Spearfishing: A TRUE 'Fellas' Excursion
The following story is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent…and the guilty!
Our friend Mark had put fishing trips together for us, and on this occasion, he organized an awesome expedition to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In the process of scheduling the trip, he threw out the idea of spearfishing. It was something that was possible, even a bit outlandish, but we were not sure it would be worth taking a whole day off our charter.
So, the spearfishing idea was dropped, at least for that moment. What follows is the absolutely true tale of how our spearfishing endeavor came about and became an adventure none of us will ever forget.
The Fab Five
Originally, there were five ‘fellas’ scheduled for the trip. But sadly, just a day before we were supposed to embark, one fella, had to cancel to handle a family situation. The entire trip was almost canceled, but ‘Freddie’ didn’t want us to cancel because of him. It was a tough decision, but we eventually decided to make the trip without him. We were off to an unfortunate start.
Down to four.
When the ‘Fantastic Four’ arrived, Cabo was everything we could have asked for. Gentle breezes, a great location overlooking the water, and friendly helpful staff taking care of us at the fabulous resort. No ‘negative waves’, just positive vibes everywhere.
Day one on the water was a beautiful, calm, sunny day for fishing. During some of the downtime when searching for some mahi/dorado offshore near Cabo, Mexico, the idea of spearfishing was discussed again.
With jovial banter, we kept talking about all the ludicrous things we would do wrong, but there was an air of intrigue. The idea of trying something new, exciting, and challenging sounded a bit crazy, but we were here and had seen a spearfishing shop at the marina.
While trolling along, our captain overheard our conversation, and with a wry smile said, that he could recommend a place that could hook us up on a half-day spearfishing trip. REALLY!!!
SAY NO MORE. We were IN! Instead of just fishing ON the water, we would try our hand at fishing IN the water. Maybe our decision was influenced by a few Pacifico cervezas we drank on the way back to the marina. Spearfishing was on and the banter jumped to the highest level.
As we got closer to the marina, we got a visit from a little friend. LITTLE? There was a huge seal following behind the boat. Our captain said, “Open the door, and he will come in”. Sure enough, as we opened the back door of the boat, this fine monster of a seal came aboard and posed for a picture.
After getting a few pics with our new buddy, we fed him some of our bait and talked about our day. He thanked us for the snack and would return each day when we headed back to shore. That was an unexpected thrill, but the captain said was common when heading back in. Later, back at the dock, we booked our spearfishing trip for the next morning.
That night over dinner we were pumped about our meeting with our pal Mr. Seal, and poking fun at each other about our upcoming spearfishing episode. We joked that we probably would not ‘catch’ anything, but if we didn’t shoot each other, it would be a good day. We were setting the bar pretty darn high, but no matter, the next day it was going to be ON!!
Morning came, and we rose early to get in a decent breakfast before heading out for our foray into the unknown. It only took a few minutes for us to realize that not everyone would be going on our journey.
One member of our team, who shall be named ‘George’, had fallen prey to a fairly common issue folks run into when in Mexico…the dreaded stomach ‘ailment’. We won’t go into detail but needless to say, we were now down another man. Hmmm, not a good omen to start the day.
Down to three.
With the loss of George, the three amigos, Mark, Don, and Eric, would be left to try and win the battle of man versus fish. Driving to the marina, we thought, depending on how things went, we would come back as spearfishing legends or as The Three Stooges.
Arriving at the shop at the marina, we were fitted with our wetsuits, (thank goodness mine had a lot of STRETCH to it). Went through a safety lesson, were shown how to safely operate our spears, then off to the boat we went.
With the thrill of a great day ahead, we were like little children on Christmas Eve with visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads. Only our visions were of the fish we would be bringing back. How many fish would we snag? What kind of fish would we nab? Largest fish? Most species? Yes, the wagers were flying.
The weather was not tooooo bad, but certainly was not the perfect warm, calm, sunny day we had hoped for. It had stormed during the night and early that morning. It was still overcast, and a bit windy, resulting in a choppy trip as we hit the open water.
Due to the foul weather, the unsettled water was not good for visibility either, something that would provide even more of a challenge. Then there was the water temperature. Surprisingly, even in the wet suit, the water was a bit…chilly. (Actually, it was freaking cold!!!!!)
Nonetheless, with our excitement, and determination levels high, we were ready to push through any and all obstacles. As our captain dropped anchor. We changed into our battle gear: wet suit, snorkel, goggles, and fins.
Per our captain, we were going to first jump in without the spear, to get used to floating in the aquatic environment in our gear. So, the three brave ‘stooges’…errr, spear fishermen, entered the water. What we found was that the water was much rougher than anticipated, and after moving around a bit, practicing our floating, etc., we were called back to the boat for our spears.
