top of page
Spearing Magazine Articles


Wounded while in a battle for its life, a tuna’s story simultaneously ends and begins. A new journey is in store for this great fish with a different meaning. Our story takes place while drifting on the south end of The Island of Cerralvo, in the blue waters of the Sea of Cortez, but the story begins far before we dipped our fins in the water. Call me crazy, but in my life, I’ve witnessed and been a part of events happening to me and to other people that seem to be “meant to be.” Maybe it’s just me trying to find a meaning to this crazy life, but the more often I’m a part of or witness to the odd timing of events the harder it is for me to simply believe that things just happen. To believe that there is a greater meaning to life’s events vs. believing that everything happens by chance, forces me to look deeper and find “that” greater meaning. I found a meaning for this tuna’s life after death, and I believe Chris did as well. The story that follows is about the life and death of a 70-pound yellowfin tuna; but to me it’s about much more than that. This story is about friendship. It’s about the odd conundrum of timing and it’s about weathering the inevitable storms in your life and celebrating the victories, big or small, as they come, and by doing so, becoming a better, more resilient human being.


    Drifting thirty feet below the surface, gazing up at my Murk Crew flasher rig waiting for a pelagic ghost to appear, I hear the telltale sound of a speargun firing. At the surface I hear Chris yelling, “TUNA, TUNA, TUNA!!! “IT’S NOT A GOOD SHOT!” I watch his small Rob Allen hard float race across the ocean’s surface, white water and bubbles engulfing it before it sounds. I kick over as fast as I can for a potential 2nd shot, while contemplating grabbing the camera instead. By the time I make it to him he has ahold of the tail, but the tuna immediately shakes his grasp and sounds again, taking the float under. Chris and I quickly discuss a 2nd shot but come to the conclusion that the fish is tiring, and a 2nd shot is probably not needed. The float reappears moments later, and Chris continues the battle. Before the tuna runs for the 3rd time, I get a good look at the shot and quickly see that it’s a holding shot, and the float disappears again. After reappearing once again, Chris clips his 67-inch SeaSniper Pro Custom with the nickname of “ZOMBIE PIMP” to his float, both of us thinking that the fish has little fight left, and Chris pulls floatline until he has the fish by the tail once again. Knife in hand, Chris stabs the tuna above the right eye and it sticks. In an instant the tuna goes beserk and the knife, still in Chris’s hand, slices down the fish’s shoulder, over an inch deep and over 10 inches long. Blood is pouring out of an extremely hot fish like the contrail from a jet airplane. Diving straight down, the tuna is quickly out of sight and soon after the float and the attached “Zombie Pimp” are trailing through a stream of blood and disappear. I’ll never forget the look that Chris and I gave each other after watching “The Zombie Pimp” rocket into the depths. It was a look of disbelief, a look of “oh s**t, we made the wrong call on no 2nd shot,” it was a look of amazement at the sheer power and tenacity of this fish. We wait... bobbing in the Sea of Cortez like helpless, waterlogged corks. We make our way to the Panga hoping to have a better view of a lost float and gun...if it was ever to reappear. Before we board the boat, the float and “Zombie Pimp” pop to the surface and we swim to them. I drop my gun off with Pauly, our very eager Panga captain and grab the camera. Chris pulls the fish to the surface for the last time to bleed it while I snap some photos. While on the surface, floating above the vast depth of the Sea of Cortez, we talk about how unbelievable this story is. We talk about how he needed this “fish” right now...this victory! We spoke of the odd timing of events that led up to this fish, but even more importantly, we gave this tuna’s life and ultimate death, meaning. Simultaneously we flash back to a year of “weathering storms” for the SeaSniper family. We fist pumped, slapped hands...and missed, yelled and hugged; we said thank you to one another for being there. To be honest, it was a special time to be in the water and I’m glad I was there.


    Spearfishing, such as life, is at times, deep and sometimes extremely shallow, it’s primal, gory and beautiful, horrible and wonderful. It’s life, and it’s death, but most of all, life and spearfishing for me, and the people I spearfish with, is meaningful. For us, including some of you reading my crazy, rambling words on life, freedive and spearfish for fun, but we get much more than an ego boost and a plate of sushi when we take a fish’s life, we look for and find a meaning. This gorgeous tuna had meaning while it was swimming, and it has meaning now in death.

