You can zip tie them but it doesn't hold too well and ends up closing up sometimes. You can fix them like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8gQ8MR-bb0

you have to fast forward to where the dude cuts out the netting and stitches it.
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Re: End to a Great Bug Season

Postby John Hughes » March 18th, 2020, 5:22 am

Thanks Chris. The zip ties work fine and since I live in Pedro, the ghetto fix helps me fit in. :)
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Re: End to a Great Bug Season

Postby dam » March 18th, 2020, 2:28 pm

John Hughes wrote:I never thought about that quick release getting caught like that and releasing unintentionally. Thanks for the heads up.

I headed out the other night with my faithful NHT bag which I love. It's got about 20 zip ties in it from holes I've closed but it keeps chugging along. I just don't feel right with the bag material those guys use being indestructable. I'm too afraid I'll get hung up and not be able to release. Anyways, I managed a kook limit in around an hour and I had finally found the good ones out in deeper water around 25'. I stuffed my 6th bug in there and the bungee on the front opening busted. I think I've had that bag at least 10 years. Fortunately I felt it go and was able to swoop my hand in there and keep it closed before I lost any bugs. I swam in shallow and tried to fix it but it just wasn't going to happen. Swam back with my bag in my hand and stoked on 6 feeling like my kook limit was appropriate.

Fixedthe bungee on my bag today and put it away ready for more zip ties next season.

Heh, it's only fitting that you get to carry the kook title for another year. :D
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Re: End to a Great Bug Season

Postby Washington1 » March 19th, 2020, 10:17 am

John Hughes wrote:Thanks Chris. The zip ties work fine and since I live in Pedro, the ghetto fix helps me fit in. :)


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