Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Florida Spearfishing Tour with Speared

I have just got back from one heck of an adventure in Florida USA. The trip was initiated by the Blue Wild Expo, in Fort Lauderdale. I figured that I was traveling around the globe to get there so I would stay on for 2 weeks and try meet up with some people and get to see the place.
As the trip drew near I still had not organized anything sold as far as plans went for after the show, but figured I would meet some people along the way I could bum a couch to sleep on.

The trip actually started in Mozambique where I was taking a great bunch of Brazilians diving for a week. It was a great week of diving and the guys got some great fish. But that’s a story for another day. Anyway I left Mozambique with my half wet dive gear and some blue water MAMBA spearguns I had been testing. (Was going to find out fast that they were the wrong things for Florida)
 
Beers n Spears with MJK and Jose Debasa
I landed in Miami the eve before the show and went straight from the airport jetlagged and all to the Head Hunters ‘Beers n Spears’ warm up party. Being so tired, I probably would have given it a skip, but Brad had included a compilation of MJK’s latest videos that we had just finished.

Here 2 of the 3 videos if you have not seen them yet.

I crashed at Sheri Daye’s house that night and met some cool guys that were helping her with the show. Staying with Sheri meant that each day I got to the show early to help out (just a little) and get to have a look at the ‘behind the scenes’ of the show. It also gave me the privilege to watch Sheri, one of the most amazing woman I have ever met do her thing. She juggled so many balls at once during the show and dealt with every thing with the most amazing grace and integrity. I have always been in awe of Sheri and her diving achievements and now even more so. Sheri is officially one of my favorite peoples on the planet.
Sheri in her 'Wo-Man Cave' that would make any Spearo Jealous.

The Blue Wild was epic; I actually needed at least another day to see everything. It seemed like every few steps I would bump into someone I knew or had met via social media or email. I made so many new friends and got introduced to so many awesome people at the show. From legends like Daryl Wong to kids just starting out in spearfishing, it was just plain insane.

Mr Timmy Knight fixing a hangover in the Speared Apparel booth.
It was however bumping into Aaron Chasse and Timmy Knight at the Speared booth that would set the direction for the rest of my trip to the USA and what was to become known as the ‘Florida Tour’
Checking out the HeadHunter stand.
It all started while I was minding my own business at Brad Thornbrough’s Head Hunter stand. I hear from across the way an Aussie trying to pull off a South African accent calling out, “I can’t believe it, I stoned it with a reelgun”. It was none other than the infamous Timmy Knight. 
A very long colorful story made short, Tim was over there as part of the Speared team and was also wanting to spend some time traveling and spearfishing around the states. Aaron the owner of Speared had put a few things together for Tim with all the Spearheads crew and other mates around Florida. Next thing I know I had ‘cracked the nod’ and joining their adventure, and one crazy rollercoaster ride of an adventure it was.
My first Florida dive experience with Timmy, Nolan and Ben
First stop was meeting up with Ben Maxwell who had organized and trip out of St Pete. Nolan Sadorf was also part of the crew so there was no shortage of diving talent on the boat. We dove the wrecks looking for Mangrove Snapper, but there were loads of Amberjack around as well. I soon realized that the MAMBA guns I had bought were way too much for trying to shoot the small Mangrove’s in the wrecks. So I spent my day diving around the outsides of the wrecks looking for fish big enough for my mini canon.
Me finding a King Mack and Aaron with a sneaky Amberjack
This landed me up shooting a King Mackerel as my first fish in the USA. It was a good fish of about 15kg and although it is a different species to our Spanish Mackerel it looks almost identical. It’s ironic that I travel half way around the world and land up shooting a ‘Couta’ as my first fish.
Ben knows how to get the job done.
Timmy was not going to be out done and caught some good Mangrove Snapper and Aaron topped it off with a solid Amberjack that hung around a little too long after the guys had shot some snapper at the one wreck. Ben and Nolan however had the place wired and seemed to be loading the fish onto the boat every time looked up.

David - Timmy- myself - Chad - Cheyenne - Justin Baker
Next stop was West Palm to dive with the Chad, David and Cheyenne Lee in the Stuart Sandbar area. Justin Baker another one of the Speared crew also joined us.
We started out going to look for Cobia with the Bull Sharks, but as it was coming to the end of the Cobia season all we saw was loads of Bulls. It was great diving with so many sharks, it made me feel like I was at home J

