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TheSpearPodcastArtITunesInterview with San Diego Spearo Justin Schleafli

Justin shares some great stories including how he was introduced to spearfishing and how he overcame the beginner hurdles.

This was a fun interview for me since I consider Justin one of my spearfishing mentors. I’ve learned a lot from him in and out of the water.

Here is a quick summary of what we covered in this episode.

  • First time spearfishing
  • First fish
  • AIDA Freediving Class
  • Breaking into the San Diego Spearfishing community
  • Mentors
  • Respecting the Elders and the History of Spearfishing
  • Waterman’s Alliance – Old School Meet
  • Most memorable trip
  • White Seabass Hunting
  • Gear Advice
  • Fish mind games
  • Fishing Resources and the importance of checking conditions
  • Closure to Closure dive using currents
  • Spearfishing charter with
  • Three tips for new spearos
  • Dive boat guest and secret spot etiquette

The Spear Episode 4 Transcript

Hey this is Roman Castro from and this is Episode 4.

Welcome back to the spear, the spear fishing podcast that helps you step up your game and keeps you company on your commute to work. Thanks for listening and welcome to the tribe. Alright guys I got some great feedback last week, I noticed that some of you guys are listening to the podcast on the website, It’s cool you can do that but it’s really difficult to go back to your spot if you accidentally close the app or whatever, so what I recommend you do is you listen to it on your iphone with the podcast app or on your android phone with stitcher app. I went ahead and create a little section on each of the show notes pages and also on the main page for the spear you can get to it by going to Once you’re on there, scroll down to the questions and you’ll see a little drop down box that says “click here to see how to listen on your iphone or android device”. Once you click that you’ll see two tabs, one tab will have a video showing you how to setup on your iphone and the other tab will have a video that showing you how to set up on your android device. Yeah, so go check that out it’ll be a much better listening experience and you’ll be able to listen to it in your car while you commute. Also, please scroll a little bit down on that page there’s a section asking you for your reviews on itunes it would be awesome if you would can give me an itune review there’s a big button in there that says “how to write an itunes review” click on that and it will guide you step by step on where to lead the review and how to do it. If you could do that it will be awesome. Thanks!

RC: On today’s episode we’re gonna interview Justin Schlaefli.

J: You say you’re new to this, but you have here is a very professional set up here..

RC: Gonna make up for the voice. Alright, here we go. Today we have Justin Schlaefli from San Diego joining us today. I met Justin when I was first starting out in spearfishing, I met him at James and Joseph’s spearfishing I was in there trying to do, basically asking questions like Robert and other guys worked to the shop and then Justin walked in there and say “Hey check out the San Diego freedivers” so long story short this is the guy that I had my first shark encounter with. We might go over that story again but let see where it goes.

RC: Anyway, Justin he’s been a San Diego freediver president for 2012-2103 he’s currently the access coordinator for the watermen’s alliance and also the captain of the San Diego freedivers team. Hey Justin, welcome to the show.

J: Thanks for having me Roman I’m thrilled to be here on your wonderful plush couch, drinking your beer and a enjoying the good times as we always do.

RC: Yes for those of you who don’t know we got a new couch here at the house because our regular was getting kinda beat up with Erin jumping all over it and so my wife said “we got a new couch what we gonna do with the old” and I said “hmm, just put it in the garage” so now it’s part of my man cave collection. I bought a sweet rug off of craigslist for 20 bucks so..

J: I like to call it your casting couch. No? Too much, okay.

RC: Too much..

(both laugh)

RC: Cool so alright, so this show is about helping the new guys out so that they go out there and do the right thing, they’re informed and they don’t make fools of themselves or give a spearfishing a bad name. Let us know how you first discover spearfishing.

J: Wow, amm discovering spearfishing it was kinda interesting thing, I’ve been a lifelong surfer, ocean enthusiasts and life long hunter as well so I grew up land hunting with my dad. He never heard spearfishing was a sport but he’s a fisherman all his life and we did a lot of big game hunting in Colorado and bird hunting around locally. He actually had a friend who’ was a missionary in a Papua New Guinea and he came back and he said “ you know let’s go spearfishing tonight, you want fresh dinner” he was like “sure” it was like there’s nothing more fresh when you catch it yourself. I thought that was a really cool thought and concept and so we went out we had no idea what we’re doing.


J: you know, no wet suit just my swim trunks, middle of the night we’re looking around with flashlight and I was just kinda if it;s gonna work underwater or waterproof, what’s going on and I’m like do we bring life jackets I mean crazy questions. We literally had no clue what we’re doing I had no idea whether need a fishing license, fortunately in the age of google we went online and look …fishing license at night went out at Marine .. here in San Diego. I don’t know how we didn’t kill ourselves it really is amazing because it was, we had one flashlight and five of us out there diving and a couple of pole spears it’s fiberglass pole spears that we pulled out off at people’s garage and run down to the store gotta use and play against sports. So we waited up out there, great time and while we are out there I am just enjoying the ocean, pitch black scared thinking I’m might get eaten by a great white something, who knows. You can’t see anything and I remember looking around and there was a little bit of a bi luminous in the water. I’m just floating, I’m really enjoying looking around and seeing what’s going on and every time the single flashlight we had came across my vision I’m seeing all the fish around and I’m like “this is really cool”. So I went down and I was looking at this cave I thought I was down like 40ft. I’m this bad ass spearfishermen, No not really! I was down like 50ft on this ledge I’m looking in this hole and there’s this sheep head.

