We go with the original interview format I intended back when I released Episode 000.
THE SPEAR will be a Weekly Show
I’m going all in. I plan to put out an episode of THE SPEAR once a week. So from this day forth look for new episodes on THURSDAYS.
Interview with Ryan Sweeney Including Spearfishing Cortez Banks with Terry Maas
- How he got into spearfishing
- What roadblocks he hit and how he overcame them
- Launching your Kayak in the surf
- Dealing with Sea Sickness
- Key factors to becoming a better spearfisher
- Choosing the right Spearfishing gear
- Breaking in to the spearfishing community
- White Sea Bass Hunting Tips
- Talks about how he met Terry Maas their epic trip to go Spearfishing Cortez Banks last year
- Spearfishing Tuna
- Spearfishing Cortez Banks again on The Sand Dollar
- Hammerhead Shark encounter
- Spearfishing Tips for new guys
- Rocks, Rips, and Reefs 3Rs
- and more
Episode 003 Transcription
Hey this is Roman Castro from spearoblog.com and this is the spear episode 3 now check out my intro music.
This is the spear the podcast where you can get your spearfishing fixed even though you’re stuck on land, coming at you from our home studio and sunny San Diego California, thanks for listening and welcome to the tribe.
Alright, so today’s episode is an interview this is the original format I wanted when I first set up the spear. I have done now I think four interviews, this is the first of four I had a couple more scheduled and we come to do interviews and I really enjoyed them I think I’m learning a lot and been able to share this conversation with you guys is very valuable to you. Besides interviewing all this great people I’m really enjoying the process of learning how to interview somebody and just getting used to how my voice sounds like on my headset. It’s a big learning here so bare with me and I’ll try to improve every episode also I wanted to announce that I’m just gonna go for it and make the spear a weekly podcast so I’ll be playing new episode every Thursday going forward. Right now I’m thinking mostly of the interviews but I might throw in like an audio blog that goes here and there to spice things up.
RC: Hey guys today we have Ryan Sweeney he has 14 years of experience in motorsports industry. Ryan is an entrepreneur who is combining his passions for product design and adventure sport into his new endeavour called bricksadventure.com you can see it at brickadventure without an s. Ryan was also the president of San Diego freedivers for 2014 he served on the board since 2011. You might recognized Ryan from his other products he started pdp which is precision dive products and came out of one of the first backpack specifically designed for spearfishing which called the spearo backpack. Alright, Hello Ryan and welcome to the spear, how’s it going?
R: Thanks for having me it’s a pleasure to be here.
RC: Awesome, awesome so I wanna thank you for coming to the show and we go right into our first question and feel free to elaborate as much as you want where did you start spearfishing
R: Let’s see I got bit by a bug somewhere around 2006 I was camping and Catalina Islands I am with a group of friends and neighboring camper took a walk down to the water I didn’t really take much close attention at first until he came out of the water about an hour, an hour and half later with a big fish ..over her shoulder and bringing a speargun up the hill. My job pretty much hit the floor and I just pointed and said that I wanna be that guy and fast forward, I guess here we are.
RC: That’s awesome, that’s awesome dude. So do you know what kind of fish that was?
R: If I had to guess it was a yellowtail or white seabass you know 20 plus pounds.
RC: At that point what did you do? Like when you decided hey I wanna be that guy, what did you do..
R: I take a look at my history and I grew up on a lake in New Jersey and use to do a lot of lake fishing and freshwater fishing and I guess snorkeling around to collect all the .. I would loose down the lake. So after looking at that for a minute I started to research what goes into ocean fishing in the Pacific here and in Southern California and bought a kayak and started hooking a live fishing a little bit while doing a lot of research and snorkeling around and basically realized I have an off a lot to learn.
R: got humbled by mother ocean and tried a few times take a kayak out as I learn that I do get quite sea sick and had a couple of years of floating around trying to figure out how to conquer sea sickness and learn what it takes to actually get fish to come anywhere near you.
RC: Cool, let’s go back a little bit. How did you overcome that getting back in with the kayak, a lot of people had problem where it’s like the last part of the dive, they come in and maybe the surfs not cooperating.
RC: What you recommend
R: Practice, get comfortable in your vessel, get comfortable with your gear no matter what you
are doing, if you’re comfortable you are not gonna be more confident and that leads to more fun and safe outings..
RC: So what you say take a day and leave your gear at home being in a kayak out, get used to surfing…
R: That’s certainly a good idea if you like to keep your gear if you’re gonna tie it down to the ocean and listen to everyone around you who says make sure you tie down everything inside of a kayak then you’d be fine too.
RC: SO practice coming in without gear and then when you do have your gear with you make sure you tie it down
RC:awesome and sea sickness did you just get over it eventually or did you take meds?
R: No I’ve tried everything under the sun, everything down to diet related adjustments that starts to the four days before going diving, down to I finally found the prescription medication scope and once I got a prescription for that all of my problems evaporated, life has been grand ever since.
RC: Cool, alright that’s a great advice
R: Yes just go to your doctor and get that prescription, don’t deal with it
RC: Do you take it every time?
