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Old 07-09-2010, 02:53 PM   #1
Mike Morgan
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A seabass story...

Some people may have read this already. So if you've already sat through this you can complain later.


Patience When Seabass Hunting -


As divers...or shall I say - WSB hunters we can spend many days diving the kelp with out so much as a glimpse of what we are after. We may hear that beautiful croaking that perks our senses trying to figure out just what direction its coming from. You can swim up current, down current, dive the slack tide, high tide, whatever tide. Just when you think you may be doing something right they go and flip the script on you. In my opinion no other name has been more fitting for a fish then what we sometimes refer to seabass as ghosts.

I cant say how many times or dives I've gone without so much as seeing a fish and when that moment finally comes you take it. Rightfully so. How many times have you "blown" a fish just to keep replaying that moment over and over again in your head? Then again, I think that's one of those things that makes diving so great. The desire to learn from your mistakes...reanalyze, re-equip, reformat and try it again. Always learning from what worked and what didn't.


Well one thing that I've set out to change about my diving this year is to "TRY" not to shoot the first fish I see. I've seen a good amount of videos where a seabass swims into frame and you think "shoot it!" But often a few seconds later more fish follow in its path. Sometimes bigger; sometimes smaller, maybe more often nothing at all. Usually having that restraint is a lot easier said then done. Especially when we get in that desperate mind set of shoot the first thing that swims by. I've had a few dives this season where I have been rewarded for my patience...

So sometime in June I headed out with a friend for a pretty standard WSB hunt. We had a pretty good idea of where some decent fish were. Nothing huge, but great respectable fish in the 20-30lb range and now that the limit was 3 fish, we could afford to tag the first thing that swims our way and then get a bit pickier if we wanted to. Well of course my friend hops in the water first and not 5 minutes pass and he has a fish on. Around the 35~lb mark. Well great they are here! I'm in the water in record time and beginning my rounds through the kelp bed. Maybe 30 minutes into my dive I see a single come swimming underneath me. The viz was great, but a bit hazy in this particular kelp room and a little tough to determine just how big it was...but I call it 25lbs. Pop! One fish on the stringer, but it was more like a sea trout then a seabass at maybe 15lbs. Ohh well we expected the little guys to be here and now the bar is set at around 30lbs so its time to look for something bigger.

In my experience or more the experiences of others past down to me. If you are seeing small fish, chances are you aren't going to be seeing big fish. Not sure how this relates to other species, but this seems to be the consensus from most guys relating to white seabass.

So back to the dive and maybe another 40 minutes or so in the water my friend puts his second fish on the boat! Now the pressures on. It was a beautiful dive 15-30' of viz; temps where in the 63-65 range with lots of life about. I'm just enjoying being in the water when I have another smaller model come moseying along underneath me. I'm tracking it from the surface and just watching its behavior in this clearing of a few stringers and some higher spots on the reef when the fish seems to sense my presence and change direction and bug out. It would have been an easy shot from the surface, so initially I let it go as I knew it wasn't near that 30lb mark, but after a quick deliberation I decided to go back down for it. I dropped to about 28' feet and use this high spot with kelp to mask my approach. As I try to sneak around the pinnacle thinking it will be somewhere around the corner, I reach the area and nothing. I'm basically now at one of those "kelp fork in the roads" Do I go left or right? I'm hanging there for a few seconds debating on which direction seems more promising when I get that sense and look to the left.

This is the moment I live for when diving. It happens so sudden, probably all of about 5 seconds but feels like an eternity. Everything around me goes quite and slows down. I can feel my heart beating, but it feels like I don't need to ever breathe again, everything is focused at this moment. I watch as the biggest seabass I have ever seen goes swimming by behind a few kelp stalks a mere 10-15' away from me. My brain is processing the fact that this is a beast. A true trophy fish, the moment is NOW and the signals are sent to pull the trigger. In another split second almost too fast to witness my shaft leaves the gun, hits the fish perfectly behind the gills and the fish is off with a thunderous explosion into the kelp room. Time for the ride! I know its a solid shot and immediately put pressure on my reel line, but this fish is big and means business and has no problem pulling me an easy 25-30' underwater. I know its main objective and that is to run up current into the deepest water it can find. That's its last act of defense against whats going on. I surface and take some much needed breaths of air and begin breathing up so I can secure the fish. I don't like letting fish run if you don't need to and I always like to recover my fish as fast as safely possible. I always make sure to breath up adequately, but I feel the longer you wait the better the chance the fish has to tear off or some other animal has to capitalize on your catch. I give it a good 3 minutes on the surface which feels like 10. Usually I will try to close my eyes and relax that way, but its hard when the viz is this good and I can almost see it on the bottom at 40'. Its time to get the fish. I spit my snorkel and begin climbing down my line finally reaching the fish. Wow is it big! It really wasn't tied up that bad so I was able to just get my hand in and cut its gills, bleed it and pull it up. I left enough slack on the reel line that it would allow me to pull the fish up. I get to the surface and do my standard test measuring the fish against my leg and it sure is bigger. I'm barely able to get it over the rail of the boat with one hand. Finally on the boat this fish makes the 35lber look like a schoolie and I'm pretty sure at the time its my new personal best wsb. Its just so long and skinny I'm not quite sure. Time for a cold beer and I just sit there on my new boat thinking. Wow! First blood on the boat and a new personal best...does life get better than this? Well of course it does, but right now is pretty damn good from where I am sitting. The suns setting and my friend swims back with his third and final fish to complete his first 3 fish seabass limit and share in the marvel of these beautiful fish we landed this evening.

