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Old 08-26-2010, 12:04 AM   #1
Namor
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Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

Im going to be traveling to Saipan for a couple of weeks at the end of the year. My buddy who resides there is going to hook me up with a friend of his who is a marine biologist, freediver and spearo. He as offered to show me his secret spots and show me around.

I live in the center of the coast in California and typically dive 3-15 foot vis in the kelp forest. I've dove tropical waters in the past but not as a real spearo although I've polespeared my share of triggers and other reef fish while traveling.

Im not interested in shooting giant grouper, Dogtooth tuna or other extremely powerful fish, more like one fish one meal type of reef dwellers. So I have some questions:

1) the water is warm it seems, I see lots of pics of spearos both with full suits and trunking it. Should I bring my 5 mil Yazbeck freedive suit (maybe just the top) or my 2 mil spring surf suit, or just trunk it ?

2) I do most of my hunting with a 55" Riffe which I think I will leave home for travel convenience. I also have a 32" mid handle Rife Metaltech that I could fit into the luggage. Should I bring this short gun? Or should I just try to make arrangements to rent/borrow a eurogun while there? What size guns do most spearos in the area hunt with?

3) Ive seen video of guys hunting there with floatlines, but most show guys with reels on their guns. I like to use a floatline when I hunt, should I bring a line with me? or should I just make a polyprop line when I get there? Is using a floatline around coral reef a recipe to destroy the line and get tangled in the reef?

4) Are there whales in the area at this time and do they come to predictable areas around the Marianas Islands and Saipan in particular? Ive always wanted to see a whale in the clear water, and Im thinking this might be my chance.

Thanks in advance for your information, and feel free to tell me any other tips or suggestions you might have for visiting Saipan.

Jeremy
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Old 08-26-2010, 01:48 AM   #2
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

Hafa adai!

Saipan has some decent diving on the eastside of the island. Just like every other windward side of an island. Rough seas but has a decent amount of fish. You must be able to dive past 60ft comfortably. Crystal clear waters, boulder field structure and deep drop-offs. A long euro gun is preffered because these fish are educated and fast. 6.5mm shaft, power pand and a reel with 150ft of line is normally the gear of choice. Bringing a tag line with a float is always a safe choice IMO. Aggresive Grey reef sharks and an occasional Tiger shark to look out for. The water temp rarely changes. 85 deg water temp. No need for 5mm suit. 2mm or rash guard. I wear a 3mm cause i'm thin and after 4 hrs I get cold and it's nice to have protection when laying on the bottom or hunting shallow surgy reefs. You can always vent your suit by letting water in. I was just recently visiting the island near Saipan called Tinian. Amazing clear water with nice fish and deep structure. As for whales, on Guam we ran in to a group of sperm whales last weekend. You might get lucky. I'll attach some photos of my trip. I hope this helps.
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Old 08-26-2010, 05:51 AM   #3
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

what he said.
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Old 08-27-2010, 12:12 AM   #4
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

Thanks for sharing the info guys. 60 foot deep dives... Thats pretty deep diving for me. Im always amazed by how much easier it is to go deep when you can see through the water, but that said I may not be much of a fish killer if I need to hunt that far down.

Do you run any weights when you dive without a suit?

Just reading your post I find that I need to bone up on my communication skills, the your greeting in Chamoro (did I even spell it right?) has me baffled.

Thanks again

Jeremy
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Old 08-27-2010, 01:06 AM   #5
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

Don't worry too much about getting down deep. If you work the walls shallow, you'll get lucky here and there on some parrots or jacks. For me without a wetsuit, I don't need any weight at all. Depending on your lung volume and body weight, everyone's different. Your dive buddy should know more. Bring a weightbelt and find weights there if you need to adjust. Ask for a guy named Morito, he owns a spearfishing store in Garapan. The folks are nice and welcoming. Biba I islas Marianas!
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:24 PM   #6
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

Thanks SyR.

We got our tickets and we are super excited about our visit. Today I dove in 61 degree water that had 12' of vis and was happy to have it. I cant wait to get that warm water around me.

Last night as per you instructions we did raise a drink to the Marianas.

