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Keys Kraze Chronicles...

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Just visiting...
Aug 26, 2001
This trip was the first time I got to dive a deep wreck. This wreck was the Thunderbolt, an old cable layer, in 117feet off Long Key. This is where we found all of those amberjack. Anyways, this is also where I saw my first Jewfish over 50lbs.

Octo and I had been freediving to the stern of the ship that was 20feet off the bottom. I noticed there were quite a few groupers on the deck so the next dive I brought down a speargun. As I was gliding down, the outline of the wreck started to appear and I planed off. There were huge schools of Permit circling the entire wreck so it seemed the wreck was actually spinning. The entire background was moving. :eek: As I approached the deck, a large cubera snapper (30-40lbs) charged me and ruffled it's gills. As I raised my speargun, I heard this huge boom! I turned around and about crapped in my pants. A huge jewfish (400-600lbs) was about 10feet from me, extremely wound up for some reason. I opted to surface. ;)

I sent Octo back down to check it out, but when he came back up, he said he hadn't seen it. I went back down without the gun and didn't see it either. However, I did see all the grouper again. So, when I surfaced I grabbed the gun and started breathing up. This time, the jewfish met me before I even made the deck. It was so bizarre. I've heard of jewfish stealing amberjack off people's spears so I wondered if he was waiting for me to shoot something. I raised the gun and pointed it at some passing fish and I swear, if this thing could, it would have been drooling. Total Pavlovian response. Everytime I raised the gun like I was going to shoot, this thing would go absolutely nuts. It was just like a dog that was about to be fed. It was actually swimming in tight circles and coming back to me like I was going to feed it. The most impressive thing was that this guy was as big as my car! :blackeye I couldn't believe the agility of this huge creature!

Well, I never pulled the trigger, or actually got a chance to. My last dive with the jewfish actually had me a bit too distracted and I stayed a little too long on the deck cause when I surfaced it felt like my body wanted to go to sleep. I've never samba'd before, but I think that was the closest I had come to having one. Too close for me. Luckily Octo was there to greet me at the surface. :)

So, now that I'm no longer a wreck virgin, I plan on visiting these things as much as possible. Hopefully I can start bringing a camera down there to document some of the stuff freedivers encounter on them. :cool:

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Killer story Anderson!

It's one thing to see large rays and sharks, but to see a 'normal' shaped fish as big as a car.....very weird. I had no idea those things got that big. But then, I'm not only a 'wreck virgin', I'm an ocean spearo virgin too :waterwork. I have guns, have been in the ocean and can hold my breath though....does that qualify me to come to the Kraze next year :D? Maybe if you had a more confident shot, you would have gone for the stone rofl.


Jewfish are very common up here in the Palm Beaches. Last weekend, we saw five on top of a wreck. They are used to stealing fish off hook-and-line anglers and spearos alike. I guess being a huge, protected species gives you some balls.

The ones on the Thunderbolt are particulaly aggressive. They used to do some hand feeding in the area and they learn quick. As far as speed goes they are definitely sprinters. Seen one chase down a wounded 50 lbs AJ. Cool!
Keys Kraze Chronicles...and Photos

--Great story, Andrsn!
Informative, too; didn't know Jewfish could be so aggressive, (or clever!) Turning around and seeing a fish as big as a VW-- that close--with that much adrenaline, who needs coffee?!

[I'm still curious why Sven's name is linked to Manatee behavior...]

I just browsed Andrsn's photos from Kk'03 and I must say they are wonderful and inspiring! A nice mix of above water and underwater shots, good going.
God, that looked like fun!

--When you have a hunting competition like Kk'03, (lasting more than one or two days,)--what's the arrangement for handling, storing, and transporting the fillets?

I also happened to check some of the Photos of the Freediving Competition in Sardinia, newly added as of today, I believe....they are beauts!
Glad you liked the pics, Ocean. As for the fish, just have plenty of coolers with plenty of ice. :D

I had many "firsts" during this trip. Another being that I got to swim with 2 porpoises as they passed through our area. They didn't really seem interested in playing with me, but they slowed down and checked me out. Their presence was pretty mind boggling. What graceful creatures. :)

I also saw my first Bull Shark. Everyone was right, just a pitbull with fins. Now that was an impressive sight. We were over some patch reefs that were holding yellowtails and the few times I went down to line up a shot on one, this beefy bull shark kept passing through between patches. I've heard how they react to wounded fish, so I never pulled the trigger in this instance, either. :(

