After working a full week in Northern California, I headed my truck South and by Saturday morning I found myself 60 miles offshore from San Diego, sitting on the back of my good buddy Matt Lopez’s boat the Mojito suited up with a giant speargun in my hand!
Matt and Wyatt were driving the boat and looking for schools of tuna, and Jay and I were geared up waiting for the word of when to jump in and dive…
All of a sudden Matt kills the engines and yells “GO, GO, GO!”
I jump in, take one last breath and dive down into the bright blue water…
I kick down to 40 feet, level out and look up and see a school of Bluefin Tuna swimming by!!!
Take aim with the massive gun, pull the trigger…and my heart breaks when I see the shaft sail over the back of the tuna!
Come up and get back on the boat and apologize to everyone for blowing the shot…
7+ hours go by with countless dives on schools of fish that would disappear before we could see them…
Was getting exhausted physically and mentally as the hours went by and thinking I had blown my one shot at one of these beautiful fish….
Matt kills the engines again, and yells to me to GO and kick to my right where a flock of birds was crashing…
I jump in and kick as hard and fast as I can, scanning the waters for any sign of fish…
All of a sudden I see a flash, and another….could it be?!?!
I take a quick breath and drop and all of a sudden the water beneath me is FULL of tuna…it was if the ocean floor had been replaced by fish!!
I drop down some more until I feel like I am in range for a shot…
Pick one out and take aim but it is moving fast and I remember what Matt had told me about not trying to track one of these fish with the gun…
I stop and keep my gun aimed at one spot and another fish glides in, and as soon as it’s head is in front of my gun I pull the trigger…
In slow motion I see the shaft fly through the water and hit the fish…in the tail!!!
I see the fish veer off and head down followed by the breakaway floatline, and I kick back up to the surface with the gun and can see the float is vertical and bobbing up and down!!
I yell out to Matt and Wyatt that I shot one and tell them it is a tail shot and I am not sure how solid the shot was!!
Wyatt suits up to get in and help me, and I clip the gun off to the second float and start slowly pulling the floatline up through the tuna clip on the float…
I can feel the fish fighting down below and I am terrified that it will pull off and get away!!
I try and go as smooth and steady as I can and after what seems like forever the fish comes into view about 50/60 feet below…
Jay and Wyatt drop down and both see that the shot is actually super solid and the slip tip is toggled in the tail…Wyatt puts a shot through the head just to be sure and comes up and tells me the fish is secure.
I work it up as close to the surface as I can, make sure that I am free from floatlines and cable and swim down and grab the fish by the tail, wrap my legs around it and get my hand in it’s gills.
I pull some gills, cut the membrane, and stab it in the head and enjoy the moment while the blood pumps out and surrounds us in a bright red cloud.
After swimming the fish back to the boat, Wyatt cuts the heart out and I eat it (super tasty!) and we get all the guts and gills out.
Spend another couple of hours trying to get Jay on a fish, but we couldn’t make it happen and once it is dark we start heading back in.
By now the fish had cooled down (at first it was HOT to the touch!!) and we get in the kill bag full of ice.
Fish weighed 52.1 pounds bled, gilled and gutted….my previous biggest speared fish was a 31 pound Striper.
Don’t make it back to Matt’s house until 3am and I am BEAT.
Crash out and drive back to Watsonville in the AM after saying my good byes to Matt and his wife Suzie and their awesome daughters, and packing the fish on ice my Orion 85.
The Orion worked great and the meat quality was AMAZING even after driving all the way home.
My good friend Amadeo (www.abachar.com) comes over the next day and helps me fillet it up correctly, and Amadeo and my buddy Bryan and I scrape every bit off the carcass to make sure none is wasted.
After the fish was processed on Monday the feasting and sharing commenced, my daughters got super into making sushi rolls, and by Friday we had fed over 30 people from the one fish and it was all gone. : )
Incredibly grateful to Matt for giving me this opportunity, working so hard to make it happen, and to Jay and Wyatt for putting up with me all day.
Here is a video of the amazing experience:
~ Jim Russell