RC:oh wow

J: that hangs in there so that’s what we took home for dinner. We got one legal fish among all of us and a couple of perch also legal but a not so good eating. After that I was completely hooked, it was wild cause combined my love of the ocean, combined my love of hunting providing food for my own table, being sustainable and being self sufficient so it was great.

RC: That’s cool. So your first fish was a goat?

J: first fish was a goat.

RC: On a pole spear? Nice.

J: yeah if you can believe it.

RC: That’s awesome.

J: It was a sitting duck

RC: That’s so cool. You said you started with a pole spear you’re using like those fiber glass ones?

J: Yeah one of the old fiberglass JBL style pole spears. We’ve got one with paralyzer tip

RC: So at that point you’re hooked, your friend was also kind of beginner, right? The friend that invited you out.

J: Beginner’s was always relative he did a lot of fishing in Papua New Guinea there’s a lot more fish over here it turns out and so he’d been very experienced over there. We got out and he was like “oh my goodness the water was so cold here and there’s waves” What’s going on? So those are whole new experience for him as well and he didn’t like it quite as much as I did but he had far form spearfishing experience than I did. For me, I knew I was in it from then I went on, I was picking up a new sports so…

RC: so once you’re in it what did you do next? Like what was your next step to advance.. what was your next breakthrough..

J: I think I’ve made every mistake in the book so I was, I just graduate college at that point, young dumb and other things. I had plenty of disposable income and lot of time I wasn’t married, a lot of time in my hands and thought it was really cool to go and shoot a fish and bring it home and cook it for one of my previous girlfriends and so I thought that was the coolest thing ever. It really is cool but.. I started making every mistake in the book. At first I didn’t reach out, I had no idea there were other spearfishermen around so I had no clue about any of that and so other people running into the beach I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know anything so I’d go to a couple of spearfishing shops and looked online picked up some gear. I had no idea what gear I was picking up, I was like “right, that sounds cool”. It looks cool let’s go with that, so I ended up with this really nice wetsuit, brand new expensive wetsuit probably a size or too small.

RC: Medium

J: Yeah it was medium and some fins. It didn’t fit my feet and you know I was making a lot of mistakes and it was more dangerous when I was making mistakes with my diving as well. So I am hyperventilating to go down, be more comfortable. I didn’t know the fishing game rules very well.


J: so I ended up just to memorizing the size limits and the look out of fishing game and memorized like three fish that was all I am hunting for about a year and a half and I did a lot of stupid things, really lucky I didn’t kill myself but I ended up I heard about a class this was probably my first real breakthrough, so I heard about a class from one of the shops I’ve visited and there were somebody come shoot an item.. She was out of England and freediving is really big in Europe and that was great news. So she was coming and bringing her experience in States and never heard of FFI, I’ve never heard of PFI. I didn’t know anything she came and I took her level 1 course and I learned that there’s a lot of technical aspect about freediving and safety that I just didn’t know before I had no clue and so over a weekend in her class I learned so much about safety and I also met few other people in the class who really brought me into the sport. One guy in the class I partnered up with while we were going through it and he said “San Diego freedivers local club, have you looked into” and I said “yeah I saw that online”

RC: Oh yeah that’s stuff..

J: I didn’t know about those guys, you know meetings are not for me sort of attitude and he’s like “No they’re really cool” and come over and check it out. So I said “okay!” I ended up most weekends we sort of diving together so I came over to check out his club, quote and quote and was like “THese guys, these are interesting”. Well, it turns out they really like beer and I like beer so we started hitting it off right there and it was much smaller club back then and we ended up joining after few months and meeting so many great people through that process as a San Diego freediver and it step up to come in the board later on. My two breaks I have to say it would probably all from that one class broke up with the community for me, the larger community of freedivers that I didn’t have any touch with. I didn’t know who they were and running into the people at the beach and that’s all. I’d never run into them outside of the water where I could have a conversation.

RC: Oh right

J: and learn. There we’re so much I feel that I didn’t know and going into it thinking “oh you know I can pick everything that I like…spearboards whatever it is..

RC: Spear form, spear form..

J: Yeah I know I’ve picked up everything and it was dangerous cause I didn’t know what I didn’t know until I that time.

RC: Right, yup. That’s the great point for beginners you didn’t know what you don;t know. When you take on of this classes you end up building up that comradery with especially with your partner, because you’re partnered up usually and you know that they’ve been trained and you guys both know what the protocols are so that makes up makes a lot of safer situation.

J: Yeah when you dive with other more experienced people you see what gear they are using, you see how they’re wearing their gear, wear their knife how are they wearing their stringer, little techniques you wouldn’t know otherwise and that was, it was a big eye opener for me and it lead to me growing in the sport until then I’ve never seen a white seabass and then six months later I shot my first white seabass.

RC: Nice

J: so it was really kind of a crazy progression at that point.

RC: That white seabass was that on a shore dive or boat dive..

