Blue Water Hunting and Freediving - Digital Version 1 - Page 25

hunting the current . Expect to encounter fish swimming straight toward you , down the current .
Banks : Cortez Bank is 100 miles off the California coast and 60 miles away from the nearest island . It is several square miles in area . Both sides of the bank can be productive , depending upon the direction of the current . Hunt the side that faces into the current . This reef structure steps down from 60 to 90 feet and steps again from 90 to 100 feet . Hunt either of these step-offs where bait fish congregate . Continue out into the bluewater until the bait fish just begin to disappear .
Kelp beds : Pacific Coast kelp beds from California to Baja California , Mexico , attract white seabass , yellowtail and bluefin tuna . Generally the deepest part of the bed , facing into the current , offers the best opportunity for game . Stay with bait fish schools .
Feeding fish : Feeding gamefish offer us an excellent opportunity . Birds are the best indicator of feeding tuna . They can be spotted miles away crashing into the feeding frenzy below . Dolphin are often associated with feeding tuna . Dive underneath passing dolphin because they often swim with yellowfin tuna .
Flamingo Bay , Costa Rica , is an excellent location for yellowfin tuna . Tuna sometimes feed only five miles from shore . Locate dolphin and tuna by following the direction that departing sea birds fly in the morning . White speckles in the air , just above the horizon , indicate feeding sea birds . Move close and the tranquil sea appears rippled . Closer still , the rippling sea transforms into a full-blown feeding frenzy . What an incredible sight ! Sea birds dive to attack the bait . Tuna and dolphin are jumping everywhere . The sounds of screeching birds , jumping fish and breathing dolphin amplify the excitement .
There are two special techniques required to fish these schools effectively , I call the “ runand-gun .” First , anticipate the direction the school is moving . It will generally be moving in one direction for a period , however it is not uncommon for it to make radical changes . Even reversals are possible . Position the boat ahead of the school . The fish travel as fast as six knots , making a fast boat imperative .
Second , get into the water quickly . Sprint on the surface , following the boatman who directs you with hand signals . He will indicate the direction the school is swimming . As the first tuna appears , dive to 40 feet and position yourself against the increasing number of tuna as they shoot past . The tuna are pursuing bait fish they have driven up from deep water . It is difficult to prepare for a dive under these conditions . Imagine pursuing the school , then jumping into the water and diving , all within several minutes . It is possible . I used this technique to spear five tuna with five shots . The smallest was 100 pounds and the largest was 256 pounds . I took these fish 40 miles out to sea in 2,000 feet of water .
Carl Butler , a world record holder from the U . S . Virgin Islands , says this technique won ’ t work there . “ When the tuna migrate through , they come layered with other fish ,” he says . “ Bait fish on the top , tuna below , and a whole bunch of sharks below them both !”
Buoys : Buoys are excellent fish attracters . Hawaiian and Virgin Island divers find many of their bluewater fish around offshore buoys . The buoys go through a sort of succession as they become colonized by algae , molluscs and planktonic life . The presence of this food source , combined with a sense of shelter , attracts bait fish , which , in turn , attract pelagic gamefish . Divers use a “ live boat ” technique when the current is impossible to swim against . They drop off up-current and drift through the fishing grounds . They are then picked up when they signal the boatman . This technique has some obvious safety considerations discussed later in the chapter on survival .
Japanese Okinawa commercial fishermen create very effective FADs from palm fronds woven into a 20-foot hollow , vertical , closed basket about 3 feet in diameter . The fronds are woven tightly enough to allow free movement of bait into the protected center . These attract large amounts of bait , dorado , marlin and tuna . Because of the expensive anchoring system , local fishermen form co-ops , and by custom , only members are allowed to fish them .
Flotsam : Flotsam holds fish . Almost anything adrift on the sea will attract fish —
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