Sunday, June 12, 2016

Freediving for Abalone and Other Semi-Related Ramblings

"Life is one big road with lots of signs, so when you're riding through the ruts don't you complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't forget about your vision, put your dream to reality. Wake up and live!" - Bob Marley

A lot has happened over the past year. There have been hurdles, obstacles, bumps and ruts, and yet through thick and thin I can say I am walking with a big old grin!
There's nothing like getting out doors on a whim, with friends and loved ones, enjoying nature and all of them, sharing laughter, engaging in adventure; the joy that only trying new things brings.
So my buddies and I got out to the north coast for some freediving a while back and here's the story...and a few other related yarns.

We really didn't take many photos as we were deeply engaged in the underwater hunt. But the memories will not soon be forgotten. We were blessed with exceptional visibility (especially the second day), and Matt and Nick were happy as clams in the chilly northern California waters. Matt had dove once or twice before for Abalone, but this was Nick's first time, and with hard work and big smiles both of these new divers brought in nice catches of abalone and fish for the table.

Eventually, I simply had to kick out of the abalone-rich cove into deeper waters for a little solo connection with the depth, car-sized boulder bottom, and all the strange and amazing sea life that have become familiar old friends through a lifetime of freediving. One of my favorite fish to see on this stretch of coast is not one that I hunt, but a little guy that often perches curiously next to me on the rocky sea urchin encrusted reefs. The painted greenling is small, slender and every bit as beautifully colored as many tropical fish. The only image I took under water on the whole trip was of one such fish at around 40ft.

I was proud of both of my new diver friends as I made it back to shore and saw their score. Each had stepped up and entirely on their own brought in wild food from the depths. Both Nick and Matt were all smiles and I could tell in an instant that two lifelong foragers had been baptized into this tradition in the frigid and phenomenally beautiful waters of this wild northern coast!

After the dive comes the work. Though, as hard as it is to get motivation to clean one's catch after swimming miles in the deep blue, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching these guys a few tricks and tips I had learned over the years for filleting and processing.

The subsequent fish dinners and abalone appetizers have all been well received!

(Thanks for the photo Alex!)
Since that time we've hunted, fished, and gathered to our heart's content. I have been pretty bad with snapping pics, but I will get back on it.

Abalone seeking out largemouth bass on the creek 
My lady friend and I have traveled near and far on just such outings and the sights, sounds, and smells (as well as superb company) alone have been well worth the trips. 

Recently we headed to the coast again, this time simply scouring wash rocks at the low tide for an exceptional limpet calamari...with a few edible seaweed strands in the basket as well...

and of course I forgot to get a photo of the meal as I devoured it so quickly!
So, to reiterate, "Avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness!" - Simon Pegg.
Make sure you make time to get out and live it up. After all, one can always rely on the excuse that tomorrow they will embark, but let's be honest, if we only live once, it is worth living it up right!

Well, my little rant seems to have worked for me...I'm going fishing! Hope to see you out there by flood or by field.

Keep the old ways alive!


  1. Wow, you live in an amazingly abundant place! Thanks for sharing all the flora and fauna you forage; your site is a great resource.

    1. Thank you so much! I really do love California. It is so incredibly diverse in terms of ecosystems and edibles! Thanks for reading!