J : It was on a shore dive. It was actually, I was shocked to see the white seabass coming back in from a dive ..they’re only in the kelp. That’s what I’ve been picked up forms online and I was like “this is where they have to be” and so I’m coming in… I just left the kelp and there’s a three white sea bass swimming right through me and I was like “No, that is not a seabass” It is not in the kelp and so sure enough it was and I just got into a gun and was eager to get some blood on in and I ended up taking my first shot and sea bass landed it went in right after my sister’s wedding I came back cleaned it… It was fun, yeah.

RC: Awesome, nice. You would be surprise if you see a sea bass..

J you gonna give up your secret spots ha..

RC: Secret spots, yeah exactly. So you joined the San Diego freedivers you’re making these great breakthroughs and did you feel like any particular guy was your mentor?


J: In mentor means a lot of different things so you know a lot of people think a mentor is that’s somebody who’s gonna go out and dive with you and tell you what to do and what not to do when how to do it and all the rest. I didn’t really have a mentor of that sort, so I dove with a lot of people some that are experienced maybe a little bit more experienced than I did or than I was, so I was looking at how did things and I learned a lot because there’s some things that are just style preference. They do things because that will make sense to them or that’s what works best for them. There’s other things that are safety related there’s a kinda absolute must.

R: Right

J: They’re very important that I also learned from them but as far as mentor I do, I have a couple of individuals I was lucky enough to meet and they didn’t mentor me necessarily by telling me what to do or how to do it. They mentored me by introducing me to people, introducing me to the culture of the sport, introducing me the values that I should have. Before that I frankly wasn’t very sensitive to when I was shooting or where I was and I wasn’t thinking about the historic population of fish and I wasn’t hearing some of the observation that they’ve been diving since the seventies.

RC: RIght

J: They’ve observed certain trends over time. It was just something that I wasn’t picking up, diving with people with same experience level it was something that I picked up from these mentors and share. They thought me so much about respecting the elders, what are the history of the sport. It is really one of the genesis of the concept when we went back we started doing the old school meet which is trying to go back to really kind of simulating how things work at the founding of the sports. So, no wet suits, no long blade fins were doing mask and snorkel for reel, for safety purposes but no motorized transportation, no modern spearguns,polespears only. I think things like that sort of it’s a very tough form of diving but the reason that we started that, the reason why we started diving that style was because of the respect for the elders and the history of our sport that these mentors taught me of what I want to pass on to other freedivers, other spearfishermen.

RC: So the old school meet, how long has it been going on.. this will be it’s third year?

J: Yeah, this will be the third year of the old school meet and watermen’s alliance sort pf event. It really is a unique event I feel worldwide actually…

RC: That takes it back to the root of it..

J: It takes you not only does it takes you back to the roots of the sport but it takes you back to the birthplaces of the sport as well. You can argue over whether Indians or people on Fiji that’s the birthplaces but the modern birthplace of the sport is here in San Diego with the bottom scratchers. When they were doing it they were inventing a lot of the techniques that we use today. Lot of the gear that we use today, literally invented, that style of guns that we use today for the first people shot large fish offshore and things like that. A lot of the culture of our sport was also invented by them and passed along by them so it’s really proud heritage and the old school meet was intended to celebrate the founder of the sport you know … Jack Prodanovich and those sort of elders. It is supposed to honor their legacy so watermen’s alliance as a California statewide organization decided to honor those elders in sport founders and give back to our roots and do it not only with gear and with a style of it that they will recognized from back then. We also doing it in an area that they dove so we’re dealing with conditions that arguably that they dealt with water temperatures, very cold here in San Diego most of the year. So, we still do it in a summer that’s the warmest we can get but still not the same as diving in Hawaii or anywhere else. You literally have to go out of the water after about 15 or 20 minutes or you will end up with hypothermia do it’s a very tough form of diving and that’s what we’re trying to dig. I’ve had people come to me in the last two old school meet and they said “ can I wear a wool sweater to get just that ounce of insolation…


J: you know it’s not a wetsuit but I want something and I say yeah, wool sweater they had that back then “sure” they dove with that back then at times and then they stop diving with it for various reason. I had one guy coming to me and say “hey can I cover myself in crisco and that consisting with the rules that’s gonna make me warmer”. I said Hey you know if you wanna cover yourself with long hard crisco whatever that’s for you, have it, have fun.

RC: That’s cool because that’s probably what they’re’s like how can I keep it warm..

J: Yeah . I’ve had people with homemade hawaiians… it have to be a polespear. You can’t have anything modern. No modern spearguns, no modern mechanism things like that so we’re going back and so one guy came and he did a homemade Hawaiian sling, a very cool contraption. He had his own twist on it and it was really cool to see the inventiveness and tried to get back to that spirit not the fancy raffles and the … and all the rest. We’re going back to the roots, very simple.

RC: Nothing wrong with that ..oh men that’s awesome. Let’s switch gears a little bit let’s talk about your most memorable fish and it’s gonna be the most memorable fish or it can be the most memorable trip or trips.

