48 Pound White Seabass

About a half an hour before I shot this 48 pound white seabass, I had shot another one of equal size. But I was using a smaller speargun and the spear just bounced right off.

After swimming back to the boat and trading up to a larger gun, I returned to the kelp paddy and began hunting again. It was a flowing tide, which was creating a decent current pushing toward shore, and making it a bit hard to stay in place.

To counter the current I grabbed onto a kelp stringer and allowed the flowing tide to spin me head first into it like a boat after anchoring. But holding the kelp turned me into a human downrigger making it hard to keep my snorkel above the waterline. Despite sucking in several mouthfuls of water and having to blow my snorkel clear making all sorts of noise, my presence still managed to attract a curious fish.

As I lay on the surface of the water fighting the current and trying to remain as still as possible, I scanned the ocean in search of prey. Then as I turned my head to the left, the fish was right there only several feet away beneath several strands of kelp looking at me.

White seabass in habitat. (c) NOAA

Clenching my snorkel with me teeth in excitement, as my heart raced, I slowly brought my speargun, which I held in my right hand, leftward. At about five feet long, maneuvering the gun quickly enough to get off a shot without being too fast and scaring the fish wasn’t easy.

With one hand still holding the kelp, just as the fish began to turn and swim down and away, I fired holding the gun with my other hand. SCHEWP!!! The spear struck at a downward angle behind the pectoral fin and just below the spine.

Upon impact the seabass ran with all it had and the fight was on. I let go of the gun and held the float line, letting the line slip through my hands in small increments as I felt the fish tugging.

The seabass darted around the outside of the kelp paddy in several large circular-shaped swim paths, as I held the float line. It was like flying a fish kite underwater. Sometimes you get lucky and stone them, and they vibrate for a few seconds trying to swim away but go nowhere and then they’re done. Not this one. He ran and wrapped up in the kelp.

Bill Ernst and his California record 93-pound, 4-ounce white seabass shot off Malibu in 2007. (c) NOAA

The fight lasted probably only a few seconds until the fish succumb and sunk, but as with any exciting fast-paced activity time seemed to slow down. I wasn’t sure if the spear was going to hold and remain lodged in the fish.

But despite not penetrating all the way through the fish due to the angle I shot it from, the toggle-headed spearpoint stayed buried in its flesh. I swam back to the boat with the fish in hand just below the waterline cursing with excitement the whole way.

After we had slipped into the water to begin hunting, a another boat sidled up fairly close to where we were and started fishing with rods. It was foolish of me, and definitely not the type of thing I ordinarily do, but I intentionally made a show of lugging the beast of a fish up over the gunwale as I brought it onto the boat.

Usually whenever I catch a fish, whether on a creek, river, lake or in the sea, I do all I can to keep it concealed and not make a show of it or let people see, if I can help it. I don’t care to attract unnecessary attention to my favorite spots. But this time I just couldn’t resist bragging a wee bit.

White seabass caught around Catalina Island circa 1908. (c) NOAA

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5 Responses to 48 Pound White Seabass

  1. Anonymous says:

    Keep laughing!

  2. eric says:

    Wow, how many people does that feed? Awesome catch!

  3. tarpitz says:

    I see mud-duck’s red 22′ anderson in the background………….

  4. Anonymous says:

    RKL? nice face cover….

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