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Old 09-02-2017, 10:53 AM   #1
sandman12
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The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

I have had a couple people ask about the story so I figured I'd post it...

The fish of a lifetime, the one that didn’t get away!

-Pre Dive Day

The week prior to the 52nd annual St. Pete Open Spear Fishing Tournament we received the first weather report and it was sweet! The forecast called for 5-10 knot winds with 2 foot seas. I started the group text with our team, Team Trident, and the planning began. I suggested our dive spot which I thought was in 230’ and would be a good “next dive” to increase our personal deepest dives from 205’ to 230’. When I plotted out our plan I quickly found out that the dive site was actually in 260’ which was a larger jump in depth than we wanted. We went back and forth and decided to withdraw from the 260’ dive plan and head to our 200’ area that would make for a more comfortable dive. At the same time we recognized the need for a faster boat than we normally take since this tournament requires that you weigh in your fish the same day. I called up Brain Londeree from Team Line-x/Fat Bottom Girl Fishing Team. With his 37’ Freeman powered by quad 300 horse power Yamaha’s I knew he’d be our best ride for the tournament. Brian considered the situation and decided he just couldn’t make it happen due to time constraints. At this point we were in a pickle. One of our team mates, Thomas Mitchell, was just diagnosed with sinusitis on Tuesday and was told by the doctor there was no way he could dive this weekend, let alone dive to 260’. Now we don’t have a fast boat and we are down to 3 divers.

I put a message out on Face book that Team Trident was looking for a driver and/or diver capable of depths to 200’. I get a couple messages and calls and we now have the right people and boat for plan B. The next day Brian from Fat Bottom Girl messages me and we finally decide this is going to work, Plan A is back on! Now to find a fourth diver incase Tom can’t go…We line up a fourth diver just in case. Friday morning I call Tom and we discuss his illness and our options, we both agree that the right thing to do is for Tom not to dive but rather to rest and get better. He decides he needs 20 more minutes to make his final decision. 20 minutes later Tom calls and decides he’s in. Here we go! We got our Team, We got the boat, we got the weather, let’s go get the fish.

-Dive Day

The alarm clock goes off at 3am (instead of 2am courtesy of the Fat Bottom Girl, 37’ freeman cruising at 50MPH) and its game day. We meet at the boat and load our gear. 30 tanks, 7 spear guns, and 4 divers worth of SCUBA gear. The boat is loaded and we set our destination in the chart plotter. Next stop, 85 miles offshore. When we arrive at the dive site the seas are calm and the Simrad electronics show that the bottom and water column is alive with activity. I am a definite diver on this site so now we have Tom and Chris Williams who both want to dive it. Our team dives with two divers down and two guys up as surface support. So how do we decide who is going to dive with me, Tom or Chris? Only one way to decide, RO SHAM BO! Chris tells Tom “rock always wins, you know that right?” Tom replies “what ever” and they throw down! Chris follows through with his threat and beats Tom, Rock over scissors.