Did the bottle nose click on you? To me it feels like the sound is coming from inside of you. I've had several probe me with their sonar as I was working a ledge. Seems like they can sneek up on you much better than a shark. But far less intimidating once you see what they are! Are you staying in Co for the summer or coming back to Fl? Maybe we could actually meet? Where did you guys find the ever elusive Margate?
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I wish I had a camera for A's first bull shark...it was quite funny. We had seen the shark(actually there was 2 of them) a few times before Andrsn. After seeing it he was still itching to shoot some yellowtails. I told him not to worry about the damn shark and I would watch his back...good plan huh:duh

Anyway Andy dove and settled in on the bottom. As I watch him lining up on a tail I see the shark cruising through the sand channel approaching Andy from behind and to the side:crutch Andrsn noticed the shark before he shot and wisely refrained. The shark cruised within feet of him...fun times in the Keys.

To all those sell-outs in DB land...you guys really missed out on good times with great people, the trip is one of my all time favorites.

Next time we are going to break some "bluewater cherries" too...
Welcome to Florida! Have a gerkin.

Originally posted by frogman
I guess being a huge, protected species gives you some balls.

Yeah, well... :head

I had a nagging feeling I was coming down with something the couple days prior to the show. "Great, spend a year getting geared up for it and now I can't sneeze!" :waterwork I figured that some salt water sinus douche would pull me through but suffice to say that I spent the first two days on the beach. Just call me Mr. Cleaning and Shopping Guy. Uh, no don't. :naughty

Day three dawned after knoicking back a five day prescription kindly provided to me by Dr Mas and a session spent over the steam pot filled with all manner of weird and pungent crap and damned if I didn't feel a tad better! I mean, I could tie my shoes without a grimace! I was on!!

Well, sorta. I never, I mean never put together a dive that wasn't a struggle. A real bummer when I was diving in water and depth that I had knocked. I mean totally nailed!
And to top it off, I wasn't even seeing the fish! :confused:

Day four I was able to put it together and pop an AJ on the Tbolt and make the deck a few times to see what was under the bait. That in itself was enough for me to declare the cold gone and the game on! Let the cudas come, grab the grouper, alert the AJ and signal the snapper!!

Uh, no. I found at this point I was just going to do the armed tourist thing and play it by, uh, ear. I managed a couple of 70 foot drops before the doors closed on the sinuses and pretty much just admired the skills of Aquiles and styling Jay. Nice to be local and being good helps too. Must have been the ventilated Elios suit Jay was pimping.

I was really happy with my homemade hybrid, putting the stone on every fish I took, the AJ, and adding a Yellowtail and a red Grouper to the cooler and a black the next day.

I had relagated myself to a couple dozen jumps and a session on the swimstep, but was more than happy to throw a tank on and extract a healthy grouper for Senor Styron and Aquiles, herein known now as Dr. Nutsack rofl on a sweet patch of bottom. Having a few hundred PSI let me take my sweet time clearing and working the reverse blockage issues. Unfortunately I had pretty much buggered the show and tore a frontal sinus with all the desperation antics of the previous few days and I'm in for it now...:waterwork

Kicking back with the Mas clan at the mobile cabana was a definite highlight and muy props again to the crew there that made my attempts at cooking cuban a real joke! !Hola chicka!

There's much more to this story too, like listening to Mike do his Cartman routine to the most mundane episode of whatever and leaving us rolling!rofl Catching a smooth operator like Jay doing what it took to bring in the catch with panache and humility and watching local jefe Aquiles doing the root for the biggun's in the nooks and crannys. Aaron- two words... Meds and nomoSpeedos!
And that Anderson, whom I knighted as the Pastey Spearo, can go for months without saltwater and still pop off a 80 footer witout nutting up? smoooth. :cool:

To you that said you'd show and didn't, hey, your loss. But here's a little stubby extended your direction. And about the manatee... it was a ploy to direct the others attention away from my zip code whilst I slid sans anywear into my gear. Nuttin gets between me and my Picasso. ;)

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Gotta have a place to store the gherkin

Thanks for the hunting lessons guys. I learned more in 5 days than the last few years. Sorry to hear you blew out your sinus Sven. Hope you heal quickly, even if you didn't like my speedo.:) I still laugh out loud when I replay some of Rgdvr's classic Cartman lines..."don't spit it out Sven; no, don't do it". The vision of Aquiles helplessly, uncontrollably laughing for the mirthful minutes following that smooth comedic delivery is a favorite of mine.

Many warm salutations to all the great people I met at KK...So, that was poor vis and cold water?? Best diving I have done in years! (I was truly sad to have left) Cannot wait to get back to the southeast...
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