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Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Mar 20, 2005
Trying to hit my first whitey. Any white seabass experts have advice let me know please e.g. depth, general distance from the kelp, etc. I generally dive La Jolla.
Its hard to generalize, but my advice would be to dive to 15 to 20 feet in the kelp, no matter how deep the water is, and either swim very very slowly at your neutral depth or hold on to a piece of kelp just above your neutral depth and remain motionless while you wait for them to swim by.

You are definitely in one of the hot spots. La Jolla kelp is very good in the spring, and I've heard of nice fish showing in the last week.

If you are new at it, what you should realize is that your problems have just begun after you shoot one. The bottom at La Jolla kelp can be 60 feet and deeper, and unless you stone the fish or short-line it very firmly, it will go wrap up in kelp on the bottom. Unless you are an exceptional diver, it can be very dangerous to be down at those depths, perhaps in limited visibility, trying to untangle line and cut kelp. If you feel at all challenged, you should not attempt it without a buddy who is capable of that depth watching you and backing you up. I dive from my boat, and my bailout option is to give up and get a pony bottle from the boat rather than risk my life of its too threatening. Your friends may call you a pussy, and you should call them your former friends for valuing a fish more than your life. Of course if you are beach diving, getting a scuba tank from the boat is not an option.

I could go on and on about advice for beginners shooting white sea bass, but I better stop here and throw the ball back in your court. I'll be glad to help answer any question that I can.
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First I would like to thank you for your quick reply, and for taking the time to adress my post. I have grown up around the water and currently working as an ocean lifeguard. I am extremely confident in the water, however I doubt my ability to dive 60 feet and work a white seabass free from the kelp.

I am currently wielding a Metal Tech #5 and am satisfied with the gun, but am still waiting to take a fish with it. I purchased the gun at the end of last season and am confident in the rigging. For now I am using a simple float line until I have the funds to purchase a reel. I have the standard shooting line and the polyprop rope attached to the break away. For the float I used a waterproof industrial adhesive to join 3 lobster trap buoys. What is your honest opinion of this rigging.......please be blunt.

A couple of my good friends whom are avid kayak fishermen have been very successful in the recent weeks on the water in La Jolla. One of my buddies took a nice yellow at the 120 foot mark Yo Yo style, and another friend of mine landed a 37 pound white seabass on a live greenback. They told me they saw a few white seabass cruising just bellow the surface. That got my blood pumping! My buddy's yellow is on Kayak4fish.com if you are interested. The post is titled, "Vince here's your LJ yellowtail." I am constantly referring to Kayak4fish.com to monitor the activity in La Jolla. If you're ever up for a dive, my dive buddy and I live just down the way in Encinitas (a section of North County, San Diego.)

Im going to go poke around La Jolla sometime this week. Thanks again.
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Your gear sounds right with the exception of the lobster floats on the end of the float line. That would be great for yellowtail under kelp paddies or out in open water, but you will never be able to go under kelp and come up on the other side and have them follow you. They are too buoyant. Even if you wanted to just swim through the kelp on the surface, they would be constantly tangled and drive you nuts. The alternative that most guys use is just some sort of small egg float on the end of the line. Of course it is not buoyant enough to fight a fish, but just serves as a hand stop, something to grab when all the line has been pulled through your hand. I've attached some example photos.

If you could use a float big enough to fight the fish, then your line would only have to be as long as your deepest dive. But since this small float can't fight the fish, I would recommend a line at least 100 feet long. The fish will go under kelp and then run laterally, and you will be pulled straight down while the fish runs across the bottom. A friend of mine shot a 60 pounder in just 25 feet of water and almost had to give up and turn loose because he was being repeatedly pulled under, but the boat arrived just in time for him to grab the swimstep.

Other little tips for white sea bass that come to mind:

Spit out or flood the snorkle as you dive so that it won't trail bubbles. Make a quiet dive without splashing the fins on the surface, and descend smoothly and relatively slowly. Ascend slowly too so that you are not scaring fish just out of sight. Be sure to look for fish over you on the ascent. Don't overlook the possibility that you will see fish from the surface and can take a shot without even diving. Your kayak fishing buddies said they saw some from the surface, and you can too.