R: Everytime and if I don’t I’m typically not that great of an outing but I’ll go anyway
RC: Perfect, perfect that’s the spirit. So you figured out how to get back to the beach briefly on your kayak and you sort it out yours seasickness issue, what was your next breakthrough?
R: One of the most powerful things I think I did was reach out to the local community, spearfishing is full of great people. In Southern California we were lucky enough to have quite a wide variety of different types of clubs and I reached out to the San Diego freedivers and started attending meetings and just getting a feel for what the local group was all about and found a very welcoming home.
RC: Nice how did you find San Diego Freedivers?
R: I believe I was probably meet them on spearboard.com or possibly just google searching around for information and they’ve been around a long time, they have a great reputation so I just seem like logical fit.
RC: Sweet, so you joined San Diego freedivers and started attending to meetings, how did that go?
R: The meetings where really great, there’s a wide variety of information that would get covered at each monthly meetings and it was a great place to meet people to dive with them kinda learn the ropes that was certainly you know key factor for anyone’s advancement in the sport as I think just shadowing to some of the more experienced folks out there and learning the dangers and getting comfortable in the water and learning all the variables that go into targeting whatever species it is that you’re on a hunt for.
RC: Cool, so how did you decide on your gear like what was your first gun, your first set of fins
R: First gun was a combination of lack of funds to really afford..
RC: Yeah cause you were starting out..
R: I was skimp, I was starting out in relation to advice from different forums and different clubs about what type of gun is appropriate for area or different situations that we encounter, different species we’re targeting, that lead me to, my first gun was actually purchased from the president of the Long Beach Neptunes and it was a hundred centimeter pecaso with a flapper shaft and a reel.
RC: Nice speargun ha..
R: It was a great first key, still to this day.. I think I finally sold it a year ago , maybe..
RC: Wow, mine was a JBL Special I bought from Justin at a gear swap..
R: Oh wow, those gear swaps are amazing
RC: Okay so let’s talk a little bit more about how you chose what gear, I know some of them has to do with the price but what other factors did you take into consideration when you were choosing a hear..
R: Alright, let’s see that’s a good question you know a product designer with a focus on sports that I love, adventure, action sports.
RC: I’m sure the stuff you can improve..
R: Yeah I certainly, first and foremost learning the ropes and I had some, I had found some really great mentor within the San Diego freedivers that helped me get more comfortable in the water and learn how to understand why certain gear is more appropriate for certain species.
RC: Can I stop you for a sec there? Let’s go a little bit into how you’ve got a mentor, because I know some people that are more experienced spearfishermen they have like a reservation about becoming someone’s mentor because the things it’s like a full time job, right?
R: Yeah well all of my mentors I would say are a little less than a, a real formal relationship
R: and the reality is I had an interest, in spearfishing I didn’t have any friends that did it so I threw myself on the fire, I went to the meetings where I didn’t know anybody and I met people.
R: And from there I said Hey can I come diving with you, I just looked for dive partners and there was a few of the more senior members that the community really respects their experience. I just started … them a little bit so they will let me tagged along..
RC And to make yourself helpful, to make yourself useful right
R: Exactly how can I be of service to them, I think we all understand in this sport where people aren’t necessary welcoming everybody with open arms since there’s a lot of pressure we’re constantly facing, reduce fishing opportunities and the ocean is a busy place when the sea gotting input swims, a lot of it was just earning trust by being of real person then just putting myself out there and being grateful for whatever the community was able to give back to me which was a ton.
RC: Nice, expediting your learning career, right
R: That’s a good question
RC: So once you’re, you’re all geared out, you’re ready to go, you’ve got people who ask questions to you are in a good situation at that point, what were the biggest obstacles from there or one biggest obstacle.
R: Well there’s definitely the physical comfort level of being in the ocean when things get a little, you know the weather isn’t cooperating or the swell or surf is large and you’ve gotta figure how to navigate, never ending changes conditions.
R: and currents.. there’s the tons of divers and there’s 3 hours of ..really influential and helping me understand some of our local coastline better and and learning how to navigate the currents or the rocky structure the bluffs and clips that we have to hike down to access the water in certain situation
RC: Awesome, let’s go back a little bit to talk about the 3R’s class you took. It’s put on by the San Diego council of divers. DO you know what that 3Rs stands for?
R: Yeah so the council of divers do a variety of these meetings I think it’s once a month or maybe twice a month there called the 3R’s. Rocks, rips and reef. Small team of people whether there are ex lifeguards or current lifeguards or properly trained watermen that are familiar with the local area gather at a specific beach location that varies throughout the year and teach for free, they teach the students how to navigate that entry point to the water safely as well as exit, so..
RC: That’s awesome, we actually pretty lucky to have that here in San Diego. Alright, now let’s talk a little bit about your experience now like where you were, when did you start?
R: I started in 2006
RC: That’s a good amount of experience, so what are your current challenges
R: Good question, let’s see. I still tend to dive more frequently here in Southern California than I do travelling. I would love to travel more, I definitely have a hundred pound plus tuna on the wishlists.
