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up_there_the_last

New Member
Jul 18, 2020
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Hello and thanks for reading,
This is my first post on any forum.
I'm currently based in West Cork in Ireland, working with wild atlantic salmon as a fish smoker. I love food from the wild, foraging and gathering mushrooms with the odd bit of hunting, and have always loved fishing. So since moving to a cottage next to the atlantic, I have been drawn to engage with the sea beneath the surface.

I'm using my surf wetsuit and some cheap fins, and have picked up a basic speargun too. I have had some success with spider crabs, scollops and urchins, and if I could I would go further into this magnificent world, but I have a big problem in that I find diving distressing, being alarmed sometimes and overwhelmed by the might and darkness of it all. The underwater realm is beautiful and terrifying.

I cannot dive into the kelp which is where I need to be, as I feel too scared to get down into it. When the weed sways sometimes it comes alive and I jump, often shortening my breath and increasing my heartrate. I just know there's good stuff down there but I can't bring myself to go down.
I find that I almost always skirt the rocks near the shore, as a kind of peace-of-mind mechanism, and am not able to get down to explore any really effective depths. Perhaps the deepest I go is about 4 metres.
I will come back

I would love to invest a little more in proper gear and a good wetsuit as this is such wonderful way to engage with the natural world, but I absolutely must overome the fear, and am reaching out on this forum to see if anyone might have time to help me out or advise a little.

Thanks so much if you have read this far!

Max
 

Andrew the fish

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2010
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I don’t dive into kelp much. Most of my spearfishing is done on the outside edge of kelp bed where it is deeper. Maybe in 6-7 meters, depending on tide. Why would you want to go into kelp bush anyway? It is like asking for trouble. You will be busy untangling all the time. Fish is there but harder to see or kill, or pull out. To me it is not worth the trouble. The fear you describing is perhaps from you being new and in an advanced situation to which you are not ready. Give yourself time perhaps, build more skill and approach cautiously? On the other hand, there are places I will never go to, the currents too strong, or ocean swell too big and too close to rocks, stuff like that.
 

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jan 27, 2005
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I don't know about Ireland, but inside the kelp beds is where we want to be in Southern California. Our prime game fish, the white sea bass, is seldom found outside the kelp. Yes, makes it much harder to retrieve fish when they wrap up in kelp on the bottom, but its something we have to live with. I suspect your fear is just a natural reaction to a new environment and it will subside as you get more experience and become comfortable. Just don't push yourself in situations where you aren't comfortable.You didn't mention a buddy, but having a competent diver with you will not only make you feel safer, but actually be safer.
 

up_there_the_last

New Member
Jul 18, 2020
12
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I don’t dive into kelp much. Most of my spearfishing is done on the outside edge of kelp bed where it is deeper. Maybe in 6-7 meters, depending on tide. Why would you want to go into kelp bush anyway? It is like asking for trouble. You will be busy untangling all the time. Fish is there but harder to see or kill, or pull out. To me it is not worth the trouble. The fear you describing is perhaps from you being new and in an advanced situation to which you are not ready. Give yourself time perhaps, build more skill and approach cautiously? On the other hand, there are places I will never go to, the currents too strong, or ocean swell too big and too close to rocks, stuff like that.
Thanks for this, I think I'm coming to realise it's because everything is new, the whole underwater scene is like moving to a different country and not speaking the language. I need to acclimatise a little I'd say!
I haven't even seen any good size fish other than dog fish, and I always go out at low tide. Perhaps this is the wrong time as I should be in the water when the tide is moving up, toperhaps spot a bass or pollack.
My gear is also compltely inadequate, my surf wetsuit flushes at the zip and constantly tries to bring my up to the surface... I think I'd feel better with a proper suit and gun.
Any idea on what is a good thickness for fishing the Atlantic? I'm in the southwest of Ireland.
Cheers Andrew!
Max
 

