Early Saturday morning, Bigjim, Fuzz, Adam415 and myself faired rainy weather for a coastal pilgrimage to Sonoma. Dark and rainy along the freeway the rain let up and the fog rolled away when we neared our destination. On days like this the Sonoma coast is particularly beautiful draped in morning sunshine and retreating fingers of fog.
Adam and I carpooled together and being a bit ahead of Jim and Harold we got to our initial target site first. The walls of water breaking along the beach looked clear and blue, but they were stills walls of water and the site looked less than pleasant. We relocated to a site nearby which had looked calmer on the drive up. We flagged down Jim and Fuzz and it wasn’t long before we were preparing our kayaks and paddling out. The weather had kept most others away, but we did run into a few other divers heading out at the launch.
We didn’t paddle far but on my very first drop down I saw red. A couple more drops to warm up and find his hole and I was ready to take my first shot of the day. I dropped to 40′ loaded my spear illuminated the hole and took aim. He was a few feet back and most of his body was behind a rock so my opportunity for a head shot was very limited. I released knowing I hit him but also knowing that the spear wasn’t heavy with fish. I surfaced, returned, and upon inspection I found him in the same hole floating upside near the front. I grabbed his gill plate, he thrashed broke free of my grip, and then swam in upside down spirals until I grabbed him again, this game repeated back at my kayak when I tried to get him on the stringer. But eventually I caught him, bled him, and strung him.
I got back to diving and started to really relax. This was my second dive with my new suit and wow what a difference it makes in bottom times when you can stay warm and relaxed. I would say that this was some of my best diving to date. Bottom times that would normally be outliers during a days dive seemed commonplace yesterday.
While cruising the bottom on one drop, primarily focused on relaxing and getting into that Zen level mindset, I floated over a crevice and looked down on a huge red. Without any hurried or frantic motions I carefully loaded my spear and did my best to almost drift the shaft into position. I let steel fly and punched my tip straight through, success! Adam was nearby on the surface and looked enviously upon my catch. I had caught the first two Vermilion of the day but there would be many more.
I kept diving, passed on some lings, took my final Sonoma County abalone, and checked back in with Adam. He had two large reds on his belt, soon after Jim began screaming like an excited school girl at a surprise quinceañera and I knew he had found a red too.
Diving continued and somehow Adam found two more, Jim found two more, Fuzz took three, one of which he shot as it chased my fins, and I found one final red. We had only been diving 3-4 hours but between the four of us we had shot 13 Vermilion, many of which over 20″. Adam had taken the most, I had taken the largest 22.5″ and we had all taken great advantage of 10-15′ viz and mediocre conditions. In addition to the reds Jim had popped three scallops and Fuzz had lain waste to a couple 30+” lingcod, finally lots of 9″ abs were scored.
We headed back in, took some photos gathered our gear, and parted ways. It was a great day diving on the bountiful Sonoma Coast.