The stars aligned for my first dive of 2014. The forecast showed calm water for Sunday, and my buddies Adam and Nathan would be able to join me. As usual we met in the parking lot of Stillwater South at about 7:30am. The water seemed even more glassy than the forecast predicted and as we paddled out we could see the bottom while seated in our kayaks, we knew the visibility would be stunning.
After a long paddle we reached the area we would be diving. Once submerged it was clear it would be a spectacular day. The visibility was in excess of 40′ and the fish were abundant. Schools of large blue rockfish spattered with good sized olives, lingcod looking up from the bottom, and although much more infrequent we spotted several sheepshead. Nathan took one and Adam took two, I punched one through the body and sadly she thrashed so hard she was able to pull free from my flopper tip. I would later see two more even larger sheep and they would escape me. At this location I did succeed in hunting three olive rockfish of good size with my 7′ polespear.
Almost without our observance the scene above water changed dramatically. A thick blanket of Monterey fog rolled along the ocean and within what felt like minutes the surface visibility decreased so much we could barely make out the shore from where we were diving. Nathan headed in and Adam and I moved spots looking for a wash rock we had spotted earlier but eventually we gave up unable to locate it in the fog. We continued diving taking care not to stray too far from our kayaks. While exploring holes along the ocean floor I found a substantial monkey face eel (28.75″), and then soon after a respectable ling (32″) holding still in a little crack. Here I found two sheep which quickly ran for holes that were so narrow and curved I could not remove the large fish. This was not the only torture I would suffer in this area. I came upon a holed up Giant Pacific Octopus, he was a nice size but only an arm was within my grasp. I grabbed the arm and he pulled back deeper into the hole, soon after he slipped free of my grip altogether and receded so deeply I could no longer see him, let alone grab for him, torture.
Not long after Adam and I headed back, he would stop and dive more and I paddled the full distance back to the launch to meet my friend Gina for Some dive instruction in shallower water. I would find out later Adam had scored a monkey that may be a state record (31.5″ and fairly heavy), my buddy Jim who currently holds the state record would be jealous. As I paddled back I lost all site of the coast, my entire sense of direction came from knowing not to stray too far from the kelp beds. Back at the launch I ran into Sean Otter who had also done well. Gina and I then set out for a short dive in shallower water accompanied by a playful harbour seal. It was a long day of diving but with visibility as good as it was it was hard to leave the water. It was almost 5:00pm when we headed out.