Well the nights not complete without an anchor retrieval at 55' but I take the honors and in no time we're all set for the ride home in smooth flat seas. We get back to the dock and the fish weighs in at 62-64lbs on a 50lb Berkeley scale and measured just over 60" being my biggest seabass to date and something I am very proud of. The next day when I filleted the fish, its stomach was completely empty and egg pouches were empty. So not only do I know this fish would have weighed much more had it been fat, but at least it was able to complete one last breeding cycle for the ocean before providing food for me.

Mike Morgan



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Old 07-09-2010, 03:14 PM   #2
78sharpshooter
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Re: A seabass story...

Nice freakin fish!!!!! Is that a 3/8" shaft?
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Old 07-09-2010, 03:41 PM   #3
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Re: A seabass story...

Awesome story. I think the length is even more impressive than the weight- that is really a huge fish. I admire your passion for seabass hunting, but you are most definitely a prick.
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Old 07-09-2010, 03:46 PM   #4
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Re: A seabass story...

Keep it up cause you have huge potential in this sport my friend. Great write up and an excellent shot.
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Old 07-09-2010, 03:50 PM   #5
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Re: A seabass story...

Great write up. It felt as if I was there watching you kill that fish!

Good job.
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Old 07-09-2010, 03:59 PM   #6
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Re: A seabass story...

Nice Fish Congrats!!!

This is a nice Steve Redding Fish!!!!
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Old 07-09-2010, 04:07 PM   #7
John Hughes
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Re: A seabass story...

It's later, so I'll complain that I already read it

Prick
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Old 07-09-2010, 04:09 PM   #8
Nate Baker
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Re: A seabass story...

You're an assh***e.

Great story, and good write up. I felt like I was watching it happen.

Quote:
This is the moment I live for when diving. It happens so sudden, probably all of about 5 seconds but feels like an eternity. Everything around me goes quite and slows down. I can feel my heart beating, but it feels like I don't need to ever breathe again, everything is focused at this moment. I watch as the biggest seabass I have ever seen goes swimming by behind a few kelp stalks a mere 10-15' away from me. My brain is processing the fact that this is a beast. A true trophy fish, the moment is NOW and the signals are sent to pull the trigger.
This is why we dive. Those precious few seconds of increasing tension between sighting the fish and pulling the trigger.

Congratulations.
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Old 07-09-2010, 04:12 PM   #9
steepNdeep
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Re: A seabass story...

Right on!! Great story & fish, eh.
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Old 07-09-2010, 05:31 PM   #10
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Re: A seabass story...

nice boat and fish....looks like a long seabass....Dam said the only reason you were able to land it was b/c it was previously injured....haha
Still waitin for my 60lber
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Old 07-09-2010, 05:37 PM   #11
Bmorgan
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Re: A seabass story...

Beauty!
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:45 PM   #12
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Re: A seabass story...

That's a nice fish. Probably 70 pounds 3 months ago. Congrats.
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:19 AM   #13
Tino Bernazzani
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Re: A seabass story...

Very nice fish and excellent write up.
Thanks for sharing,
Congrats.
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Old 07-10-2010, 12:41 PM   #14
Adam Sachs
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Re: A seabass story...

Excellent writeup. As others have said, I felt like I was there. Thanks for the good read and congrats on the fish.
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Old 07-10-2010, 03:57 PM   #15
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Re: A seabass story...

Very well said. Congrats Mike.
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