R: Same with waho I have not gotten into waho yet and that’s a big one on my list for this upcoming year. I guess, of course our local species with the yellowtail and white seabass trying to get a one bigger than previous seasons and work consistently.
RC: Trying to get that white seabass.. yup
R: and I guess trying to break the 50 pound marks so far as my limit for white seabass, so I’d really like to get something bigger than that.
RC: What’s your biggest white seabass
R: ah 50 pounds..
RC: That’s very nice
R: Yeah it was beautiful fish, looking for bigger.
RC: I was with you on one dive I think it was two years ago, which is you and I and we are in the kelp..
RC: and I dove down maybe like 40ft, 30-40ft hanging out there and on the sandy bottom and there’s like light shining through the kelp on this one little area it was beautiful and then I see this white seabass like it just swim across the opening. I was like sitting and I was like “Wow that’s what they looked like” wait I should shoot that and there it went I just..
R: Opportunities come and go..
RC: Yeah, exactly that was the one time I saw one. Then I come up and you were yelling like crazy “I got one, I got one” That’s awesome, remember we had to untangle it..
R: Yeah yeah, absolutely.
RC: That was a crazy one. Anyway..
R: yeah those things are illusive and unbelievable once you get at the end of the line.
RC: Right so a lot of people have ask about tips for hunting white seabass, do you have any suggestions or pointers, anything you could do to help these guys find them.
R: Well, let;s see. I think the answer for that is moving target changes from year to year but I think with the white sea bass in particular it’s a matter of time in the water and really doing your diligence with trying to understand as much as possible on how this elusive fish moves and feeds and breeds and trying to learn when the right times are to be in the water but not confining yourself to that especially if you’re new, because there’s countless stories of them surprising people..
RC: The people just hang out in the surface.. yeah
R: Yeah, being there when they don’t think they would be whether it’s “oh I’m in the water at the wrong tide, or the wrong moon cycle or the wrong blablabla”. and meanwhile there they are so right time in the water is first and foremost but get up to speed with understanding how they’ll react to moon cycles and water temperature and that’ll greatly improve your ability to find them.
RC: Cool, is there any of those details you wanna share? I mean it’s all like hidden mists, right?
R: It’s hidden mists and it’s also the behaviour changes with some of those conditions though, it might just where you look for them at that specific time might change depending on the conditions.
RC: Cause one thing we could say though, look in the kelp..
R: Look in the kelp.
RC: So find some kelp, look for them there, alright cool..
R: Although I would sure love to explain how we ran into them while spearfishing Cortez Banks this year when I was out there with Terry Maas, he saw a river of thousands and thousands of them.
R: out there nowhere near the kelp on some ledge from 60-80ft, just a river of them swimming by so usually in the kelp, near the kelp yes that’s about best of the bed as most of us have.
RC: So, let’s talk a little bit about this how you met Terry Maas
R: Let’s see, I met Terry Maas number of years ago when I was doing some contract work, contract design work for a products that, it turns out that he was actually creating called the freediver covering vest …it’s a vest that he created that’s intended to save divers, freedivers from things like shallow water blackout and some of the other variables that dangers that we face in the water. I guess, I also crossed his path when we were involved in the marine life protection act, trying to protect our fishing rights he was heavily involved in that and between the design projects we’d just loosen up and know each other over a year, and then during my presidency with the San Diego freedivers we had him come down for a meeting and I guess that kind of spark the beginning of me doing dive trips with him.
RC: Nice, the first time you’ve been you went to Cortez Banks was with Terry?
R: Yes it was. I got the invite and dropped everything and said absolutely I’ll be there, It’s a not very often one gets an invite to dive with the legends like.
RC: Yeah that’s awesome, let’s take people through this trip. Okay, so he calls you up you’re like i’m going I’m good to go, let’s do this and you meet up..
RC: How did you take from there
R: I pretty much I think I maybe got a call on Monday or Tuesday saying that we would leave Friday morning the weather was looking pretty good ..
RC: So Tuesday morning you go there whole week, thinking about it
R: Yeah I have few days, few days of excitement to think about it drove up to Ventura on a Thursday night..It’s a beautiful area. Terry’s house is a relatively close to the harbor he can see the water condition and judge a conditions from it as view and that wealth and knowledge that he has I mean he really understands how Southern California oceans work and so we headed out early Friday morning there were three of us on his 36foot ..powerboat that’s just the perfect vessel for roaming around Southern California’s channel islands. Day 1 we headed over to San Nicolas Island dove around there looking for white sea bass and some reef fish, there’s some yellow tail spots we explored also found some areas with enormous sheep head and it’s just rock fish and I mean the life in San Nicolas island is just phenomenal I highly recommend getting there, if you got a chance take it it’s really awesome place to be and no people and just fish that haven’t seen by people so it’s a lot of fun. So, day 1 was spent there after spending the day diving around San Nicolas islands and camping down for the night in a nice quiet little cove we departed the next morning for Cortez, the weather was looking perfect at this time I still didn’t fully understand what that meant but was pretty excited and just happy to be a long with a trip to as much wisdom you know growth opportunity. Up until this point I had shot a one tuna before but I was very excited that I’ve heard magical things about the tuna out at Cortez banks and was just excited to get back into some tuna grounds. When we pulled up when we arrived at Cortez things were looking pretty good the seas will come, winds were down. I’m sitting there just observing and doing anything that was needed to get the boat ready and anchored into locations so we could get to work. I just remember hearing Terry got kind of excited as he was talking to us and all of the sudden he starts yelling and he’s just saying how he’s never seen conditions like this in 20 years, underneath the boat the fish finder was just going bankers but we just had bait boiling everywhere there are boils at the left side of the boat, the right side of the boat, you’re just sitting on the boat dying to get in the water cause you know that it’s going down and it’s right there. We got the boat in position, Terry’s going on and on about how excited he is and how good the conditions looked and we suited up and it was go time so I jumped in the 60 plus foot of this beautiful bluewater, started swimming around at the front of the boat and made it probably not even 10 yards away from the boat before you getting breeze by some of the bluefin tuna out there.