Time to gear up and dive. Anyone who’s done a technical dive knows how much of a team effort it is and this includes gearing up. So with the help of all of our team members on board we gear up, double check our gear, turn on the GoPro and Paralenze cameras and roll off the sides to start our descent to 260’. We hit about 80’ down and the water column is loaded with Amberjack swimming all around us and even bumping into us, some of these AJ’s were up to 80lbs. We hit 100’ and switch from our travel gas to our bottom gas, after this switch it’s truly “go time”. We descend from 100’ to approximately 230’ when I see a MONSTER fish starring at me, my immediate reaction is “that’s a good size goliath grouper”. As I descend further toward the fish I realize this might not be a goliath. I look over at my dive buddy, Chris, and yell through my regulator “ what the &*%$ is it?! ”. In the back of our heads we both knew what it was but have never seen one under water and certainly not that big! I swam to its left side and looked for the spots that a goliath grouper has. No spots visible. I look at the tail to see if it is rounded like a goliath or square like a warsaw. I see square and begin to realize this is a harvestable fish. I swim back to the head, line up and take a shot hitting him on the left side of his head. Chris, who is on my left side, puts a second shaft just seconds later in the fish’s right side head. After shot number one the fish doesn’t move, I quickly follow up with two more shots within 6” of my first shot and the fish rolls to his right side and falls to the bottom. Chris swims off after he takes his shot and ends up finding the tournament winning first place largest hog fish weighing 18.3lbs. The fish now has 4 total shafts in his head (no power heads were used) and appears to be dead. I cautiously approach the fish with my stringer in hand. I have had Amberjack act dead like this before only to go ballistic as soon as I touch them and take me for a ride. I can’t afford for this fish to go ballistic on me at 260’. I risk him knocking my mask off my face or worse yet, knocking my regulator out of my mouth and dying. We normally string fish through the eyes but I immediately realized that wasn’t going to work. I decide to run it through the gills. As I gently insert the stringer through the gills the fish kicks up, I back off and let him calm down for a few seconds. I re approach the fish and successfully get the stringer through his gills and close the stringer. Time to send the fish up! I attach my Neptonics lift bag to the stringer and fill up the lift bag with my Dive Alert signaling device. The fish rockets to the surface and the surface team reports that it breached the surface like a submarine! The surface team which included Brian Londeree, Shannon Acerman, Mike Jeans, and Tom Mitchell attempt to drag it up in the boat with no success. Back on the bottom our dive is done and we begin our ascent. The whole way up all I could think about was #1 I hope a shark or barracuda didn’t get it and #2 the boat better grab it! As we hang at our last deco stop the sharks decide to come in for a visit. Two sharks circle Chris and I and eventually get to close so I am forced to go on the offensive and ram the shark away with my spear gun. After ramming the shark he takes the hint and finally leaves us alone, disappears into the blue water, and we finish our deco. We hit the surface after 20 minutes of deco and are overwhelmed with excitement!!!

Chris and I gear down, climb aboard and of course continue to celebrate. Now it’s time to get this beast on board. With all six of us on the rope we manage to pull the fish into the splash well between the quad Yamaha engine’s and then onto the transom of the 37’ Freeman. At this point the fish go nuts again and almost rips the trim/tilt wires from one of the engines. We let him settle down and then drag him onto the deck; he is officially in the boat! We decided against getting any immediate pictures with the fish as it has a serious dorsal spine that could kill you and he wasn’t quit dead yet. We drag it to the bow of the freeman, turn it around, and drag it into the massive fish box. The fish was so long that the tail is still hanging out of the massive fish box about 12”. So we dig out some ice, push it down, and shut the lid. The 50 mph ride in was all smiles.
We arrive at the weigh in and recruit 4-5 people to help us drag it up onto the dock. We then drag the fish onto a moving dolly and eventually hang it from the second floor bar of the Magnuson Hotel. The official weight on a certified scale comes in at 409lbs!!! We are currently working to submit this as the largest Warsaw grouper ever taken by spear.

As the story tells this dive and fish of a life time was made possible by a TON of people. No one single person can make this accomplishment by themselves. With that being said I have to give a HUGE thanks and shout out to the following people…

-My wife Michelle Taylor who puts up with me doing nothing but getting ready for these tournaments for a solid week straight, getting up at 3am and diving to 260’. Oh, and she’s 8 months pregnant!

-My Team mates! Chris Williams, Tom Mitchell (Black Wolff Construction), and Mike Jeanes (West Coast Carpet and Tile). We’ve been going at it for 9 years now, chasing big fish and it’s finally happened thanks to Team Trident and Chris with the follow up shot!!

-John Falcone and CJ Hnilica from Aquatic Obsessions for the best fills and gear in the Tampa Bay area.

-Jim Harwood, Dale Rogers, Eric Tobin, and the rest of the Scuba Quest crew for also providing the best fills and gear in the Sarasota/Bradenton area. The two shops above have supported my habit all along.

-Brian Londeree and Shannon Acerman with Team Line-x/Fat Bottom Girl for providing the baddest boat around and a solid surface team.

-Tim Spears and crew with Team Godspeed for helping me prepare this trip and locking in the dive site.

Big thanks to all of our sponsors!