J: That’s a tough one, you know personally I’ve been blessed with some incredibly memorable trip. The most memorable fish or trip depending on how you looked at this is really one that, it was a group of fishermen down at my boat we had some ….not too far from here in San Diego and we went down to the Mexican waters. We went out to the Coronado islands I can’t say where but we are on a certain spot in the vicinity of Coronado Islands and we had a hard days of spearfishing once you see a lot of fish they were yellow tail around but we just weren’t wanted them. We started focused on reef fish or same, let’s start call in the day and the last dive spot let’s look around and see what there is. Before we got in we took a bait and who;’s gonna get the big fish. We put some money down and we all got in the water .

RC: It’s legal because it’s in Mexico.

J: Yeah (laugh) and I remember saying before we got in the water I said we’re gonna get the biggest fish but no big black seabass.

RC: Nice

J: but it blows everything else out of the water not really fair, not really fair competition. So we set into no black seabass and said definitely no black seabass over hundred and 50 pounds, period. I’m not dealing with it, not get into the boat forget it. So we in the water you can see where I’m going with this story but with the other guys. One guy swim by me he’s heading back to the boat and he holds up a reel nice sheepshead and he said “Hey you know I shot this” it really got my competitive juices flowing. It was like a 15 pound goat and I was like “that’s a nice fish, I wonder if I can beat that”. I’m looking high low everywhere else I ended up swimming about 55 foot long ledge somewhere in there near the sand channel. When I looked down the water was crystal clear it’s not so rare for the Coronado’s but it is rare for San Diego in general.

RC: Right

J: and I looked down and I see the sheep and I’m like “no, no way” I see this fish land at the bottom so I swim down In my head I’m still not believing it this is a very large halibut. I can see from 55 feet on the surface I’m looking down normally never see a halibut but this one was just land there fat dumb and happy on this ledge. So I get down there and I get close and I’m like “nope that’s a halibut” it is a nice sized one. I ended up, I had my big seabass on me and I got my slip tip and all the rest I’m just forget it, I’m gonna shoot this sucker. So I ended up taking two bands of the gun this halibut totally thought I couldn’t see it was just sitting there, if I had hammer I could have nailed it so I get point blank on this sucker. I’m thinking this is a big fish I don’t really wanna fight this one so I definitely wanna nail it and stoned it..


J: So I get fairly close and at a good angle where I was reasonably my slip tip it wouldn’t get buried in the rock ledge, take a shot nail the sucker,stoned it and it’s the easiest halibut killed I’ve ever had. It was like 28 pound and that end up the club record that year. It was great.

RC: I know it knocked me out of the competition …I had it until you got that one..

J: yeah so I end up.. were you there? Yeah, you were there that day.

RC: I didn’t go with you guys that day

J : So I’m going back to the boat and shit run down my face and holding up the sheep head’s still. He’s got it right. I’m like no, and he said what did you get, did you get calico?… and I’m like no, I got this one in the bag dude, (he’s like) what is it? yellowtail? “No, yellowtail and so I get back to the boat I hand them at the end of the float line and I’m like bring it in. He get’s at the end of the line and his eyes just went huge, and I was like “yup that just happened”. But the day wasn’t over so it was a crazy day we get in the boat and I looked over and there’s a guy still in the water. A younger guy a really good fisherman and I see him he shot something he’s gun was on the edge we knew it was on load … what did you get? and he’s like I shot a black.. oh man this will be fun. Were like maybe you know 50, 60 a hundred pounds and he’s like “is it big?” but I didn’t think it was big. When I was looking over, all of a sudden he’s on the end of his float line and he goes water skiing behind the sucker and he goes for a run and he’s like hold on…

J: so I have another guy scrambling with his gear get another gun in the water and get another shot in the fish, we’re just doing that, that scramble cut and loss the anchor and it was funny cause the fish, we got a second shot on the fish. The fish literally toed two guys from one island to the other island across the channel and I’m just like their gonna end up in the rocks or something, this could be bad. Finally they tied up the fish we get it tied off to the boat, I motored away from the rocks and then we had the challenge to get the fish in the boat. I thought we agreed nothing a hundred and fifty pound and they said I thought it was a 50 pounder. So we ended up getting it on the boat barely nice probably 350 300 pound it was a big, big sucker. We end up going back to dock and said we don’t normally take black seabass because they are sensitive species. This is something you need to consider every time you’re out there and I said I normally don’t go after black seabass I don’t even know how I feel about people taking black seabass in general. I know that I have a policy I don’t take black seabass personally I eat them, but I don’t shoot black seabass because it’s sensitive and lesser population. On the other hand, I have noticed that even though they were once rare in our waters they bounced back a lot. The population made a huge comeback like white seabass have and it is legal in Mexico and I know that people do take them, but I often discourage them for number of reasons, one it’s a very big fish so unless you have a plan for all that meat there’s no reason to shoot or just an ego trip and you go out there and shoot the biggest fish you can. There’s some people would do that I don’t really appreciate that philosophy because there’s no need for it a big dumb fish, so easy to shoot. So where’s the challenge in there, anybody you know I shoot a 70 pound white seabass is that more impressive than somebody going to shoot a hundred and fifty pound black seabass. Well, a hundred and fifty pounder that’s almost double the size, that’s a big fish but is that more impressive than the white seabass?

RC: No

J: No, it really isn’t cause there two different class of fish. One is unfortunately very easy to shoot which is why they are such a population, one is much more difficult.