RC: What category, what size?
R: They were probably 15-30 pound range and there was I don’t know maybe some of the ten, it was not a big school, it’s just exciting that’s what were looking for, smiles are around everyones face. Here we go, so we swim out in front of the boat trying to stay up currents out there can shift on a dime and to gets practiced always stay in front of the boat while you’re in areas like that when the boat is anchored especially
RC: Ahead of the current so if you stop swimming you’re getting towards the boat
R: Exactly, the currents do pick up speed, you’ll be taken to the boat instead of away from the boat and if the current shift then you should shift to get in front of the boat, so I did learn this lesson the hard way in San Nicolas Islands the day before and I was stuck a little over a hundred yards behind the boat trying to get back to it making no ground, eventually Terry had unhooked the boat no pole anchor and coming get me. That was kind of embarrassing way to start the day but we all had something to learn that every step of the road.
R: so now were swimming upfront we’re getting breeze by the tune where coming by every 5 to 7 minutes yellowtail where on the mix sometimes, baracuda there must have been a school of about two hundred of them and a real tiny group then hung out underneath me almost the whole dive and they were all huge. Eventually I finally sucked it up and shut one just because typically I don’t usually target with a barracuda but I’m not actually taking long on that was that size and figured then why not shot as well. The first day there I was a little bit undergun I had a 51 inch captain .. custom wood gun made by Matt Johnson one of our local San Diego builders here Captain Bly Spearguns.
RC: That’s the one with the embedded..
R: with the embedded white seabass stones..
RC: Yeah that’s a nice one..
R: Killer white sea bass gun absolutely perfect for California waters if you ask me, I love the mask behind the gun you can really power the heck out of it but still it’s a shorty and can be easily maneuvered through the kelp and then shoots laser straight it is just an awesome gun. However, out there while spearfishing Cortez Banks we are on bluewater and such an amazing viz that didn’t really have pack of the punch. I had a hard time getting the distance and you taking act with the tuna, I also had a 55 inch long hybrid out there with me and I found that to be kind of the same it’s just it didn’t pack the punch to get the distance I needed so after…
RC: You need a long supermag…
R: Exactly, 66 inch gun and when you’re dealing with real blue water real quality fish
RC: That’s a good point though if you’re like it’s the last minute of the trip right so you stick what you have ..
RC: but if you have enough time to think about this you wanna take the gears for that situation so like bluewater awesome visibility you want the biggest gun you can get.
R: or the biggest gun that you can load.
RC: Right yeah (laugh)
R: I feel like a 65 to 70 , 72 inch range that should cover anything we get into out there, anything shorter than 65 inches I’ve found myself in a handicap, you know there’s definitely especially when you’re talking about the larger models, the bigger tuna sit behind the smaller tuna same with the yellowtail and everything so. Occasionally you get the brace..that don’t mind coming up and saying hi but a lot of the times the bigger fish are in the background so having a weapon of choice that can reach out and touch somebody it counts it comes in handy.
RC: Nice, so did you get any fish aside from barracuda on that trip..
R: Oh, yes so the first day I was able to connect with a few yellowtail but the tuna I was just missing shots left and right on the tuna there were just always right out of range they seems to know exactly how far I could shoot and then go 3 feet behind so then we anchored up for the night the weather allowed us to stay for two days at Cortez
RC: You slept in the boat..
R: we slept in the boat and then the next morning we got up things were doing exactly the day before bait was boilin to the left and to the right we honestly knew what to expect this time. Terry had allowed me to use on of his guns…
R: since I was little powered and now that I had it was a custom one that I’m not entirely sure if it was 65 or 78 inches but somewhere in that range that Daryl had made Terry long time ago and basically I got to take that and actually the funny part of this story is I woke up and on the three day trip I’m still not that great figuring out when to take my sea sick pills, how many are needed in what points, so that Sunday morning I woke up and I really wasn;t feeling very good and I’m sitting there talking at myself of all the time it’s time to reach down and find my manhood and make a count. I can’t be pulling out, I don’t feel the part here you know when it comes to Terry and crew so although it was bad enough for I did have to say something…
R: I let them get in the water first I took my time I wa trying to let my seasick pill to take effect and get my wetsuit on and yep now is the time and I started puking over the side so no big deal it’s not my first that I’ve done that, let it go jump in the water swim 10 yards from the fish started seeing tuna had a smile back on my face that said it’s game time everything else can wait, swim in front of the boat maybe a hundred yards and drop down to about 40 to 50 ft sat still waited to see what happens but tuna started coming in and one was close enough within range and was able to pulled one…
RC: nice, nice, it’s awesome that’s your second
R: That was, I believe that time that was second..