      Battles, much like this tuna’s battle, we win, but sometimes we lose. Every day, every one of us, including you reading, are battling, weathering storms that aren’t meant to be won in the proverbial sense: The loss of a loved one, a life changing illness, separations and divorces, career changes, the sudden death of a friend are all storms that we have little too no control over. Even the tuna pictured battled storms that are unfathomable to us. A thought that continues to run through my mind is that every day. Every. Single. Day was a struggle for survival for this beautiful fish. Sharks, billfish, fishermen, idiots with spearguns tried to take this fish, but it persevered through the years and simply kept swimming and when it was its “time” this relentless tuna’s life was taken by someone who won’t forget. Its legacy wasn’t to be taken by a net and thrown in a pile of fish and never thought about again, no, this tuna was and is special. This fish was taken by someone with a heart, a soul, a conscious and a memory. The fight was valiant and strong and in an odd, dark way, from my perspective, beautiful. To be completely honest, a part of me wanted the tuna to win and continue on swimming beneath the Sea Of Cortez, to grow and live a long, amazing life, dying of old age and feeding the eco system, but a larger part of me wanted Chris to have this victory, to overcome a battle, to weather this storm and come out on top, to win, because in an odd way he needed this right now. I want to believe this tuna’s strength, its willpower, perseverance, its soul is somehow, some way a part of me, a part of Chris. This yellowfin wasn’t Chris’s first tuna, and it definitely wasn’t the largest, but there’s a good chance that it may be his most memorable, maybe for no other reason than timing, it was certainly memorable for me.

     As our week at SeaSniper Baja for the 2019 DVH Spearfishing Invitational came to a close this year, many thoughts were running through my mind: The great times in the water with friends making awesome memories, of course, but also, wondering if I will see some of these guys again next year. Will there be a DVH 2020? All of our lives are going in different directions and it’s hard to say what the next year has in store. But I know one thing; storms will be weathered; chapters will close, and new pages will turn in our lives but one thing that I know for sure is that there are some amazing things in store for the SeaSniper family and extended family. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for them.


    This life is odd, isn’t it? Sometimes we weather storms for months or years and all we want, all that we need is a victory, a successful outcome that may be a driving force for us to view life in a more positive way, or maybe it just takes a simple victory to take our thoughts away from the “storms” that we are weathering for a moment so we can take a “breath” and see things clearly, or perhaps, all any of us really need is a yellowfin tuna to look back on, to smile at the memory and think about what an incredible day that was.


-Mucho love to The Chaput’s and all of the extended SeaSniper family.



The croaking gets me everytime...

Hunting a fish by sound adds another exciting dimension to a predominantly visual sport. The croak from a White Seabass is unmistakable and merely hearing it makes my heart beat a little faster, but it also gives some reassurance that there is a fish in the area. Spearing a WSB became an obsession of mine soon after I started spearfishing. The following story is a couple of years old but the excitement of landing my first WSB is still with me today. The vivid slow motion video of that day re-plays in my mind often and is one of THOSE moments that I’ll never forget. This mid week trip manifested from a Tuesday morning phone call from my friend Noah, informing me that the SeaBass were “in.” Family and work obligations required Noah and I to make a deal with our wives; if both of us were to shoot a fish on Wednesday, our first day of spearfishing, we were to head home and not stay until Friday. Begrudgingly we agreed, but never really had any intention of upholding our end of the bargain...

Before I know it we are loading the boat up after only a couple hours of sleep and we are underway, crossing the Channel to Catalina Island at 4:00 A.M. The wind and swell were minimal and the water had a blue hue to it. In other words, the conditions were perfect! We pull up to our first kelp bed, gaze down and instantly see a yellow forked tail disappear into the kelp bed. Our first thought was Yellowtail! We anchor and within minutes both of us are in the water. Noah and I part ways and start working the kelp bed.  I instantly hear the telltale sign of WSB. CROAK, CROAK, CROAK!  Multiple croaks at the same time! "They are thick!" I think to myself. The viz is about 25ft and the bottom is at 50 ish ft. At 35 feet I can see the bottom but, still able to look up to silhouette any fish that may swim above me. The clarity of the water could not have been better. "I'm ready! It just feels fishy!" I think to myself. Countless, big Barracuda swim by as the croaking continues. I slowly turn to my right and there is a 100 pound black Sea Bass sleeping in a kelp room not 4 feet from me!  It's an amazing feeling to sneak up on a big fish without it knowing you are nearby! I felt as though I was doing something right. Noah and I dive for another hour and a half at this spot without a WSB spotted so we decide to pack up and move spots. Next stop a high spot, notorious for big Yellowtail. We kick the current, throw flashers and dive for over two hours at this high spot without a single pelagic spotted. Time to move again.