J: and it’s a surprised fish also more common and there’s more white seabass out there than black seabass but there are also tougher to get a lot tougher to find. You’ll spend all your year looking to find versus black seabass if you know the certain spot you know you can shoot them at any given day of the week. So I do discourage people from shooting black seabass and that day It was interesting, that day we shot one cause the only one he shot in his life to my knowledge and honestly after getting that in the boat I didn’t say no that he couldn’t shoot it but I was trying to discourage him in different ways. When we get back to his car he’s driving a very nice car and we get her off the boat and I just know what that’s gonna do with his car. So I was like “well, think before you shoot”. have a plan, have a way of dealing with it. I’ll tell you I only made about 12 nots going on all the way back ..there’s a fish on the boat. I normally go about 22 knots and I could even get on plain it was crazy.

RC: So I’m gonna go back a little bit to this is for Arno cause he asked me the get some of that white seabass info.. Any only pointers for finding those things? Arno’s been out there, he really wants to get on the

J: Well, you know that’s a really interesting question I thought I had put in a lot of time before I shot with my first white seabass, I really did I was like I am quote unquote “putting in the time” and I guess I just didn’t know what putting in the time meant so first and foremost white seabass is more than in the water to more likely to get one. Some people spend an entire year diving, I hope most people don’t I hope they are more successful than that but some people spend all year diving and don’t see one or see only a few and don’t have a good shot or maybe only get one. I remember one season my best white seabass season and I’ve been in the water probably two dozen times per half days each time. A lot of time in the water couple months looking for white seabass and I’m thinking I’m seeing other friends shoot them, I’m diving in the same area, I’m there on the same days I’m seeing nothing. I’m in the water at the same day as someone else, same area. I’ve been there diving at my boat shooting a white seabass and to make it even more insulting in a way there were newbies, their first white seabass and I’ve been in I got several in my belt and captain in my own boat. I’m picking the area. I’m getting there in the right spot I’m not shooting one alright, and so for the whole first half of the season it was terrible it was disastrous for me. I’m depressed as spearfishermen and I thought I was putting my time in and it was really lucky to drop so the more time you spent the more likely you are. Second half of the season ‘m completely 100% the opposite I’m shooting white seabass every weekend. I’m in the water with 10 other guys on a spot that I know was hot for white seabass. As fast as I can get in the water I can shoot one and get it back to the boat, I shot 3 that day got a limit. As fast as I’m doing that nobody gets to shoot one.

RC: I think I was on that boat trip with you ..I was like “what?”

J: Yeah so I ended up with a lot of white seabass at the end of the season so it really is time in the water so there’s a huge luck factor with white seabass,. Other things with the white seabass which you probably more point his question. One of the things I learned about white seabass other than being in the water as much possible and trying to anticipate the conditions which a white seabass enjoy which is everybody has their path white seabass theory. Somebody that I very much respect taught me to a it’s not spot dependent but being in 20minutes before , 20 mins after … you wanna be in around … He said that’s the best target window …different modes and different other things that they go into it I don’t necessarily subscribe to that maybe there’s something in the … thing.


J: For me, personally if I’m in an area specially from boat diving, If I’m in an area that I feel it’s not very fishy I’m not seeing a lot of fish, I’m not seeing a calico’s, I’m not seeing a bait fish you know it’s not the area that I wanna stay in. I need to travel to a new area I give every area about 15, 20, 30 minutes tops. If I haven’t seen any of my target fish then I’d like to move on cause that area and nobody can tell you why but it’s time to move. Especially if you have three or four guys on the boat in an area you know 30 minutes before guys in the boat you covered an area definitely and if none of you see a fish it’s definitely time to move on. I had to learn not to be afraid to move on, I may have heard certain spot is the sea bass spot that go on that down but if I’m not seeing fish it’s not there, it’s time to move on. Find the fish in areas and just chill so get in there and definitely hang out and look for what you feel is a fishy area and then calm down and do this later. So a lot of times I’ve definitely shot a plenty of white seabass from the surface. Basically, I’m on the surface I’m looking down, I’m hanging out I’m watching the calicos do their thing and there’s a bait fish swimming around and I’m just feeling very very relaxed, forget that I’m hunting white sea bass almost.

RC: Just enjoy watching the nature, I guess.

J: Yeah I’m really, It’s like discovery channel I’m in an aquarium just looking around and all of a sudden a white sea bass swim right below me and I see it in the corner of my eye there it is sucker. I swim down take a shot and land it, so

RC: That’s awesome.

J: Being a …. you yourself your attitude in the water or you charge in fish or you being in a superman style there’s probably goes a lot more than white sea bass but if you’re charging in the water and you’re going as fast as you can and you point at every fish you see with your speargun you’re just charging at it and close the distance and get a shot you’re scaring everything out there. You’re not gonna get anything by the same token they say be stealthy if you wanna ambush white sea bass. In my experience I know there’s plenty of people that will argue with me about this but I might experience, their sense are far more to in the environment than my are and their seeing me before I see them. They might not know what I am right now I know that I am a human being with a speargun pointed at them, that’s what I’m trying to get but they know I’m there they know something is there, something, someone is in that vicinity and white sea bass are curious than any fish they swim over and they’ll investigate that’s what I’m trying to shoot them as well. Curious enough to come in vicinity or their swimming by very rarely have I ever “snuck up” on a white sea bass. The largest one I’ve ever shot is I did shoot that way I was going through the kelp very carefully not paying attention, once again I wish that white sea bass was not paying attention and I looked up and I’m like “Holy crap there’s a school of white sea bass” literally in front of me. There’s one just sitting there, that’s the biggest one in the school fortunately she actually was about two feet of the end of my speargun I take a shot, stoned shot. It was lucky cause she is over 60 pounds and so that was a lucky shot I didn’t have to fight it. So being calm in the water and realizing the effect that your own attitude subconsciously will have on the fish is very important spending time in the water and you don’t worry about what moon phase it is later on.