RC: That was a blue fin?
R: That one was a yellowfin, so it’s my first yellowfin. First yellowfin tuna and still under 20 pounds..
RC: Still it’s a tuna
R: It’s accomplishment, it taste really good, right now I’m trying to break the 20 pound tuna curse.
RC: Nice (laugh) It’s a not a curse, I wish I had that curse..Alright, that’s awesome dude yeah so that was day 2
R: So that was day 2 of spearfishing cortez banks which was actually our last stay there. It was just another example of the sport the rewards tends to come after you’ve put in the work you feel like you’re at your limit. I was tired this is our third day of diving, long hard days deep out of Cortez we’re diving pretty deep depths and just all day long..
RC: Just you think it’s not gonna happen
R: Just when I was starting to have that feeling like it might not happen..
RC: It pulls you back in
R: Yes, exactly.
RC: Nice dude that’s awesome I wish I could get 20 pound yellowfin so you mentioned that you had that was your second or third, what other tunas have you shot?
R: All the tune I have been shot is local to San Diego waters. I haven’t travelled where they get them in a higher volume but the first one came at 2 or so years ago we are paddy hopping with some of the boys from San Diego freedivers and we’re in Mexican waters it was a long day and the weather was kinda turning into .. the seas where 46 ft and we are getting thrown around pretty good out there spotting paddy’s was pretty hard and remember.
RC: That’s actually a good thing is that when you’re out paddy hopping once the weather turns it’s really hard to spot those paddy so it’s hard to keep track of them so if you have divers in the water, it’s a good chance that you might lose somebody so once it gets snotty, bring it in.
R: Well, there’s that line in the sand somewhere that used to be drawn. As a captain you absolutely have to be more aware of every diver that’s in the water and more on top of the game. As for diver it’s probably a good idea also to use floats..
RC: and yeah exactly floats and whistle..
R: yeah, have the whistle like on my body is I have it on early to learn by some of my mentors. There’s been countless times where having a whistle on my body just allowed me to communicate with my partners and dive buddies so we avoided dangerous situations instead of being unprepared for like a catastrophe that was about to happen.
RC: RIght and even if you know how to whistle like I know how to whistle pretty loud with my fingers whatever but when your mouth is wet and your fingers are wet it doesn’t work.
R: OH men,
RC: so you need that whistle
R: and it’s alarming how even with a whistle with how loud those things are. When you’re out there and you’re a hundred yards away from the boat or your buddy or whatever the cases even that whistle is not as loud as you wish it would be.
RC” Right cool, alright let’s go on with the true story
R: ALright so we were down in Mexican waters the seas where pretty big things were getting pretty snotty…
R: the captain had actually he instated that it was time to go home and we had a little conversation on the boat that was had something to do with the amount of time we spent on a weekly basis researching where and how and when to find these fish we’ve now come 85% of the way here. Are we really gonna suck up all the gas money we’ve spent on the research time, are we gonna suck it up and go home or are the conditions still workable not an ideal but still workable. This is a 100% question of commitment and seeing it through the ends and not taking any shortcuts or allowing any variables to disrupt our goal. I also remember somebody on board said a thing that I, this person had a charter fishing experience, he’s worked on boat just saying these are the conditions the bluefin seem to loved for whatever reason and I just remember something clicking in my mind that said let’s just keep going. We’re 85% there lets just keep going.
R: so as we’re cruising along getting thrown around pretty good, I remember somebody spotting a school of bluefin crash in the surface and we were gonna try to get the boat in front of them and slide in quietly and see if we can connect. They moved pretty quick it’s not always the easiest thing to do especially depending on the day and the conditions like this. That’s not the easiest thing to do without spook in them and getting them to sink out or whatever the case may be. I think at that point we actually did spot a paddy as well off in the distance so I jumped in the water when we were trying to slide in on them and we connect. We went on to the paddy and I jumped in and I was supposed to be the scout to see if anything is under the paddy while everyone else just waiting on my word as soon as I jumped in that’s school of bluefin was under me and I’m sitting there loading my gun I just give a shout back to the boat “ Tunaaaaaa!” and started loading those bands as fas as I could, tried to stay calm, focus
RC: Your heart felt like raising already…
R: My heart was definitely raising and throughout this particular day too I had missed a lot of shots on the paddy so I wasn’t that confident either and I was just like “oh man. Of all the times, do not blow it now. Like there’s tuna underneath you.” So, as I’m loading the last band I’m also watching school start to disappear and I just sitting there shaking my head but you have to go until the fat lady sings until the sun goes down it doesn’t like you finish the job you came to do at the very least just dive down and see what happens. I dove down and when I got to about 40 ft the school had turn around and came to investigate me..
