March 8, 2014 - My long awaited debut / Foreword 2014

Bob Diaz | SpearBlog 2014 | March 24, 2014
hogfish, foreword, Miami, sheepshead
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Wind Seas Viz Temp
NNE 10-15mph 2-3' falling to 1-2' 20-25' 80F


Another year begins without an early opportunity for a foreword... As I get older (and grumpier) it seems like I get to do what I want less and less. That's not to say that what I do (soccer tournaments, band competitions, college days, work - ugh, etc) is less important or even that I would change it if I could (not all the time anyway), but these landlocked activities and responsbilities definitely encroach on the time that I used to be able to take advantage of for my pastimes. Once again it's been way too long since my last dive (not to mention my last blog) and so it's with much anticipation that I began a new dive year and take the opportunity to kickstart this blog year.

I actually hadn't been in the water (for the purposes of diving or spearfishing) since Labor Day (Sept 2013), so I was understandably (at least by me) anxious to jump at an opportunity to get wet. In addition to all the family, kid and work stuff that prevents me from getting in the water there's the added complication that almost everyone I dive with hunts in the winter. So while they're getting their fix through the winter months, I'm left figuratively (and sometimes literally) behind on the dock bravely but unsuccessfully fighting back that lone tear of desparation running down my cheek as I look out over the water that I long to return to, just like the{sigplus /} native american from the littering PSA in the early 70's (yes I'm that old).

After so many months of frustration there was finally a weekend coming up with no random tasks in sight and some reasonably decent weather and I was going to finally take advantage of it. As the week progressed and the weather forecast continued to hold up, I told my wife "I'm going to kill something this weekend, it can be fish or your choice, but I'm killing SOMETHING." She summarily dismissed my diving drama... As Friday approached, I made the calls, surprisingly ending up with only 1 taker. I probably would have gone out alone in 6' seas if that's what I had to do, but luckily I was able to dive smart instead. There were supposed to be NNE 10-15 mph winds with 2-4' seas which isn't optimal when diving from an anchored boat (with only 2 persons there is no driver), but we played the cards we were dealt.

I wake up bright (actually dark) and early and start to load up everything we needed for the inaugural dive of 2014, which is when I ran into my first disappointment. There had been a terrible storm 3 days prior and my previously spotless boat was now stained from stem to stern with the remnants of seed pods from a nearby palm tree that were blown into the boat that night. You may not be like me, but if you are the work that goes into keeping a boat clean is considerable and jumping on my boat to find this was upsetting, so I proceeded to spend the next hour trying to minimize the stains while waiting for my brother in law to arrive.

After what ended up being an hour long exercise in futility (the stains only minimally faded), I pull the boat out and load the remainder of the gear and supplies for the day. It's at this time that hit my second small snag. I remembered I had started working on a small issue I was having with the port throttle sticking and had left both cables for the port motor disconnected. Luckily the timetable wasn't set in stone and it was still just me in the mix so no one was waiting for me to finish while I proceeded to reconnect and check the throttle and shifter cables... So far so good, but was I ever going to get out on the water?

By the time my brother in law arrived, I had just finished closing the cowling on the port motor and pulling the boat into the front yard. By now we were luckily only about 30-45 minutes behind our intended schedule. We finish loading up, checking out and heading out to the local ramp to drop the boat in the water. Luckily the ramp is 5 minutes from my house so we're on the water within 30 minutes and heading out the channel into Biscayne Bay. I breathed a sigh of relief... I actually made it. By this time I was so stoked, I felt like it wouldn't have mattered if we didn't catch anything(that's not totally true but I did feel that way). Hopefully that wouldn't be the case and I would be doubly happy.

So rather than spend too much time scouting, we decided to hit a couple of our old Miami spots that we haven't hit for years. My brother in law starts gearing up and I make make way to MIAHEAD. By the time we get there and the hook is set, my brother in law hits the water. I started gearing up... It's now that I remember why it's nice to have more people on the boat in the winter. With more people to rotate through the helm, more people can be ready when you arrive at the spot. It ends up taking me another 20 minutes to get in the water between camera prep, gear prep and donning that grabby open cell wetsuit. 

Once I'm finally ready, my brother in law says there's a nice black margate sitting in one rock. So I make my inaugural dive with my new Riffe/Cameron Kirkconnell pole spear that I gifted myself for my birthday some 5 months ago. This thing is a beast. When I shot the margate the entire tip (almost 10") and a couple of inches of the pole spear itself passed through the fish. After boating that one, we swam around the area and I chased a few legal muttons but couldn't get close enough to get off a shot with the pole spear. Since I wasn't in the Bahamas and the fish seemed pretty skittish, I switched back to guns for remainder of the day but I'm definitely looking forward to hunting with my new toy.

After a while, with only a few fish in the box, we decided it might be worthwhile to spend a little time scouting to see if we could change our luck. There was probably about 20' of viz which was fine because we were staying pretty shallow. We scouted and stopped at a nearby spot that looked like it might have some promise. Shortly after jumping in my brother in law mentions that he thought it weird that we hadn't seen more lobster (to this point, we had seen none). Within a few minutes of his mention, I found a very large lobster hiding under a rock, so I hoped this would break the ice. It did, but not quite as much as I had hoped. We ended up picking up 3 others  (all by hand because neither of us wanted to swim back to the boat to grab a tickle stick and a net). We also ended up shooting a few decent sized hogfish at this spot, so we decided to add a new Miami waypoint to our list.

To this point, we had pretty much been killing time until the tide came in so we could hit the water and a couple of points we have in Bear Cut channel. So we headed over that general direction and luckily the incoming tide cleaned up the water and we were able to jump in. Although we didn't exactly clean up, we were able to bag a few more nice hogs and a couple of Sheepshead. One of which was the largest I had seen in quite some time. My brother in law had mentioned spotting a very large Sheepshead but he wasn't able to get a shot off on it. Luckily for me, the fish didn't wander off too far and I was able to pick it off when it swam directly in front of my gun after spotting it (I couldn't even extend my arms).

At the end of the day we were able to pick up enough fish and lobster for dinner for both families as well as paying my tidings to my friend's neighbor that was gracious enough to let me moor my boat overnight at is house. All in all, still better than a good day at work (I'd swear I've heard that somewhere before...).