RC: Right, I’ve heard someone say that if you’re moving around fast not to get cold you probably moving around too fast, what do you think about that? What’s your idea when it comes to hunting white sea bass

J: That’s an interesting concept, I’ve seen two real styles of white seabass hunting. There’s the quiet super quiet creep around the kelp ambush style, I guess three if you’re like me you’re kinda fall asleep in the water and then there’s another style and that’s the move around a lot you’re just covered in ground and ….if you cover enough ground eventually you’re running basically. I know a very good white sea bass who did both technique. I suppose whatever one matches your style best or maybe successful for you, i think the key is to be comfortable in the water.


J: If you’re sitting there cold in the water everybody will set eventually, maybe you need a better wetsuit. You definitely wanna be as comfortable as possible in the water you want equipment, you don’t need to buy I’m using a wetsuit I bought of the craigslists for my kid who got into the sport I thought he’s gonna like it but got out real quick, he used a wetsuit probably a size 2 large on me but it’s perfectly adequate for me, 90% of the year it served me well and yes better than that brand new fancy ..super sleek skin awesome yamamoto rubber wetsuit it cost me 500 bucks and I got this one of craigslist for 150 bucks and the guy gave me as much led that I could carry.

RC: That’s crazy

J: It’s not about the fancy gear it’s about does the gear fit you as a person, do the fins fit your foot, are you comfortable in the water and that’s why I said spending time in the water is also important because the more time you spend in the water the more comfortable you are, the more natural you are in the environment and that’s key for any fish doesn’t matter white seabass, yellowtail, anything you wanna be very comfortable in the water, very comfortable in environment or aware of what’s going on around you. If you can attain that attitude of just comfort in the water then that’s half the battle that’s why some people they wanna go and they wanna hunt and they wanted hunt a …. go lay in the bottom, just ignore everything. I know one guy who says “go down about 30 ft, lay on the bottom, close your eyes think about something else for 30 seconds, open your eyes and see what fish were around you. It’s an interesting concept and that reason that works in my opinion is what you’re doing is you’re comfortable in the water and you’re not putting off a predatory body language and movement so the fish they know there’s a human being over there most of the time, they know but they’re like this is the same human being, spearfishermen points things at me, this is a friendly human being over here. He’s at peace in the environment and all of the sudden.

RC: I might be in trouble..

J: I guess, and we move over and all of the sudden … that’s how you wanted, that’s how you wanna shoot a fish so that’s kinda my opinion on that.

RC: Dude that’s great. Do you use the kinda like charts or like a currents or any kind of maps for either white seabass hunting or like going offshore? Like a fish … for example..

J: Yeah well especially offshore but certainly for any type of spearfishing you have to be aware of the conditions so this particularly important in the place like California they have large waves that comes through they have rocky reefs and the coral reefs not in California but elsewhere it’s important to be aware of the conditions of the ocean. You don’t wanna go out on a day where there zero visibility and 10 , 15 foot … and you just get dragged across the rocks there’s no fun… you have a yard sale on the beach and get rid of all your stuff loose all your gear that’s not fun.

RC: That’s not fun..

J: so I used a very .. models, lot of a surfing websites …Noah another government websites. I have a lot of valuable information, weather information. For example,I might like a lobster tonight , I might see a perfect conditions like pacific out there, half foot swell it’s looking beautiful. I know the visibility under waters could be great but what happens will tonight there’s a forecast for fog. So I’m out, I’m looking for lobster I come up far and rolled in out of nowhere and I can’t find my way to shore and that’s fortunately it hasn’t happened to me where I haven’t been able to figure out my way back to shore but I’ve certainly been in a situation a little bit hairy..

J : Oh that was crazy, it was with Ryan and his barely functional gps and yeah that was a fun night, finding butch in the water he gotten away from the boat fog rolled in we couldn’t find him. Remember that? Oh god! Those were situation that teach you a little bit of respect for the change in the environment that can happen so suddenly, but to answer your question more directly yeah use a lot of different sources so charts.. I’m captain of my own boat. I’m responsible for the safety of everyone.