R: I was sitting there inside the vortex of hundred bluefin..
RC: Dude that’s so awesome.
R: I honestly couldn’t tell you the size range they were..
RC: How close were they’re like the rate of the vortex maybe…
R: They were keeping their distance. They were staying about 20-30ft out.
R: They weren’t coming that close at first and with tuna I think one thing I’ve learned is things having a good breath hold it works to your advantage.
RC: Avoiding eye contact
R: I don’t even remember having the chance to have eye contact because they were moving fast enough around me but yeah not being aggressive towards them and..
RC: Did you ever gun out or was in
R: I had my gun out and I was just stationary letting them comfortably come to me when they were ready. No fast movements or anything just hold my breath and sit and weight and sink and it’ll happen how it happens it depends on the keeping a look on the corner my eyes and just hoping that one was gonna get curious enough to break that distance gap and finally one did. It came in close enough that it wasn’t a very far shot that I took from when I remember. I hit it right on the top of the head and it came out ..
R: so that was a solid shot. It was kinda funny to play to like it wasn;t big I’ve certainly shot bigger fish but there’s something about that first tuna just being mystical and you know hearing all these stories. It was almost as if I’ve never shot a fish before like I didn’t know what to do.
RC: OH nice
R: It was so silly and I wasn’t a hundred percent sure where I hit it first either If I really had that good headshot or not. When I took of it went straight down and started to doing its thing and once you’re in the surface
RC: Do you have float line..where you shooting with a reel or with the floatline
R: I honestly don’t remember but I think that time I had a reel gun.
RC: Okay cool..
R: I don’t remember if I also had a floatline attached to it but it was with my 55 inch long hybrid with a reel but float line not sure.
RC: Cool okay
R: I do remember coming to the surface and yelling to the boat that I got one and feeling like it was my first day of spearfishing. I just didn’t wanna lose the fish ..
RC: and you’re like “come and get me”
R: yeah and another guy I think I actually even handed the gun up to people in the boat cause I was just like whatever we gotta do as a team let’s get this fish in the boat. A buddy handed me a second gun for a second shot if it’s needed I swam down to see what was going on there, I missed the second shot but that’s also when I realized that I had a shot that held and some sense of rationality sank back in to me. I realized that it’s not a huge fish and we got a good shot and pull the thing in. We pulled the thing in I think it was an 18 pounds bluefin.
RC: That’s awesome.
R: Yeah so that was fun and exciting and humorous day, humbling but not. It was funny.
R: In fact that fish as far as the San Diego freedivers record books are concerned was the first inter country bluefin tuna shot by club member so that was cool.
RC: My god, that’s awesome. Cool and then you shot another tuna
R: Yes so let’s see the third one that I have to date was…
RC: So this is after the Terry Maas trip?
R: Yes, so this past season 2014 season I got two over the summer time the first one was with Terry Maas that I told earlier and the second one was a trip on Sand Dollar, the Sand Dollar is a charter outfit based out of long beach and it’s a really great boat. Captain George and Lindsay are fantastic captains and crew they’re the epitome of, their fishermen and women first and they do this because they have a true deep love for the sport and you come home in the fishing it is good.
RC: I think I wanna do that trip this year
R: I highly recommend it really is, I mean especially if the weather cooperates when you get out to Cortez so the Sand Dollar holds 22 people, Allan Santos and I jumped of the strip which was an absolute blast, him and I dive a lot together so we really, we’re confident with each others abilities as well as we really worked well as a team. We headed out to Cortez day number 1 was at San Clemente island and that was actually my first time believe or not my first time going to San Clemente island also and we got so lucky, everything the boat actually left a couple of hours late due to bad weather
RC: What was like the date like the time range because that’s a good point. When the conditions may be different on the next year after that but just a figure like what month is it..
R: I wanna say this was early October..
RC: Okay cool..
R: this year you know keeping in mind that we’ve had a great season with warm water that’s really stuck around, the el nino conditions our fishing season went well..
R: and to October November December there’s still catching bluefin at Cortez now, this past week they’re still getting them. So, we headed out at San Clemente island when we got there was stellar conditions actually. I jumped in the water there and most of the people when one direction I was looking at the currents and overall conditions refactoring where the tides and everything like “ok I;m gonna go the other way” but cool.
RC: So where you going up current or down current
R: I was going up current
RC: Which is you should be doing anyway
R: I was looking for the up current and edge of the kelp bed and there was plenty of bait in the water all the signs were there
RC: Tell me a little bit more about those signs
R: Well, visibility was good the water temps were in the low seventies if I’m not mistaken the currents were moving but not reaping they were manageable but it wasn’t just slack tide, the currents were moving and the bait was active the blue perch and blacksmiths were around at certain areas and these are all great clues to help find where the game fish gonna be.
R: and it didn’t take long after being in the water before I got breeze some tuna right at the edge of the kelp too we got bluefins swimming by, yellowtail and occasional barracuda. All it in maybe a hundred yards in the kelp ends. I think for this portion of the trip San Clemente island portion ended up with maybe a 30 pound yellowtail or so and people are getting another fish one guy got his first yellowtail it was 36pounds and he need to fight it away with hammerhead shark.
