Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Freediving for California Halibut Fish and Chips

Last year I got out for a dive with some buddies at a local spot. The visibility was decent, the marine life abundant, and we were all having a blast! Towards the end of the dive I found a nice California Halibut buried in the sand behind a wall of emerald sea grass that swayed back and forth with the gentle swell of the sea. His body was so well camouflaged that at first I was not sure if he would be legal size (they have to be a minimum of 22" to take), then I saw the tip of his tail exposed. From nose to tail it was evident he was more than legal, this was a sizable fish!

I lined up and released the spear and at once all that had been calm turned into chaos! A tornado of sand, scales and fins exploded from the bottom and took off into the depths trailing my 12 ft shooting line, speargun, and 40 ft floatline. I soon caught up with the fish and dispatched him with my knife (the most humane way seems pretty brutal when you see it in action, but a knife to the brain is a very quick death). Giving thanks was followed by a long spell of laughing out loud in a largely incoherent mess of obscenities and exhaustion.
That night it was a go to European and American classic, fish and chips! And I was a hungry graduate student no more! My wife and I feasted on that fish for nearly a month.

Remember, just before the freedive is done, look to the shallows for a little bit of fun, for you may find more than a few minnows here, look for their eyes and the whole flat fish may appear! Keep the old ways alive!

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