Justin, Chad and David showing us how it is done.
The days diving was fairly quiet, but the David, Chad and Justin showed their local knowledge and showed both Timmy and I up getting great fish. It was truly impressive watching the Lee brothers who are still in there teens. The were super strong in the water, pulling solid dives. But the most impressive thing was to see how safe they dived. Not once did they dive with out making sure that there was some one watching. And they never turned to swim away with out watching that person surface. On top of that their dad who drove that boat that day knew where every one was all the time and just had the whole day under control. These guys made me seriously rethink how I do things.
Cheyenne - Don't be fooled by her good looks, she kicks ass. 
Timmy did'nt shoot any fish either so he tried to catch a Mermaid..
Another shocker was Cheyenne the Lee bros older sister, who also came along to dive. I had to have a double take more than once watching her dive, and that’s not just because she is really attractive. She was diving just as good as all the boys, and you could see she knew exactly what she was doing. The level of these kids diving is crazy good; they are as Aaron coined, “the real deal”. I don’t know any guys, and girls this young who’s diving is mature as these guys. They are definitely guys you want to be watching.
Brad hooking us up with pole spears. Timmy had to have a bigger one than me.
It was then all the way back to West palm, to meet up with Michael Dornellas to go dive the Bahamas. We made a quick stop at Headhunter and Brad hooked us up with some pole spears, as this is all you can use in the Bahamas. Super pumped to try my hand at the pole spear we headed out on the 38ft Jupiter with 3x300hp, probably the nicest boat I have been on.
This how we roll .... with a dumb smerk :-)
Michael is a super fun guy blasting the tunes there and back making a party out of every moment.
We dived a few spots, but there just weren’t any decent fish around. I managed to get 3 small Cero Mackerels (I know…. I am shooting the mackerels again!!!) While Timmy Picked off some nice Hogfish.
Timmy goes Hogfish 
With the fishing a bit slow we headed over to Tiger Beach to check out the sharks. There seemed to be a few fish on the edge of the spot and I eventually got a half decent Hogfish, to tick the box. The pole spearing was super fun but the Tiger Sharks came in and the poles spears got swapped with cameras. Michael has a kick ass Sony A7s in a Nauticam housing that I was coveting, so I let Michael dive and play with the Tigers while got to film with the camera.

Michael has been doing these trips for a while and really understands these beautiful creatures. Normally his time is spent ensuring the safety of his clients, but Timmy, Aaron and myself being experienced divers he felt more relaxed to just spend time with his big ‘kitty kat’ friends. Watching Michael is really inspiring so Timmy and I were both keen to get up close and personal with the sharks as well. Timmy with the careful instruction by Michael had some great encounters with the sharks, and after a few approaches got the timing perfect and got to dance with one.

Here is the short film Michael put together including the footage I shot of him that day.


It was my turn next. Its hard not to feel a little nervous approaching such a massive animal that has the potential to chop you in half if it felt like it. But having swam with them for more than an hour and watching Michael and Tim I felt confident that if I kept my cool it would be all-good. The hard part is timing your approach. The Tiger needs to be right on the chum basket, you then need to get up to the shark. The goal is to hold onto its nose, but with out restricting or controlling it. You just have to go with it and let it feel comfortable, something I did not get right in the beginning and I had a few that got feisty with me. (Go watch the ‘ball slap’ clip…. Too funny) Tiger Slap - Click Here
I had a few great moments with them, and it’s amazing how they let you into there space and even come back for more.
 
Our first fish on pole spears.
We were about to call it a day when I see Tim fetch his pole spear and smack a brutt of an Amberjack. I though the horde of sharks would annihilate the fish, but they just kept cruising around. Not to be out done by Tim, no there was absolutely no competition between Tim and I… really, I fetched my pole spear. I watched as a big Amberjack pulled in, the thought going through my head was, “if this Predator Headhunter pole spear and get through this fish I will be able to shoot some good fish at home”. I loaded up the pole as I dived down and did not stop until I was real close to the Amberjack. I tried for the MJK stone shot, and thought I got it. Not quiet dead the Amberjack still had some go and was difficult to man handle to the surface. I did not want to let the fish down to the sharks so I held on for a good few head dunks.
A magic moment getting to tummy rub a Tiger. Pic: Michael Dornellas
Tiger Beach was one of the highlights of the trip, a truly amazing experience and one I wont forget. Next up was a long drive through the night to Key West for the opening of grouper season with Aj Hally and his friends; Brandon, Robert Allen, Jeremy. Nolan joined us for the ride so all in all there 8 divers. I don’t think the grouper knew what to expect. This day was another learning curve for both Tim and I. We did not know what fish we were allowed to shoot and what was considered a good size. We were using chum to bring the fish in and the first guys to pick a fish landed up getting the fish before they ducked for cover.
I hesitated far too many times and passed up so many good opportunities it was frightening. Long story short I missed out and did not even pull the trigger. Timmy was a bit shaper and after also passing up a whole bunch of fish committed to shooting the first fish he saw on the last spot and nailed a good Black grouper.