     Noah received some “super-secret” WSB intel and we are back at the Island diving a kelp bed that unknown to me at the time, will turn out to be an absolutely unforgettable experience!


     We anchor a ways away from the kelp bed. Again, we quietly enter the water and go in separate directions, Noah south and I go north, carefully navigating our way through this kelp bed. The WSB are here I can hear them and they are everywhere! Some fish sound close, others sound far, and it's only a matter of time before one of us has a sighting! After many dives I do not move far from where I first started my hunt in this kelp bed. The WSB just felt close! It's hard to explain but, many of you reading this will understand what I mean when I say that this spot just felt right. The bait acted in a certain nervous, fidgety way; different than if I was their only concern. The water had "that"   evening, dusk tint to it. There's only one way to describe it, it just felt fishy. I dive down in the middle of a kelp room and watch a school of sardine weave they're way through the kelp and barracuda into what I can only describe as a highway. It's a narrow passageway, not 10 ft. wide, between the kelp and the steep, rocky drop off toward the shore. As I lay neutral I continually watch baitfish and barracuda use this "highway" as a means to get through to different areas of the kelp. I do multiple dives on this "highway" staying on the edge of the kelp, hearing the close croaking of a WSB, just watching the activity in hopes that a Sea Bass will appear. I surface on the edge of the kelp, carefully and quietly pouring the water out of my snorkel. Noah surfaces a ways from me and we give some feedback to one another and I slowly put my face back in the water to breathe up. The next few minutes are so vivid in my mind, as I write this! As soon as I look down I see a 50 pound WSB directly underneath me at 20 feet! In that moment I know it's a WSB. I dive down and find myself frozen, in total awe of this fish and I hesitate. The color seems darker than I think it should be and for a fraction of a second I think it's a small Black Sea Bass but, I know it's not! I hesitate longer...She's in a shadow of kelp now and as I level off just above her left shoulder I simply see how beautiful she is. She notices me and slowly quarters away towards a kelp room. She doesn't seem scared just wary. By this time I've had ample time to shoot this fish but, "buck fever" is a real thing and I had it! She slowly drifts behind a large mass of kelp strands as I line up my shot on where her head should appear on the other side. I watch her yellow tinted tail touch the kelp as she effortlessly snakes her way into the kelp room. My gun at the ready, waiting for her head to appear but, it never does! She ghosted me! I can't believe it! She was right here and now she is gone!  I surface realizing what I had just done. I just blew my one opportunity for a nice WSB this trip and I was devastated. This moment was years in the making and now my vision of landing a WSB this trip, let alone this year is as fuzzy as my last sighting of her disappearing into the kelp. Every emotion ran through my mind! I think to myself "If I tell Noah this story he's not only going to kill me but, mercilessly make fun of me forever."


         I regain my composure within the next few dives and on one of my drops after I stupidly let a big WSB slip away, I lay motionless, holding onto a kelp strand at 30 feet, inside of the same kelp room that she slithered into and I not only hear but, feel a loud croak. A croak so loud I can feel the vibrations in my chest! My adrenaline is through the roof! “She's here and she's close!” I think to myself. I look everywhere, up, down, gazing through windows of kelp but, she is invisible. I push my breath hold and surface on the edge of the "highway" close to the kelp without seeing her. Any noise that I make sounds amplified and I do my best to be as silent as possible. To my amazement, on my next breath up, a WSB appears under me once again! I'll always wonder if it was the same fish. Slowly and quietly I duck dive to twenty feet and line my SeaSniper 130 at the top of the fishes head and pull the trigger. This time I don't hesitate. I know this is a nice WSB! As soon as I see the shaft penetrate I know it's a solid shot and she is hurt! She immediately rips 75 feet of float line through the thickest area of kelp and then everything stops! She's tied up! I constantly feel the slightest of tugs so I know she's still on. It takes me about five dives to find her tied up vertically in a mass of kelp at 50 feet and I go to work. I grab her underneath her gills to bleed her and the first thought that runs through my head is; Noah is going to kill me!!! I know he doesn't have a fish on board yet and it's his boat. "I can't wait to see his face", I think to myself! In actuality he's going to be stoked but, some friendly shit talking competition is never a bad thing,