Jeremy
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Old 08-30-2010, 05:56 PM   #7
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

You'll definitely be able to shoot dinner at less than 60' deep. I usually walk in from shore from one of the beaches on the western side of the island and come back out with enough for a meal.
The eastern side of the island does get rough during the winter months, but that is where the better fish are. If you get hooked up with a boat it shouldn't be too much of a problem.
The biologist spearo you'll be meeting really knows his stuff and he'll be able to get you in on fish depending on what you're comfortable with.
I'll second what syrespect said about the long euro for Saipan. A lot of guys here use 120s.
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Old 08-30-2010, 10:19 PM   #8
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

Thanks for the input Dmbfan. I might look into trying to rent a eurogun from the Aquasmith shop when I get there; I saw that they rent guns on their web site.

I do have a 55" Riffe that is my main gun, but I think the extra/oversize baggage fee and risk of loss or damage outweigh the benefit of bringing it. I can fit my 32" Riffe metaltech (I used it today to shoot a rockfish and a calico bass) in my bag and might bring that just so I have something to hunt the reef fish with.

Im looking forward to diving the coral reefs and seeing all the warm water fauna. And I'd like to spear some dinner fish, but Im not really out to get the pelagic fishes that most consider game fish. I dont have the gear, dont want the responsibility of borrowing a expensive gun, and dont have the experience fighting bluewater fishes that I probably should to go after them.

Im sure I'll be spending all day in the water and am excited to experience that diving that part of the world holds. Im really interested in ichthyology and marine biology in particular, as well as history including WWII so this trip should be a treat for me. It sounds like you might know the biologist that my buddy is hooking me up with, my bud is Matt and is married to a Norwegian gal, maybe the island is small enough that you know them too.

Thanks again for all of the info you guys have given me, you're building my stoke by the day! Should you guys ever find yourself planning to go to the coast of central California hit me up and I'll pay it back.


Jeremy
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Old 09-07-2010, 09:05 PM   #9
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

I met your buddy Matt a couple of weeks ago at a soccer game. Everyone was calling him Skip tho, so I didn't actually know he was your Saipan connection till he introduced himself as Matt to a friend of mine just last week.
Do you scuba dive? If so there's a few underwater WWII remnants that you can take a look at. I think there's even a Japanese Zero in 30 feet of water that you could free dive if scuba isn't an option.
Definitely take that Metal tech of yours. Even if you do rent a gun it might be nice to have a gun you are familiar with. I don't know anyone around here who shoots a 32" but I'm pretty sure it will shoot far enough to get you dinner.
take care
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Old 09-12-2010, 02:56 AM   #10
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

Cool, its a small world isn't it. I dont SCUBA but could get a cert before the trip if I want to. It seems like more gear to haul around and or rent, so Im ambivalent about it. I probably should do so but I might not...

I'd love to see some war relics while visiting. Im a bit of a history buff and have read a fair number of books about WWII in the pacific theater; I've even had Guy Gabaldon's autobiography on my shelf for years.

Im for sure bringing my little Riffe. I spoke with Jay Riffe this week and he came up with a combo of heavier bands, and smaller, longer shaft, with a Hawaiian flopper that he thought would maximize the guns range. I took it out today and brought home a nice bag of fishes from the kelp beds north of where I live. Its a fun gun to hunt with.

Maybe we can dive when I come to to your island, let me know if your interested, and thanks for your input.

Jeremy
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Old 09-13-2010, 10:51 PM   #11
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

Small world indeed.
I wouldn't worry about the scuba. Saipan is pretty sweet place to dive, but it does cost a bit and you can see quite a bit without.
That's interesting that you mentioned Guy Gabaldon. His son's are still on island. I'm good friends with one of them. You'll probably run into him while you're here.
I'd definitely like to dive when you're here. Skip mentioned letting me know when you're on island so we can try shoot some fish. You can send me a message a few days before you arrive so I can free up some time.
later
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Old 11-22-2010, 11:24 PM   #12
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

Well Im about a month out from my trip, I cant wait. Conditions here in Ca where I live are 58 degree water and 10' vis at a good spot. Im hoping to go to Tinnian as well as Rota islands while visiting Saipan. Im so excited to be heading for that clear warm water...

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Old 11-27-2010, 01:21 AM   #13
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

Take that longer gun Jeremy. You will kick yourself for not bringing it. You are going to find that even uhu (parrotfish) are deceptively quick, and unbelievably tough for their size. Many of the fish have scales on par with a giant sheephead, or even gnarlier. You will not be sorry with some extra penetrating power 10 ft out. And believe me, Siapan will have 60-100ft. vis.....10ft will be the closest you'll get to 95% of all fish. The vis is deceptive, like Hawaii. What you are used to..... it's 180 degree turnaround. When I get back home to Hawaii, I spend the first day shooting about 4 ft. short of the fish I want!! I really have to concentrate and work to get good stalks on reef fish. So different than blues, olives and lings.