All the boys with there opening season Groupers.
It was a great grouper-opening day and the boys were amped to celebrate. Aaron and Nolan had to get back so Timmy and I stayed on to experience the nightlife of Key West. The local boys showed us a great time on the town, which paid severely for the next day.
The Key West boys showing us a good time. 
Our last stop was back to Miami to meet up with Jose Debasa for a last few days and do one last dive before heading home.  My ear was playing up after all the diving, so I just bukkied (boat boy) for the day. Jose took us to some of his home spots looking for grouper and Mangroves. The weather wasn’t the greatest and the current was strong but Jose & JD got a few fish.
Jose and JD scratching a few fish together.
The Florida tour with the Speared Apparel crew was epic, so many good vibes & good times. I never thought I would land up seeing so much & getting so much done. I met so many great people, who were so welcoming and went out of their way to make our trip so special. For that I am very grateful and hope one day to be able to return the favors.

Another great blessing that came from hanging with the Speared crew was being asked to be part of the Speared Apparel crew. I am honored to be a brand ambassador for them and excited for all the good vibes ahead. So from now on you will be seeing me sporting some super cool Speared threads.

Big thanks again to all who made the Florida tour epic. Especially Janelle Chasse for lending Aaron to Timmy & I for so long.

Cheers & "Good Vibes All Round"
Coatesman

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Ascension Island Spearfishing - Hand Feeding Giant Tuna

Giant tuna hand feeding on Ascension Island
Hand Feeding Giant Tuna - Ascension Island Spearfishing
Ascension Island is a crazy special place to spearfish. Giant Yellowfin tuna are in abundance and you can with lots of patience and burly get them to eat out of your hand.
Some of this video footage from Ascension that does not make the cut in the films is ridiculous!! @mjkqatar having fun with some tunas at Ascension Island. Looking forward to getting back there later this year.

Check out Spearfishing Ascension Island page on coatesmans.com if you want to join me ... and do some of this!

Coatesman





Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jessie Cripps 6 Tips to Take Your UnderWater Photography To The Next Level

I am doing a few co-labs with some like minded spearo's out there and have the opportunity to share some great and informative content. Here is a great article by Jessie Cripps on underwater photography and spearfishing with a GoPro. .... Enjoy
underwater ally Productions

Whether you are filming a video for your friends and family or taking pictures for a magazine story, these photography tips from Jessie Cripps at Underwater Ally Productions could take your photography to the next level.

  1. Always have your back to the sun unless you are going for a silhouette photo or something similar. You will be rewarded with more vibrant colours.
  2. Get closer – Why? Because you will lose quality if you take your shot farther afield and try to crop later. Getting closer to your subject will also capture the highest possible image resolution. This is also doubly true underwater as water will reduce the sharpness of your subject particularly in poor vis.
  3. Buy a wide angle lens. This will give you a greater field of vision. To learn more about using a wide angle lens check out this article by Scott Geitler 
    #however using a wide angle Gopro lens, some spearo's advise that this makes targeted fish appear smaller and more difficult to see in footage.
  4. Spend the time to get your shot in focus. You can't fix poorly focused images on the computer. Using your camera in manual and learning the focus settings on your camera will consistently improve your photos. Beware of losing the point of this cliche "practice makes perfect" - every photography blog, book or article will all stress the need for practice. Take note of the variables, learn to break down the elements of a good underwater photo and hone your skills and knowledge.
  5. Slow and steady. Settle, get the shot. Count it loud in our head a you take the shot.
  6. Get to know your camera, practice and play around with it.

Dog Tooth Tuna Picture

Takka's and Jessie's GoPro Tips


  1. Before you turn the camera off on the way up from a dive, give a thumbs up if the footage is good, thumbs down if it's poor or a shaky palm if there is potentially something useful on there. This saves miles of time in the editing stage.
  2. Don't buy second hand GoPros. In our interview with Jessie & Takka several (funny) stories justify this advice - Noob Spearo Interview
  3. Use the 1 button mode. This makes for ease of use for spearfishing.
    1. Pinch the head. 
    2. Listen for the beep. 
    3. On the way up just hold the button until it turns off.
  4. Get the head mounted camera level by asking a mate if it's level. Alternatively, Use your palm on the mask to make sure the lens is aligned or use fingers underneath the camera to measure where it needs to be oriented (practice).
Jessie Cripps

Couple of other points; F-Stop - The lower the number the faster the lens, Very short shutter speeds can be used to freeze fast-moving subjects such as action shots spearfishing however light becomes a complication.
Learning the lighting, composition, camera settings and subject selection for spearfishing will take time. The good news is that our spearfishing photography world needs more photo-graphical impresarios and you could join the company of some of our sports best.

Jessie Cripps Photography

Follow Jessie Cripps Here https://www.instagram.com/jessie_cripps/
or Michael Takach Here https://www.instagram.com/michaeltakach/ 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Introducing Mr Manta

Mr Manta ... or Mrs Manta How do you tell the difference?
via Instagram http://ift.tt/1Ts44VF