BTW, I'm no expert at this, but just happen to have been doing it for a while so I can't help having acquired some knowledge. I'm just saying what works for me, but of course there are a lot of guys out there who are more talented and who may have different ideas. I just want to provide all the help I can since there don't seem to be many others answering white sea bass questions on this board.

If you would like to chat or arrange a show and tell bull session comparing guns, gear, etc., my number is 949-498-1174.


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Bill - you are so right on!!!! Your posts to this and Deeper Blue have brought me back from the dead. I am planning a trip to the kelp off Capitola later this month. Think that I'll strap a bottle and regulator to my kayak.

I lived on San Nicolas Island for 3 years and started freediving there. I was successful using a 50' norprene float line, but I was rarely in water deeper than 30'.

You really do help us beginner type folks - THANKS - CJ
calicojack said:
I lived on San Nicolas Island for 3 years and started freediving there. I was successful using a 50' norprene float line, but I was rarely in water deeper than 30'.

What a super place to learn to freedive. Were you in the Navy, or a civil servant?

On that float line length thing, I'll have to confess to being overcautious. I'm sure that you could get by with less with the great majority of fish. World record holder Skip Hellen preaches letting them run with no pressure till they tire out, and last thing I read by him he said you needed 120 feet. But others point out that if you put on hard pressure, they will turn and tie up (if they don't tear off). When I'm in water that is too deep for me to freedive to the bottom safely, I often try to put on heavy pressure and hope I can make them tie up shallow. If you have a short float line, then it would probably be best to do the same.

I sure wish the weather would let me see a white sea bass instead of just talking about it. This time of year I always begin to wonder if I'm kidding myself when I recall getting fish. I had a horrible start last year, but then had a wonderful July and got a 54 pounder among others. This year I'd like to get one with weight in pounds equal to my age in years, but that gets harder every year. I'm 66 now, but I can dream, can't I? :)
I was a civil servant - I worked to provide power and water for the Island. The Navy was pretty tight about scuba, but didn't seem to care if we took a little swim. I had dived abalone on the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts prior to my posting to S.N.I., but never really thought about what else you could accomplish on a breath hold. I started catching lobsters and shooting cabazone and an occasional sheepshead with a Mares shortie. One of the guys that I dived with bought Terry Maas's book and I started wandering further out - moved up to a JBL - started taking calicos and bigger sheepshead. I had a white seabass pass beneath me while I was resting up to retrieve a large sheepshead that was tangled in the kelp around 30' down. That was the last sheepshead I ever shot!!

That was long ago - I injured my right shoulder and - i don't know- maybe it was just an excuse - anyway been reading this, Freedivelist, and Spearboard. I know some rod-n-reel guys that catch wsb in Capitola (actually they loose most of them in the kelp) and since you posted that loading tip - well I can't say that I can't load my gun anymore. I haven't been in the water for a couple of years, but I'll take it easy - don't really care if I pull the trigger or not - just gotta have the gun in case.....

Had to reply because you should know that you've made a difference for me -CJ
Hey Bill
I was reading some of your other posts and read about your military service. My pops was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps as well. He flew A6 Intruders the majority of his time in the Corps. I believe he was with the Black Bats, or the all weather attack squadron with the black bat insignia. What did you fly?

I saw the hawaiin break away rigging you have on your wong. Nice set up. I can definitely see where that would very much minimize the possiblity of not having the break away process work effectively. I currently am still using the riffe break away system. I sanded out the hole and it slides out much easier, but I'm considering utilizing the Hawaiin break away system. Would hate to have a gun ripped from my hands!

You are a more seasoned diver than myself and I am thrilled to have found this forum where I can be exposed to divers with more experience than myself. I very much appreciate your input and advice on the subject.

