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Northern Atlantic: New England States An area for the cold water divers of the New England States.

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Old 06-10-2020, 06:39 PM   #1
Agador
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My worst (not safety related) experience ever

I spearfish in RI for almost 10 years, and Striped Bass was always more like a trophy then just a catch for me. I shot my first bass after two years of trying. I won "First Bass of the year" competition in 2014. I shot dozens of fish with my biggest catch of 39 lbs (last year). I deeply respect ocean life in general and this particular specimen and never wasted the fish. Yes, size limit was challenging in the beginning, and it took me a few wrong shots to learn what 28 inches fish is. My rule was fairly simple - if I doubt about the size, it is not worth a shot.

I started this season late (in mid April) and had 7 dives since. With average dive of 3 hours, that is 21 hours of diving or approx. 6 hours of underwater time. 6 long hours I spent laying on the bottom of the ocean, in the cold spring water, waiting for the bass to come. That is 6 hours of breath holding.
And today I finally meet him! Forty feet deep, on the last seconds of my drop, I saw this big head coming from behind the rock. I knew, I had a split second to make a decision. One second more and it will disappear in the murk and I would never see him again. Pure reflexes. I squeezed the trigger and shaft penetrated the fish instantly. I didn't even see the whole body of the fish, I was kicking up to the surface, but I knew it's a descent size fish - I felt it's weight on a line. I was fighting the fish and only thought was drilling my mind - PLEASE BE A 35 inches!!!

I finally got it to the surface, then put it on a stringer, when I finally exhaled and grabbed the tape measure by my shacking hands. Yes I carry a tape measure with me on my buoy. I measured it and... That was 44 inches bass... He was way over 30 lbs. I couldn't believe it! I re-measured it again, and again - no way I was so much off! To say I was upset, is to say nothing. I was devastated, heart broken, and tearing up. I knew I can't keep it. I knew I must ditch it. Can you imagine what it takes to drop it like that?! It took me 15 minutes to let it go. Now I know, there is a big difference between wasting accidentally shot an undersized fish and ditch a 30# trophy. I feel so bad for killing it, I feel so bad for not being able to put it on a table too. I only believe in hunting for food, not for fun.

When I first read about new slot regulations, I tried not to be worry. C'mon, there are plenty of fish fits in 28-35 slot I thought. It is quite rare to shot bigger one anyway. I knew there will be a moment when I will need to ditch an oversized, but I didn't expect it to be happen on first catch. I was not ready.
After all these hours of waiting, how can I not make that shot?! Now I know, it is extremely hard to eyeball the upper limit of the slot in a fraction of a second being deep under water. It is not impossible, but you need to kill and measure a lot of fish before you get use to it and still there is a good chance for mistake. How many thirty-pounders I need to waste before I get use to the slot limit?!

I hate these regulations! Being a spearfisher, I believe this is a most selective and protective way of fishing, but nobody care about distinguish between R&R and spearfishing. They spent enough time describing the type of the hook, and their amount, and so on, but don't care to adjust regs for spearfishing condition. That is stupid and unfair!

That was the worst diving experience I ever had. I would never want to feel that way again, thus I quit shooting bass. That basically means I quit spearfishing in RI altogether. I cannot explain how bad I feel saying that. I hope these stupid amendment will be revised or maybe they finally adjust rules for spearfishing.

ps: photo of the 39# I shot last summer, just as an illustration.
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Old 06-10-2020, 10:43 PM   #2
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

I feel your pain. I am sorry for your experience. You are not the first nor will you be the last to shoot an undersized/oversized fish. I do not know your situation, or the likelihood of being caught, but if possible it would seem like smuggling it ashore and home to eat would have made it a happier experience for you. But like I said, I do not know your situation. Everybody makes mistakes like this. Stop kicking yourself.
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Old 06-11-2020, 11:42 AM   #3
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

What a waste. You should have kept the fish and taken your chances. You took your chances shooting it, so you should have taken your chances with being held accountable for it, especially if you decide to post on a public forum.
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Old 06-11-2020, 01:19 PM   #4
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

I'm not "taking chances". I like spearfishing because it's a way to relax for me. I don't want to break the law, risk, and ended up stressed out. Ironically, I met DEM officer on the parking lot before the dive and he specifically reminded me about slot limit
I shared here to help others to avoid this situation, hear others opinion and express my criticism (and anger).
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Old 06-13-2020, 08:52 AM   #5
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