In 25-40ft, you will find plenty of fish, just be prepared to take some quick shots; they won't stick around too long waiting for you.
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Old 11-27-2010, 01:51 AM   #14
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

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Originally Posted by rojodiablo View Post
Take that longer gun Jeremy. You will kick yourself for not bringing it. You are going to find that even uhu (parrotfish) are deceptively quick, and unbelievably tough for their size. Many of the fish have scales on par with a giant sheephead, or even gnarlier. You will not be sorry with some extra penetrating power 10 ft out. And believe me, Siapan will have 60-100ft. vis.....10ft will be the closest you'll get to 95% of all fish. The vis is deceptive, like Hawaii. What you are used to..... it's 180 degree turnaround. When I get back home to Hawaii, I spend the first day shooting about 4 ft. short of the fish I want!! I really have to concentrate and work to get good stalks on reef fish. So different than blues, olives and lings.

In 25-40ft, you will find plenty of fish, just be prepared to take some quick shots; they won't stick around too long waiting for you.
Paul, I believe you are right, but the baggage restrictions and fees are going to screw me if I dont take a gun that fits in my bag. Once in Saipan i can rent a 120 euro gun for 15$ per day from Aquasmith if I need to. And then there are the 4 flights that it has to be put on each way (5 on the way back) and survive.

I talked to Jay and julie Riffe, and Jay advised me that I could put a longer, smaller diameter 38" Hawaiian flopper type shaft, along with 2 5/8ths bands (and a stock band 9/16 I think) to up the effective range without "whiping" the shaft upon firing.

I have lots of respect for you, and know good advice when I hear it. Im going to contact the airline and get the exact costs for oversize bags, and check out the confusing dive/fishing gear exemptions referred to in my fine print.

What about float lines? Should I bring my real float line or just grab some polyprop line for the trip. Ive never used a floatline around coral and am not sure how it will be.


Jeremy
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Old 11-28-2010, 12:43 AM   #15
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Re: Saipan and tropical water diving/hunting info sought

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Originally Posted by Namor View Post
Paul, I believe you are right, but the baggage restrictions and fees are going to screw me if I dont take a gun that fits in my bag. Once in Saipan i can rent a 120 euro gun for 15$ per day from Aquasmith if I need to. And then there are the 4 flights that it has to be put on each way (5 on the way back) and survive.

I talked to Jay and julie Riffe, and Jay advised me that I could put a longer, smaller diameter 38" Hawaiian flopper type shaft, along with 2 5/8ths bands (and a stock band 9/16 I think) to up the effective range without "whiping" the shaft upon firing.

I have lots of respect for you, and know good advice when I hear it. Im going to contact the airline and get the exact costs for oversize bags, and check out the confusing dive/fishing gear exemptions referred to in my fine print.

What about float lines? Should I bring my real float line or just grab some polyprop line for the trip. Ive never used a floatline around coral and am not sure how it will be.


Jeremy
If you need a gun bag, I have one I will gladly let you take. I travel with a C4 (65" shaft gun) and a 90cm gun, and usually add a C1 gun into the mix. I almost NEVER use the short gun. The best use for the shorty is hole hunting for Kumu and Mempachi- (red goatfish, and red squirrel fish.) Both are under 2lb. both are super tasty and worth hunting. They should be there in Saipan as well. When I travel with guns, I call them fishing equipment. Sometimes, they make me sign the release, sometimes they do not.
In my gun bag, I carry the guns, 2 shafts each, and my dive fins. It ALWAYS comes in under 50lb. If they try to hit you for oversize...... point out that it is smaller than a surfboard bag. (They do not charge for short board bags, up to 6ft. in length, just to let you know.) I usually don't need to push the issue much, they always have accepted my gear as is with no extra charge for oversize.
As for a trail line; float lines and coral are a bummer. One hard pass thru the reef, and you will rip up the floatline. On the other hand, polypro will hang up on the reef a bit more. Especially in current. If you can keep from beating the float line up too bad, they are a bit better. A reel would be better on all fronts for you. If you need one, let me know.
I would not modify the gun with the longer shaft; you are already used to how it shoots; to change it right before the trip of a lifetime is not a good idea unless you will have time to really learn how it shoots when modified. Not to mention, the longer shaft will not help accuracy, from my personal experience. Call me if you have some questions, or need anything at all. I'd love to see your trip go off without a hitch!!
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