RC: Oh geez, that’s awesome.
R: Men I was so jealous I’m like you’re gotta be kidding me I’m like your first yellowtail is that big and you got to fight it away from a seven to 8 foot hammerhead, that’s awesome, that’s so lucky. As we know from being watermen the sharks are interested in a free meal but a…
RC: Did you see the hammerhead
R: No I didn’t see this one, I saw one later on the trip but not this early.
R: San Clemente was really good until the current stop and when we hit that slack tide window every thing turned off and the rest of the day was pretty slow we head a few more spots but really didn’t find anything to interesting so the next morning the weather held we were able to make it out to Cortez.
RC: So the sandalar travelled overnight?
R: Yeah so it’s a 22 divers and bunk beds,small sleeping quarters. It’s not the most comfortable but it’s a heck of a lot of fun on board with that many guys with similar interest and plenty of group talking that we had. It was a lot of fun there was a lot of few guys from each of the other Southern California clubs on board as well so it’s always great when you get to spend sometime with some of the other clubs like the Neptune or OCSpearos, it was a really good time.
R: So we head on out to Cortez
RC: you wake up and you are in Cortez, right
R: pretty much I don’t called..the boat started motoring I don’t even remember if it was overnight or we started super early in the morning and by the time we get to Cortez it was looking good it was at same beautiful bluewater, calm condition, winds were none existent. The amount of bait it wasn’t the same trip that I had with Terry Maas you know like the amount of bait boils happening all around the boat.
RC: DId you bring a different gun this time
R: Yes this time I came prepared with an 65 inch and that turned out to be an absolute beautiful piece.
RC: I shot that one Justin had one and it’s nice..
R: I really liked it, I don’t know about you but did you it just felt comfortable to me from the moment it was put my hands..
RC: Great shape, to shoot straight
R: Perfectly balanced, yeah , perfectly balance, good weight
R: you know the recoil you can still power it up and still shoot where you wanted to. So at the cortez we got in Allan and I just started doing the rounds you know trying to it’s pretty crazy when you are in the water with 22 people, that’s a lot, it’s definitely a lot in a location like that you just got to spread out and the fish don’t seem to mind I mean for the most part there’s still pretty curious but I was just whatever it was my focus was the schools of tuna and the first day I think we got a couple few yellowtail again we’re having a hard time getting in the tuna to come and play they were there and they would breeze by every 5-7 minutes or so but they were shy. We definitely started using, had better luck when we started using flashers and kinda playing with how deep can you dive, how long can you stay down there for and a trying to get them and be comfortable
RC: You were spotting each other, right?
R: Absolutely, in this case yeah when we’re out here..
RC: Deep dives like that or you really have that spotter..
R: yeah and it really works to like for tuna they’re not scared of by people and like there’s no reason like tuna not to be using a buddy system like white seabass it’s okay occasionally I understand
RC: We don’t condone it but
R: We don’t condone it but there little … it spooks super easily with the tuna it’s just mandatory where doing 60 foot drops for hours and just under two minute bottom times right around two minutes and basically we did what we could we played with them a lot, they weren’t really engaging on that much until we were hitting those the 60 foot range and finally I don’t remember if it was Day or Day 2 that I got another bluefin but there’s only two of us on the boat that landed tuna on this trip
RC: The other guy was they’re doing deep dives too, didn’t know where he got his
R: I’m not sure, oddly enough I had a. It’s kind of funny when using a flasher there were times where I have tuna come in on a flasher when it hit 20ft deep 30ft deep the tuna come right up to it and stop right in front of it and then split I forget exactly why I did either I wasn’t prepared or I wasn’t, I don’t know why I didn’t connect with those particular
RC: You use this kind of flashers like ….
R: I have a few different types though..
RC: But it’s not the one you throw
R: I have some that thrown recovered I have one of the diamond spearfishing that builds like a ladder design that can be drop for about 60 ft. Allen has one of the Rob Allen …
RC: The new one, yup yup..
R: that you can kind of attached to your belt. Then, inside to that pod is fishing line with avary spoons and flashy things and that one works really well too so there’s a technique with each one that tends to work, I also had reflective decals on my fins
RC: The shark like those.
R: the shark, everything likes them that’s cool I had a run in with about a seven or eight foot hammerhead while I was out there too at first I thought it was a big tuna, it had five to seven tuna underneath it by the time I realized what it was I was already aiming on it and I got really excited because I haven’t had a hammerhead experience quite yet and I was really hoping to, I was really glad that I got the experience
RC: How did you prey on it when you saw it
R: I was actually at the surface I was looking for tuna I saw that some kind of shape materializing in the distance and it turned out to be 78 foot hammerhead and was about 5 to 7 tuna underneath it. I took aim on the tuna and was having that conversation with myself “ok so would it be stupid to shoot the tuna…
R: out from under the hammerhead. I think I would take the shot, the shark made the decision for me and didn’t get within he split to the side about 30-40ft away from me so ..