Freeing this WSB from the jungle of kelp that she was tangled in took me an embarrassing amount of time due to my dull knife but, also to my adrenaline. I couldn't get a solid breath hold to save my life! I end up cutting my shooting line and dragging her to the surface just as Noah is hopping onto the boat. I pick the fish up out of the water and yell to Noah in a not so manly, high pitch shout showing him what I had. To be honest he didn't look thrilled but, I knew he was. I know the feeling. I've been that guy that hunted all day and didn't have a fish to show for it and, then my buddy throws a big fish on the boat. We've all been there! Its fishing and it's not easy and it's mostly luck! Before I'm out of the kelp bed with the Sea Bass, Noah is in the water snapping pictures with his camera. My mind is racing and this day does not seem real. I can't believe I'm holding this fish! I can't believe the order of events that led up to this surreal moment! In an instant we are back on the boat celebrating but, as soon as the celebration began it ended. Noah needed a WSB and he didn't have much time to get it before dark! We dropped anchor at a kelp bed just north of where I took my fish. He was in the water faster than normal. Our friendly competition is underway! Noah just happens to be the fishiest guy I know and he's unloaded countless fish, including WSB at my feet as I've stood there skunked and in total awe. We have shot some insane fish and been on some incredible trips together but, I'm not going to lie to anyone and say that I didn't love every minute of the tables being turned in my favor, if only for a few minutes. Though, to be honest I wanted him to shoot a fish this trip even if I didn't. Having a boat is expensive and stressful and without the invites I receive from him I wouldn't have the memories or the fish pictures I have today!


      Within thirty minutes of his dive, Noah is kicking back to the boat. He was a ways away and the sun was going down so I didn't think much of it. He gets to within twenty feet of the boat and I see the telltale white belly of a WSB hanging from his left side! I proceed to jump around in excitement like an idiot, yelling "I can't believe it, I can't F-ing Believe it!" I jump into the water and I take some underwater photos of him and his beautiful fish and before I know it we are back on the boat trying to comprehend how these last two hours happened! Two beautiful WSB, both between 40 and 50 pounds on the boat within the last two hours of daylight! "So now what?" Both of us say to one another contemplating our next plan of action. We told our wives that we would head home if both of us shot a WSB on the first day. There's maybe an hour left of sunlight and it's only Wednesday and there's always a possibility of a Yellowtail! Maybe we dove for Yellowtail but, then again maybe we didn't, our wives will never know! Either way, we cross the channel from Catalina to Dana point that night, watching the sun set behind us, telling fish stories and still trying to wrap our heads around how this trip even happened but, I know how it happened. Noah made it possible. Just like so many of my fish stories before this beautiful WSB. He invites me on these trips and gives me an opportunity to shoot fish that without him I could only dream of. As I sit back writing this article I can only imagine what future fish stories are going to unfold. Who are we going to meet? Where are we going to go? What fish will we see? We have some insane stories already and they just keep getting better. Year after year we learn new things regarding this sport, our hunting techniques grow, we become better, safer free divers and we continue to dive better together.


   Out of every fish that I've been fortunate enough to land over the years, this fish was the hardest to cut into and process. I know this sounds corny but, part of me didn't want this "moment" to end. I've put this fish on such a high pedestal, since I started spearfishing, that this "moment" of filleting felt like the end to my WSB story and, in a way it was. I'll never have another first White Seabass. I may never land  another WSB but, if I do I hope I'm as passionate about that fish as I am right now about my first. That's why this sport is so addicting. We crave those "moments" and sometimes it takes YEARS to fulfill them. Think back for a moment about your most memorable fish. The memories you're having right now are the driving force behind your passion for your next trip, your next fish, and your next moment. It's an amazing feeling, isn't it? Passion is the only word that adequately describes my feelings for this sport. I think about it while I'm at work. I dream about it when I sleep and, come to think of it, passion for spearfishing is the reason I'm writing this, it's the reason you're reading it and, it's why Spearing Magazine even exists! "WE" are so passionate about this amazing sport that it becomes a part of us and we feed off of each other's stories, just waiting for our next moment.


     By the time I started writing this article my wife and I and Noah's family already had numerous meals from our fish and we have many more to eat. We've already told our fish stories too many times and fed numerous friends fillets from a species of fish they've never even heard of. Its old news now but, I don't want to let this moment end. I'll never forget this trip and I'll never forget these fish. I hope my words and pictures do these two beautiful WSB justice.

bottom of page