Met my buddy Kris early on Valentine’s Day morning and loaded up the car for the drive down to Monterey. We reached our planned launch site and readied our kayaks, the ocean looked rough in spots but completely manageable along the course we would use to get past the breakers. We paddled a couple miles, clipped up, and dropped into crystal clear Monterey water. We checked out the ridges, ravines, and reef in one arbitrarily chosen area and although the viz was excellent the water was not particularly fishy and so we moved a short distance over to an area slightly more familiar.
Immediately we found ourselves amongst schools of large blue rockfish, olive rockfish, lingcod, and then Kris surfaced with his first ever sheepshead. I had fallen asleep the night before visualizing male sheepsheads and after Kris’s success with a smaller female envy ensued. I was combing over some interesting structure with large pinnacles and deep ravines when I noticed a school of very large blue rockfish, one in particular looked enormous. I dropped down and began easing my way over when I noticed a large male sheepshead not far away, my mind froze, my heart rate dropped, and I began ever so slowy crawling along the ocean floor in an effort to minimize kicking while gently closing the distance. As I came within range to take the shot the fish became substantially more nervous and began looking to ease himself away but found himself against a large wall. He anxiously weaved from left to right and then I let loose my Gat-Ku and punched him through just behind the gill plate. It was a solid shot and the fish was mine, I brought it back to my stringer and showed it to Kris. Underwater the sheep had appeared fairly male (black head, red body, black tail) but up on surface the black of the head and tail was not quite as salient as it had been underwater and it seemed my large male sheep may have been more of a pre-op tranny sheep (sheepshead are hermaphroditic they start life as females, colored entirely red, and later in life when they reach maturity and become larger they change sex and become male). Soon after Kris surfaced with a slightly smaller pre-op tranny male sheep and then while checking on some flashers I had left near my kayak he surfaced with a large 29″, brightly red and black, fully male sheep, I was jealous. No other fish wold top Kris’ sheep, he had found a good specimen and although I am told they are fairly common and particularly dumb down south,they are by no means common and are relatively skittish up here in NorCal. They are also one of my favorite fish for eating, thick juicy fish steaks.
We dove a few hours longer, Kris speared a nice Lingcod and I shot a couple Perch (one of which may or may not be the state diving record), a large cabezon, and a variety of good sized rockfish. I also found myself a small scallop and was buzzed by a dolphin. The sun was shinning, the surge was not strong and the water was clear, we had had a great day diving and we paddled back a little early to fulfill our respective Valentine’s Day plans. All in all another excellent dive in the Monterey area.