RC: The tuna
R: the tuna went with them. I had my gopro running and I really wanted to try and get some footage so I started following the sharks and realized that he was now interested in one of the other guys that was on the trip and that guy had a yellowtail on his belt so on it’s stringer so I decided it’s probably best to follow the shark over the sky and at least let this guy know just make sure that gotta protect your bodies out there you’re gonna protect the tribe first and foremost
RC: Yeah that would be a scary situation
R: Yeah he got some really good footage cause the hammerhead came in pretty close within 10 feet on him and he got some great footage on that gopro.
RC: Did they get footage of themselves …
R: Ah pretty much (both laugh) just about..
RC: That’s funny, cool. That’s pretty amazing right I’ll get to that eventually. I think I’m a that point where I just need to get on this trips
R: That’s really all the risk to it..
RC: I think I have an equipment for it. I think I have the skill set for it , I’m ready to take it to the next level.
R: All you gotta do is go.
RC: Right, so let’s see..
R: What was the third one
RC: Dude, that’s great. Three tuna. I got one in one reel that was like a total … that were casting on a paddy and I was using this lure, I think it is called a spoon and I cast it out I was reeling it in and tugging it to the side and I … I caught something right and I’m fighting it and it was little yellowfin
RC: It was little but I hooked it right in the eye socket so it’s probably like a total fluke
R: That’s so funny. Hey, whatever it takes get them on the boat
RC: Right, so now we’re gonna move on to a segment called spearo tips this is where you share three tips for new spearfishermen and you can help them along their journey to becoming a safe, competent, selective spearfishermen.
R: Let se three tips that I can offer to the world for any newbies starting out I think first and foremost that’s important to get some experience being comfortable and safe in the water. I highly recommend whether it’s a freediving course I highly recommend taking a freediving course that will teach you about the effects of free diving, the different dangers that we deal with like shallow water blackout. Looked into your local lifeguards situation and see what programs they may offer to help people be more comfortable in the water whether it’ something like we have in San Diego with the 3Rs the rocks, rips and reefs events that the council of divers host. Maybe there’s another lifeguard program in your area that’s worth checking out, get into your local waters is the point. When you’re purchasing gear looking back I wish and I would have save money if I were to listen to some of the advice I’ve got from more experience people especially in regards to gun selection and one of my which we hear a lot of is with divers It’s an expensive sport there’s a lot of little gadgets and I understand it takes time to figure out what’s one are necessary versus just nice to have along. Having the appropriate gun to target the species you’re looking for is key it should be appropriate for that species you’re targeting as well. Don’t go after big yellowtail and white seabass with a seventy five over 90 cm reef gun, if you do you better be close to it to make sure your shot can have the power to actually penetrate and you shouldn’t absolutely only tackle larger fish with a reel or a float line if you don’t wanna lose your gun and injure a fish. There’s nothing worst than injuring a fish or basically killing a fish that you don’t get to bring home as just it’s really sad to see that happened and actually that reminds me of a story that another one of my mentors …
RC: I’ve heard about that too..
R: You remember that story, so he missed a shot or he injured a shot of a 50-60 pound white seabass and his punishment to himself for injuring that fish was the next fish that he saw that was 50 pound or bigger he was not he was not gonna shoot so you know he did that I mean I just remembered.
RC: That’s a great example of a spearo like ethics like conservation and being selective. He had a shot, he took it. The fish came off so he would pass on the next one. That’s an awesome philosophy.
RC: And the third tip,
R: for my third and final tip I would have to say be generous, and grateful for the experience others are willing to share with you, with me, with the tribe whatever it happens to me I;ve really got a lot from the sport one I’ve approached it with no ego and just an earnest to learn and be surrounded by that happen beneath the waves. I’ve been grateful for every amount of education that others have been willing to share with me and camaraderie that’s coming along with that was made some really great friends and I believe that that’s directly due to my ability to just be happy with whatever amount of time I can spend in the water with fun people that I know that there’s passion for the sport in the ocean and I tried to just give generously to it and not worry about not getting any in return in that I feel like I’ve gotten everything you know my life is owed to those who have showed me the ropes.
RC: Awesome dude, that’s great so I’m gonna summarize those up we have focus on enjoying the ocean and being comfortable in it, getting safe, get training. TIp number 2 is get the right gun and raging for the species of fish you are hunting and number three is be generous and respectful and it’s a give and take, give without expecting to take and the whole world will open up to you.
R: That about sums it up.
RC: Alright, so we are getting ready to wrap this up ryan do you have anything else you wanna share with the spearoblog community
R: First and foremost just get out there, have fun, be respectful enjoy all the wonders that mother nature gave us and take home a lot of food for your family.
RC: Yeah, that’s awesome so how can we reach out to you
R: I’m about to be embarking on a new venture called Brink Adventure Company brinkadventure.com is gonna be the website for that you can stil contact me through percisiondiveproducsts.com or you can find me on Facebook at Ryan Sweeney
RC: Awesome, alright Ryan thank you so much for joining us on the spear podcast. It’s been really great to have you on the show I think you share a lot of valuable information today. Thank you.
R: Thanks for having me, it’s been a pleasure.
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