Agador,
Don't get so down on yourself. It happens. I would not stop spearfishing in RI, it's a great state to dive in. I usually use the eye and tail to judge fish size. I been thinking about this slot limit and feel that it is what we must deal with. DEM will never adjust regs for spearfishing in our favor. I have thought of taking shoulder or tail shots to be safe, I'll let you know how that goes.
Keep at it, there are plenty of scup to shoot along with seabass after 6/24.
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Old 06-15-2020, 01:54 PM   #6
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

@agador, you did the right thing.

last thing spearfishermen need is to get caught taking fish outside of the slot. that will make things even worse for us.

sharing your story hopefully helps others plan to fish responsibly. you need to have a plan for pulling the trigger and maybe that should include letting a single fish coming out from behind a rock at the end of your breath hold pass no matter the size.

I also see a kid in your picture, lets hope the regs put in place this off season are effective and you guys get to blast some big bass in the future.
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Old 06-15-2020, 05:00 PM   #7
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

Thank you for your support, guys.
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Old 06-24-2020, 03:36 PM   #8
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

Mistakes happen, and IMHO you couldn't have prevented this one. Such a tight slot only makes sense when H&L fishing. No way I would be able to confidently gauge the size before pulling the trigger.

Very sad that the regs ignore spearfishing, being a valid, legal, selective recreational fishing activity.
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Old 06-25-2020, 07:30 PM   #9
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

I feel for you guys...and Slipperyrock is a wise spearfisherman! We had to go through similar dilemmas up north in Quebec when they put the up-down limit to the walleys. But up here when they applied this... they removed the right to spearfish walleyes at once! Make sure you have lobyingin place! Otherwise some other interested people might ensure they have full control over the resources


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Old 06-26-2020, 07:42 AM   #10
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

Actually we had 3-4 seasons with the upper-lower limit. Then they ban the spearfishing of walleyes. That hurts even more! Even if we could demonstrate that we had less than 10% of errors...Which is less than deaths caused by catch and release...


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Old 06-26-2020, 07:49 AM   #11
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

Actually we had 3-4 seasons with the upper-lower limit. Then they ban the spearfishing of walleyes. That hurts even more! Even if we could demonstrate that we had less than 10% of errors...Which is less than deaths caused by catch and release...


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Old Yesterday, 07:49 AM   #12
Kevin Sheets
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

This is going to happen to a lot of spearos, if you can't clearly determine the size and that itself is not easy, then when you pull the trigger its unknown. Everything looks bigger in the water, optical illusion.
I am thinking about cutting some plywood to the size limits and looking at them under water in the rocks etc, to get a feel for what they will look like. I guess until I hit a few, then I cant be sure.
And I can tell you both RnR and spearos will find it very hard to pass on any fish that is of any size. These regulations are complete bullshit and utterly stupid, especially since they don't apply to commercial licensed fisherman.
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Old Yesterday, 07:53 AM   #13
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

I use a vinyl sticker yard stick and tape it to the bottom of my gun. On the first drop I let my gun go to the bottom and watch the ruler as it falls. It helps me judge size better in the water.

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Old Yesterday, 11:31 AM   #14
Gary H
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sly1962 View Post
We had to go through similar dilemmas up north in Quebec when they put the up-down limit to the walleys. But up here when they applied this... they removed the right to spearfish walleyes ...
Similar down here in Florida wrt Red Drum and Snook, both have upper and lower size regulations and spearfishing of both is prohibited.

I think the OP did the right thing. If they start catching spearfishermen (or women) harvesting out of slot fish, they will probably want to prohibit harvesting of slot size regulated species by spearfishing. In my opinion, for what it's worth, you did not "break the law" by shooting the fish. You would have "broken the law" if you harvested it. Harvesting means you took it from the water with intent to take it home.

Here's an example: Great White Sharks are a protected species. If you are spearfishing and one attacks you, you are going to shoot it. If it dies I would not anticipate any fines levied on the spearfisherman (or woman). If you take it home to eat, you're probably gonna have some legal problems!
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Old Yesterday, 07:19 PM   #15
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Re: My worst (not safety related) experience ever

Brutal decision, but you have peace of mind. And then there are dickheads out there like this - a friend just sent me this, no names listed.
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