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Spear Fishing Article - A Dangerous Spear Fishing Lesson About Catching Octopus

This spear fishing article is a good lesson for those just learning how to spearfish. This is one of those spear fishing articles that everyone interested in learning to spear fish or that are already experience with many spearfishing trips under their belts should read just to add to their knowledge about spear fishing safety and snorkeling safety. Hunting octopus with a spear gun, especially catching large octopus, can be dangerous and should be done with caution and you should find a dive partner for sure when you decide to take up the sport of spear fishing for Octopus. This is an exciting snorkeling and spearfishing story that will keep you on the edge of your seat and be a truly valuable spearfishing lesson that you will remember! Enjoy!
The most stupid thing that I ever did while spear fishing, without a doubt, was attempting to spear and land a 20 foot giant pacific octopus when I was free diving by myself in Northern California in Mendocino County. Bad enough that I was in the ocean snorkeling by myself in the first place, but this is something I often do as I am usually at the coast by myself or the other divers are either too tired or hung over. I love to abalone dive and hunt ling cod, Cabazon, and other rock fish so it is either dive alone or sit on the bank with a fishing pole. Don’t get me wrong, I love that too but I do that on the days that the ocean is simply too rough for diving or I am tired or hung over!

That day of this event was a beautiful, sunny day and the ocean was calm and pretty clear. I had about 15 feet of visibility, which was quite a change from the ocean’s normal murkiness of only 6 to 10 feet of visibility, so I was excited about being able to see far enough to spearfish. I had been out for a couple of hours and I was heading in and I spotted something white about 12 feet down in about 25 feet of water. This struck me as kind of odd as you see stuff on the bottom and you see white plastic bags and such floating on the top of the water, but not often mid way between.

I swam over to check it out and I couldn’t find what I had earlier seen. I knew I was in the exact area so I was somewhat stumped. I made a dive down to the depth of what I saw and was looking around in the bull kelp to see if I could find the object. The ocean’s waves were gently causing the bull kelp to sway to and fro about 5 feet every few seconds. As the kelp washed up to me while I was on this dive, I noticed the white once again right in front of me just 2 feet away. I looked at it and saw the unmistakable suction cups on the tentacle of an octopus’ arm. The arm was huge and I followed it up and there was this octopus head that was bigger than mine, and his eye peering at me just 2 feet away!

Octopus are invisible when on the ocean floor and on kelp as their outer bodies are camouflaged exactly like the rocks and seaweed in the ocean. Only their undersides are snow white and it is a rare occasion that an octopus would allow that white to be exposed. Only the ocean’s movement caused it to turn up from the kelp from time to time briefly in this case.

I do not know what got into my head! I swam up to my dive tube and unlatched my spear pole from the hook. I left my spear gun home and all I had was this Hawaiian sling spear pole about 6 feet long. I carefully watched from the surface as the octopus drifted back and forth with the current as I got the pole loose and got a few needed breaths in me. I developed this plan, that looking back was borderline insane. I figured I would just dive down and spear the octopus in the head and with my body’s momentum from kicking hard with my fins, rip him neatly from the 20 foot long bull kelp stalk and with my spear pole pointed upward, I would take him up to my dive tube and simply swim in the hundred yards to the bank with him wrapped around me and the float tube and go show him off! Stupid idea.

I took a deep breath, while still being somewhat drained from holding it from the last dive, I stretched the rubber band as far as I could on the hawaian sling and down I went. Damn if I couldn’t see him, until all of a sudden he floated right to me and that arm turned over again and I looked up and there is his head. I had already been holding my breath quite a while and was approaching the end of this dive but I thought I would lose him if I waited, so I let him have it with the spear pole. Then I kicked with my fins using all my might and ripped as hard as I could with my arms. I managed to free about 3 of his 8 ten foot legs, which were probably already free or I wouldn’t have even got those. He didn’t budge. Now, with my body already beginning to want air, I began my new plan “b” that I developed there on the spot which was not much better than plan “a” that had already failed.

I had torn his head open a bit with my huge yank on the spear, so I then inserted my fingers from each hand into the hole and ripped even a larger hole that my whole hand would fit in. I reached in and began grabbing anything and everything in his head and yanking it out. I did this about 5 times and my body had begun to gasp for air against my closed mouth. I had to get to the surface! I yanked my spear out of his head and re-shot him in the thick, meaty, arm to try and hold him on the barbs of my spear. I went towards the surface and was holding the spear pole by the end of the rubber band and had my arm outstretched as far as possible, but my snorkel was still about a foot from the surface of the ocean. I had to surface and when I did I felt the barbs pull loose from the meat of the octopus. There was nothing I could do. I gasped in about six or eight breaths of air that my body was desparate for, which was not nearly enough to satisfy its needs, and back down I went. I couldn’t find that octopus anywhere. I came up and got a few more breaths and down I went, over and over, searching every piece of bull kelp in that forest. He had gotten away but I knew he was dead somewhere close.

The water was 25 feet deep and I was exhausted from the previous long dive, as remember, I was on my way in when this all occurred! I couldn’t see the bottom from the surface so I had to dive pretty deep to try and find him. I dove for over 3 more hours straight searching for him and even came back the next day as I figured his dead body would be upturned and out of his hiding spot, but to no avail. I nearly drowned and I lost him. Had he gotten any one of those arms that I ripped loose around any part of my body, I would not be writing this story today! I know this now as once when I was scuba diving I speared a ten foot octopus and getting him free from the rocks took both me and my dive partner. Now, that was crazy and the most dangerous, idiotic, stupid, imbecile, insane, ignorant, un-smart, foolish, crazy, asinine, fool hearted, mentally deranged thing I have ever done while snorkeling and free diving. I won’t do anything that stupid again--- although last time out (by myself) I decided to spear a 7 foot mouth full of dangerous teeth known as a wolf eel, but by the time I got my spear gun loose from my float tube he had vanished or I would probably be missing too many fingers to type this! But, I promise to maybe not do anything stupid again! Maybe I better just stick to my sturgeon fishing or crappie fishing at my 60 year old age, but I can't stand it!!! I looove to dive!

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