J: I’m not gonna rely on somebody else who’s to report with the report of the conditions. I’m gonna do my own research, I’m gonna figure out to ensure where I am, I’m gonna have my backup gps, my primary gps and a spot messenger on the boat, paper maps, I got moving map gps. You have to know where you are, you have to know about the conditions, water temperature swell. When you’re going offshore you have to know what wind forecast looks like maybe about 1 o’clock the wind is supposed to double that’s gonna kick up to winds well, I need to turn around before that I need to head back home in a comfortable direction downs …. and head back in the port, so those are the things you are absolutely critical as a spearfishermen but it’ll teach you a lot about conditions so you go sea bass hunting and I looked it .. I looked at a lot of things it will tell me a lot about where the currents going so a lot diver in that area with fishing reserves you have to know cause the current’s gonna take me into that reserved before well while I’m wrestling with the fish. So, I’ve been on days where the current has been so fast in La Jolla there’s no way you could fight and you end up going probably half of coastline in about 20-30min. It’s a very swift current and your gonna .. you just plan on ending up all the way from your…it’s kinda my favorite day to do what we called closure to closure dives so you go between two marine protected areas and you can dive the entire cost. All the major spot in the coast in one day just using the current so that’s an area where that’s the time where you gonna use the conditions to your advantage.

RC: That’s cool, did you guys did take on car and leave it there…

J: Yeah

RC: That’s awesome.

J: We took one car and put it in 1 and 1 car. We looked it the way the kelp, trying to figure out what direction of the current it was going I hopped in and rode it like a conveyor belt …

RC: Sounds fun

J: You know I had to do a very little kicking all I had to do was I was drop and down I was riding the current and looking for fish, shooting fish we ended up with quite a stringer that day. It was a lot of fun.

RC: That’s fun, nice. So if you’re diving in San Diego you’re new guy a cool resource it’s free, San Diego lifeguards puts out a report some recorded message to put up twice a day and the phone number is 6192218824 and that’s ..San Diego lifeguards they put a report that’s 619228824. I have it actually on my speed dial on my phone at work

J: (both laugh) Too much dreaming about spearfishing work, alright..

RC: So let’s talk a little bit more about trips. Have you done any charters?

J: Yeah I’ve done a couple of charters ..

RC: Your favorite one not to mention the second one, what’s your favorite one

J : Well, I went down to a isla Mujeres in Mexico and there’s probably…

RC: Island of women

J: Yes, so my favorite dive charter is a it’s a unique journey I’m there with my wife all week and unfortunately she was sick and had to stay in the hotel and I was like “well, here’s my opportunity” right?

RC: I guess you’ll just go spearfishing

J: It’s like sorry honey, so I ended up hopping on a.. the great thing about isla mujerez is it is an island it’s off of Cancun so you can get to Cancun for regularly good for schedule. I didn’t spearfish on the island but I was doing a charter down in Cosmo it was another island.

RC: Yeah

J: It was an interesting trip because actually I hopped in the boat then go from isla mujerez to mainland and then hop to taxi from the mainland going down to I forgot what it’s called down there but ..yeah Playa del Carmen


J: I ended up going and hop in on the charter..It was money well spent, it was a great day, fantastic fishing. I knew since I was on a vacation that even though I had a fridge in my hotel room I knew that I had limited ability to cook the whatever fish I caught so just trying to be very very simple active about what I shot. I got what I was targeting ended having a spectacular day.


J: Took it back had it cooked up at a local restaurant

RC: Cool

J: It was delicious my wife loved it and or pretended to love it and it was money well spent that was with Leo and a spearfishing today.

RC: yeah

J: yeah he’s got a great crew, good boat, very professional operation and he put he’s own fish, it was amazing.

RC: Yeah did you guys dive that rack

J: No we didn’t dive a wreck, we dove a wall and a several reef locations and half guided tour of all the cool spot of the cost of .. and half crazy awesome fishing days.

RC: Nice dude. That’s awesome. Alright Justin we are at the part of the show that used to be called spearo tips we just decided right now to renamed it the spear tip. Here we go, so the spear tip is where you tell the new diver three things that will be useful to them on their spearfishing journey to becoming competent, ethical, selective spearfishermen.

J: Excellent, so it’s a great idea for segment I’m glad you’re doing it I wish, I really wish that your webcast went around when I was new to the sport there’s a lot of things that I could learn but you know three things that I have tips for newer spearfishermen I guess I would start with a try the gear before you buy it if you have that ability, if you have friends in this sport in a lot of way on what we do is a solo sport but it’s also a very much group sport so, talk to your dive buddies, find out what’s working for them, what’s not working for them and if you have that ability as you get in into the sport that’s very useful because you learn a lot and so you might learn from mistakes that they’ve made in the gear that they bought and unfortunately that it didn’t worked for them that they’re trying to sell off for whatever it is. If you have a spearfishing shop locally like James & Joseph then you can got to and they have run old gear maybe. It’s good source of great advice I think you’re gonna even call them up and talk, you can benefit from their advice from gear that other people brought back so this wasn’t working for them because of certain preference or certain body type or something a certain foot size. That’s very important that would have save me a ton of money and as I progressing through my spearfishing career

RC: We should warn them though, “Do not try your friend’s carbon fiber fins if you weren’t using plastic fins, unless ……….