up_there_the_last

New Member
Jul 18, 2020
12
1
3
36
I don't know about Ireland, but inside the kelp beds is where we want to be in Southern California. Our prime game fish, the white sea bass, is seldom found outside the kelp. Yes, makes it much harder to retrieve fish when they wrap up in kelp on the bottom, but its something we have to live with. I suspect your fear is just a natural reaction to a new environment and it will subside as you get more experience and become comfortable. Just don't push yourself in situations where you aren't comfortable.You didn't mention a buddy, but having a competent diver with you will not only make you feel safer, but actually be safer.
Amazing, thanks Bill.
I cant believe how great this forum is, so much interesting advice. One guy said "why would you want to dive into kelp" and then wham! You ONLY dive in kelp! And both with extremely valid reasons. Thanks for the reply. I do think after all this invaluable advice that it is actually an issue of acclimatising to the new environment, so I just need to get in there more often, and find a buddy or instructor.
Thanks again, good luck with the fishing!
Max
 

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jan 27, 2005
3,414
1,184
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Max, I'm sure Andrew's reply was just as valid as mine was. He apparently lives in BC, Canada, while I live in Southern California. The fish species are different and even the kelp is probably different. I'm sure West Cork is different from both places. I'll attach a couple of photos showing what our kelp can look like when its thick. In the photo of the guy on the paddleboard it looks like you could almost walk across it. That can be a bit daunting for beginners, but if you just stick your arm up as you surface, you can just sweep it aside. The real problem is when you try to dive. The heel of your fin can get caught on it and you spend half of your breath hold just trying to get free to descend. But it sounds like your kelp doesn't reach the surface and form a mat like that.

I bet having proper gear would increase your comfort level a lot too. A well fitting wet suit with attached hood will keep you warm and good fins will make you more efficient.
 

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Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jan 27, 2005
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I always wondered why you would ever want to travel by paddle board. Now I know. :)

Well, I guess there is another reason. I launched the boat five miles north, and he just paddled out from the beach. And of course he doesn't have to support a boat. :)

But that guy is a real stud. Several years ago I was arriving at a kelp bed a few miles south and he could see me from his home up on the hill. He called and asked how the visibility was and I told him we hadn't jumped in yet, but it looked decent from the boat. He asked it I would mind if he paddled out and tied the board off to my swim step. I told him it was fine with me. At the time he was using a conventional board instead of a stand up board. So I, along with two good divers, jumped in and worked that entire kelp bed for about an hour with no luck. At some point I saw the guy paddle up and tie off to my swim step. Then I looked back and saw him struggling to get a big white sea bass onto the swim step. So I swam back, helped him get it aboard, weighed it, and took photos. Then he put the fish on his board and paddled away leaving us humiliated. :)
 

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Andrew the fish

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2010
524
134
83
My gear is also compltely inadequate, my surf wetsuit flushes at the zip and constantly tries to bring my up to the surface... I think I'd feel better with a proper suit and gun.
Any idea on what is a good thickness for fishing the Atlantic?

don’t know about Atlantic, Mr.X may provide better guidance. But here in BC I find that well-fitting 5mm suit is all I need. Water here is 16 at the hottest time (top layer) and could be as cold as 8 degrees C. 5mm is a good compromise between thermal protection while being relatively not too stiff and not too buoyant. Good gloves, hood and socks is a must.

Now, you mentioned being very buoyant. You have weight belt, don’t you? All those things like a proper thermal protection, being weighted properly, good mask and fins, altogether make or break your experience.
 

Hamster

Member
Aug 27, 2016
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in the hot weather we have been having, i take a 3.5mm suit (farmer johns and top) 3mm boots and gloves, open cell suit with yamamoto neoprene and im plenty warm enough for a few hours in the water (scotland west coast). 5mm open cell will do you well for spring/summer, of course everyone is different. a thicker suit may not always be the best if new it can make you feel more confined and limit mobility. just get some plastic fins. you need to be going deeper, dont take your gun and just concentrate on penetrating the kelp and getting a feel for it the first few dives. and a weight belt thats quick to get off. when you get your suit with a hood cut holes where your ear openings are it can mess up your equalising otherwise.
 
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