Koah Spear guns – Mobil Boat Fuel – Gulf Auto Clinic – Ultrasound Resources – Kudana Spearguns – Rainbows End Golf Club – Cove Sound Moorings Marina – West Coast Carpet and Tile – Black Wolff Construction – Scuba Quest – Reef Pirate Appareal

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Last edited by sandman12; 09-02-2017 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 09-02-2017, 11:24 AM   #2
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

That's insane, congratulations!

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Old 09-02-2017, 12:07 PM   #3
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

Great job. So where do we see the GoPro video? Got to be some awesome footage.
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Old 09-02-2017, 04:05 PM   #4
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

Not everything went perfectly...I had a go pro which shut off by itself at about 100' and my buddy had a paralenze but the file is corrupt and we can't extract the video. Both cameras would have provided great footage.

Here is some topside video

https://youtu.be/JG_F13-ztUc
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Old 09-02-2017, 05:57 PM   #5
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

Pretty awesome story.

Only problem I see, is that all spearing records that I know of require a single person to spear the fish. At least in freediving, the IUSA only recognizes fish taken by a single diver.

Did you guys realize Warsaw weren't in the tourney? Did you dive any more wrecks/spots after that wreck?

C
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Old 09-02-2017, 08:54 PM   #6
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

How did the big fishy taste? Very coarse meat I presume? A couple hundred pounds of meat? I've never had the pleasure of processing some fish that large. Just curious. I've processed gators that rival that size and believe me you, it takes a LONG time...if'n you do it correctly and waste not, want not. Those grouper cheeks must've been a pound a piece at least.
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Old 09-02-2017, 09:21 PM   #7
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

That's too bad but have had GoPro malfunctions too. At least you got the fish so it's not a fish story with no fish and no video. Congrats again

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman12 View Post
Not everything went perfectly...I had a go pro which shut off by itself at about 100' and my buddy had a paralenze but the file is corrupt and we can't extract the video. Both cameras would have provided great footage.

Here is some topside video

https://youtu.be/JG_F13-ztUc
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Old 09-03-2017, 11:03 AM   #8
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

Quote:
Originally Posted by cldomson1 View Post
Pretty awesome story.

Only problem I see, is that all spearing records that I know of require a single person to spear the fish. At least in freediving, the IUSA only recognizes fish taken by a single diver.

Did you guys realize Warsaw weren't in the tourney? Did you dive any more wrecks/spots after that wreck?

C
There isn't even an agency that keeps records of fish speared on SCUBA so that's our biggest issue. I am going to contact Guinness to see if they will take it as a record.

I did know warsaws weren't in the tourney but who's going to give up the chance to take a fish like this? I ended up in 28th overall place (out of 320) for my 14lb hog fish . I did 2 more dives at 180 - 190 after this dive
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Old 09-03-2017, 05:45 PM   #9
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman12 View Post
There isn't even an agency that keeps records of fish speared on SCUBA so that's our biggest issue. I am going to contact Guinness to see if they will take it as a record.

I did know warsaws weren't in the tourney but who's going to give up the chance to take a fish like this? I ended up in 28th overall place (out of 320) for my 14lb hog fish . I did 2 more dives at 180 - 190 after this dive
Guinness record: Largest Warsaw grouper taken while Spearfishing on scuba by a team of two Spearfisherman. ???

I'm not sure Guinness keeps such records. And the biggest caught H&L is 436lb. So it's not the biggest ever landed.

Maybe you can get a trophy for the heaviest fish weighed in at the SPO that didn't win a prize??
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Old 09-03-2017, 08:22 PM   #10
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

That's definitely the fish of a lifetime. Congrats man. I hope to be able to land a deep trophy like that one day.

I can't blame you guys for the double tap. I recall Dan powerheading his 403 pounder for fear it would take off after the first free shaft.

Awesome fish man. Congrats again!!!
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Old 09-03-2017, 08:51 PM   #11
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

Holly Cow!
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Old 09-03-2017, 08:53 PM   #12
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

Awesome
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Old 09-04-2017, 12:23 PM   #13
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

Great story, nice to chat with u at the after tourney pool
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Old 09-06-2017, 01:20 AM   #14
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

That fish is a record in anybody's book. Congratulations!
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Old 09-06-2017, 09:17 AM   #15
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Re: The fish of a lifetime, the one that DIDN'T get away! - 409lb Warsaw

That is a monster fish, congrats!
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