J : and don’t pee in your friends’s wetsuit. So, that’s my top tip and a whole host practical purposes but I know that’s most important is knowing what you’re shooting is important when you’re spearfishing, so no what the fish you shoot that is know what the size limit is, know what the possession limit is, know what it’s look like. I mean I had plenty of people I have taken dive in and they come back to me and first thing I tell them is know what you shoot before you shoot is and when you can’t take back that shoot, once you’ve killed the fish it’s over and you don’t wanna kill something that is not a legal fish or that’s not sustainable. So, do your research before you get in the water and know what you’re shooting at if you’re not sure hopefully you are diving with a more experience spearfisher, you can ask them. If you’re not sure then you’re diving on your own take a mental snapshot, don’t shoot the fish, go home look online and figure out what it is. Over time you’ll get a really good idea what fish are in your local waters and what to shoot and what not to shoot, what’s delicious and what’s not. I wish I had understood that more when I got into this sport because it’s so critical and I do have to say that I have kicked people off my boat and I have never dove with people again if they come out, they shoot something that they shouldn’t. It’ll give me a lot of trouble, it;ll give them a lot of trouble, it can get my boat confiscate, my car confiscate, my gear confiscate so you don’t mess with the fishing game, you don’t do that for a practical purpose but you also don’t do that for unethical purpose. You don’t wanna be shooting stuff that’s illegal shoot for a reason in most cases and you also don’t wanna be shooting something that’s not sustainable so that’s a secondary consideration so maybe it’s legal but maybe you shouldn’t do it..


J: so yeah that’s definitely a big consideration that I have and then the third big tip I have is..

RC: That’s second and third tip, we have a resource for you guys on it’s called spearfishing recommended gear and right the top of the list there’s a maps that’s basically like illustration of the fish and their names, so that’s a good little like a laminated sheet with a species for your area, just find the id card for your area and that’s a good reference to have when you dive.

J: Men I kept that card in my truck and I still keep one on my boat.

RC: RIght

J: So, the last major tip that I have is to respect what you shoot, respect those that you dive with so it’s absolutely critical if you wanna be invited back into somebody’s boat or you’re invited back to their boat you need to respect what you’re shooting, make sure you take it home you’ve harvested that fish and you need to make sure that you have purpose in mind for that. I’ve heard guys in the past and I eventually had people kicked out of our club because of unethical practice, leaving fish on the shoreline or throwing in the trash or something it goes on the long tramp or what. It’s just not the right way, if you want to continue fishing, you wanna continue the sport, it’s very short sided to go out and waste your resource. You don’t wanna do that, you’ll also wanna make sure that you respect in the people that you dive with so part of that is acting in a responsible and ethical manner so you’re not getting them into trouble either, but apart of that is respecting others time if they take you out on your boat you should stay behind afterwards, offer gas money, offer them a help to clean the boat, offer them to help them hooked it on their traier whatever else they need. You just got a ride on their boat it’s very expensive thing, you’re just gotten taken in one of their secret spots, you need to respect that you need to keep that spot to yourself, not to go and dive somebody else’s secret spot with your new best buddy his gonna tell his new best buddy and their 10 friends that;s a good way to blow up some spot and that’s not right and that’s not how you should behave and so I learned that the hard way unfortunately myself I made them stay and I took other friends that are trustworthy in my secret spot and they blew it up for somebody and that’s not right and that’s not fair so respect the knowledge that’s handed down to you, respect the spots that people take you too and fish sustainably and responsibly that’s the point of that.

RC: Nice, nice let me summarize that up the three pointers would be try your gear before you buy it, borrow up from a friend, go to a dive shop try out there and this way you’ll save yourself the cost of buying something that you’re not sure of and then realizing that it doesn’t work out for you and you get stuck with it. TIp number 2 is know the species, the size and the limits to all of these fish that you’re gonna be shooting. If you don’t know what those are pass on the fish go home and do the research, just look on prominent fishing game and make sure you know what you’re shooting. Third and final tip was respect the sport and the people you dive with and respect in this case means, respecting your catch, respecting your fish eating what you shoot and respect the other people’s dive spot they share with you.. Alright, Justin that were some awesome tips what would you like to leave as your parting piece of advice for the new spearo out there.

J: Well, parting piece of advice I would say for a new spearo joining into the sport recognize that there’s larger community out there and as such strive to be part of that community. We’re not a bunch of lone wolves out there getting fish we get together we tells fish stories and drink beer and we get together as a community and we make things happen. Join a club or join an organization if there is one in your area start one if not you can get back there’s a lot of powering organization that mentioned the watermen’s alliance is a strong organization is kind of a club of clubs it’s statewide organization representing all the spearfishing club in the state of California and so if you have time volunteer for the watermen’s alliance, donate money if you had money do donate whatever you have because there working in to try to preserve our sport, preserve our way of life, keep areas open of spearfishing make sure that there’s a alliance of based management its not just a need or just closed everything because we hate those evil people who go and kill things. It is important to give back also to your community you can do that through clubs you can also do it individually but I definitely support club events if their doing a beach clan or something that you can give back to the community you’re not just taking from the ocean you’re giving back you’re living a good spearsfishermen community, hopefully leaving it better for future generations so that the sport continues into the future.

RC: Awesome, I wanna thank you so much for joining me on the show today, Men that was fun. Hello, are you there? (both laugh)

RC: That’s a comfortable couch isn’t ? I know you …

J: Thanks for having me on the show, it was very enjoyable your plush couch was, as a comfortable as I was promised and appreciate you have me on it , hopefully passed on a little knowledge that we shared with me and hopefully pass that along to new spearfishermen and keep the spirit of our sport alive.

RC: Awesome, thanks!

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