We'll have to meet up so you can further enlighten me. Maybe sometime before summer goes into full swing.
calicojack said:
Had to reply because you should know that you've made a difference for me -CJ

Damn! I really appreciate that. As you know, about half the things I say on Spearboard seem to drive someone nuts, so its nice to know that I don't have that effect on everyone everywhere.:)

I learned almost everything I know about West Coast Freediving and spearfishing on the Freedivelist, so I just treasure these internet opportunities to help each other out. Unfortunately, many of the most capable divers are elitists and seem to feel that their reputations will be diminished if someone else actually learns how to spear a fish. For many of us, its very hard to meet someone in person that can show us the ropes, and places like this do a great service.
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I have to agree with CalicoJack, you post a lot of very informative stuff both here and Spearboard. Thanks.

I moved up to Santa Cruz from Laguna Beach late last year and haven't explored a lot around here except with my brother a little in Moneterey. I would love to try out Capitola with you if you ever need a buddy. I've been spearing for a while, but I'm by no means an expert.

"The Last of the Bluewater Hunters by Carlos Eyles contains detailed info on hunting white sea bass in this area. It's a bit dated but probably still useful. Although my daughter used to live in California, I've never been within 4000 miles of a white sea bass. However, I would recommend that every spearfisherman in the world to read Carlos's book. Reading it made me realise that I wasn't the only nutter in the world. He really got inside my head and made me realise that something fundamental in my being connects me to others who hunt under the sea. This is true even if we live thousands of miles apart and hunt different fish in a different ocean. Whow! that's one deep thought. Read the book - be enlightened.
I too enjoyed Carlos' book. Luckily for me, hunting white sea bass is not quite as hard as he makes it out to be or I'd never get any.

Come to think of it, it may have been that hard during the period when he wrote the book, but they have made a big comeback after inshore gill netting was banned a few years ago. There really are a lot more of them the last few years.

Still, the hardest part of hunting white sea bass is just finding the kelp bed where they happen to be. After you learn a few basics, they really are not all that hard to shoot if you are where the fish are.

I'll go for several trips without seeing any and wonder what the hell I'm doing wrong now, and then when I find them I'll wonder what I thought it was so hard about it.
I concur. Bill you truly do dispense excellent information on this board. Keep it coming and thanks for the advice. Now i just need to wait for this weather to clear up before I can begin stalking the whiteys. Hasn't Southern California gotten enough rain already? I'm sick of it. It's pouring as I'm typing this post.
Yes........good info. Bill. I'm here in SD also, chasing my first WSB in LaJolla. I have to agree, the weather SUCKS!!! I'm on spring break, a full week off from work and haven't been able to dive. Monday, we tried to launch the kayaks but the surf was far too big and now it's raining. Hopefully mother nature will cut us a break here in the near future.
There were some sightings of WSB in the LJ kelp last week, but since then they're a no show, or went deep due to weather , or whatever it is that WSB do to piss off spearfisherman.

Eric, one of my buddies went out Monday and dove for five hours in that slop. He reported good vis. but no fish and he paddled ALL over those beds. He's a very good diver and shoots an Alexander Bluewater, so if the fish were anywhere near him, he would've taken even a desperate Hail Mary.

When I first moved to Southern California and started to pursue WSB, it was Bill who sent me pictures and descriptions of how he rigged his guns. There are many who've taken more and bigger fish than Bill, but that's meaningless to a guy just getting into the sport if those "masters" don't take the time to explain the techniques and other nuances of the sport.

I try to emulate that by helping anyone that asks me.
Hey Bill
I was reading some of your other posts and read about your military service. My pops was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps as well. He flew A6 Intruders the majority of his time in the Corps. I believe he was with the Black Bats, or the all weather attack squadron with the black bat insignia. What did you fly?

Sorry, I overlooked that post before now. I flew various things including the A-4, the F-4, the OV-10, the RF-4, and the EF-10B. Most of my time was in the RF-4 and EF-10B, and those aircraft were what I few in Vietnam.

We'll have to meet up so you can further enlighten me. Maybe sometime before summer goes into full swing.

It would be my pleasure, and I'm right up the freeway from you. Old divers, like old pilots, love to bullshit and share stories.
Hey Bill. Good to hear from you. Haven't been able to get to La Jolla. Hopefully we will be out on the water this Friday.......Thanks again for your help and we will meet up and shoot the breeze once work and school becomes more managable.
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