That is when we lost another member of our team. No, we did not shoot each other, at least not yet. The unusually choppy water, with the fairly strong current, was a bit much for Don. He decided that his wife and children would never forgive him if he never came back from Cabo. Don would remain on the boat for the duration of the day.
Down to two!!
We looked on the bright side, the odds of spearing one of us were now almost nil, (of course by now our captain and guide were wondering about the group they had taken out).
Mark and Eric hit the water spear in hand, and our guide joined us on our trek. The hunt had begun! Note that, our spears had the safety on so we would not accidentally shoot someone or something.
One thought did come to mind…would it be worse to shoot the guide or each other? Not to worry, we are tough aquatic thrill-seekers!!!!
In the water, we drifted, face down, flippered with our legs just a bit, and waited. After a few minutes, we surfaced, went back to the boat, and got some further instructions on how to move about the water more efficiently and safely. OK, GOT IT!!!
We got ready to head back away from the boat and Mark casually mentions that he is a bit chilly in the water. No matter... the guide, Mark, and Eric are once again on the prowl for our catch.
This time, as our guide recommended, I practiced shooting my spear, and reloading it, while in the water. Each time making sure I could, fire, reload and set the safety, as instructed. OK, we are now ready.
As we continued to float, our guide began diving deeper into the water holding his breath. He swam/dove down to the ocean floor holding his breath for over two minutes looking for fish before he resurfaced. He said that was the way we should do it if we wanted to get a good size fish.
I tried practicing diving down deeper into the water, but I must be pretty buoyant. Never got any deeper than 5 or 10 feet. As I resurfaced, I noticed that Mark was no longer in the water.
I figured, he was either shark bait, met a mermaid, or went back to the boat for further instructions. I saw no blood in the water, still not sure if mermaids are real, so I figured it was the latter.
Continuing the search for potential prey, finally, I saw a group of fish, not a school, just a few swimming slowly by. One had strayed away from the group and seemed interested in the big black blob known as ME. This curious fish hung out close by, checking me out.
This was my chance, my moment of glory. Slowly, I lifted my spear and tracked its path. Then…fired! And fired! COME ON, FIRE! Stupid spear!!! But nothing happened. OMG…the safety was still on, so it never fired!!! STUPID ME!!
If I was in a duel, I would have been shot dead! Thankfully, the fish was unarmed. And to be fair, it was not a huge fish. But darn it, it was right there…my big chance and I blew it.
I reloaded, and with unceasing conviction continued on. Unfortunately, I was probably a bit too anxious after my ‘safety on’ incident. All subsequent efforts were misses. Some barely, some not even close. Frustrated, I decided to resurface and eventually headed back to the boat.
Once back at the boat, Mark was sitting on deck. His face was pale. He had a blanket wrapped around him, and he was shivering. This did not look good. Don shook his head saying that Mark was not doing well.
It turns out that Mark somehow had a faulty snorkel and had ingested a good bit of sea water. As a result, Mark's trip took an unfortunate turn. Showing my obvious concern, I asked if I could go back into the water for a final dive. I got approval from the fellas and the crew, but alas, was ‘flying solo’.
Down to one.
Making the last dive with the guide we knew we had to come back with something. The sharpshooting guide did manage to nab a mackerel, but I essentially struck out. When we got back to the boat, the guide let me hold the mackerel as if I was a great marksman. But the reality is, the three amigos got skunked and the fourth amigo was back at the hotel, ordering more toilet paper from room service.
The captain and the mate were going to enjoy a fine mackerel dinner, while we headed back to shore empty-handed, with Mark shaking the whole ride back to the marina.
Once on solid ground, we knew we had to get Mark some meds. Next stop ‘La Pharmacia’. Funny thing about Mexico…you don’t need a prescription to get antibiotics, just walk in and ask for some.
After picking up a few recommended medications, we thought we were done, but…while checking out, the ‘pharmacist’ asked if we would like some Viagra. Why, how thoughtful!! Seems they had a special going on for Viagra. One-stop shopping at its best, but we passed on the offer.
Back at the hotel, Mark took the various antibiotics and hit the sack. Our friend George, listened to our adventure and was glad he had not ventured out.
Later that same evening, George, who amazingly seemed recovered, Don, and Eric went out for an authentic Mexican dinner as Mark slept. While eating our incredible meal, three musical balladeers came to our table and asked if they could play us a song. We couldn’t pass this up!
George suggested ‘Black Magic Woman’. We thought…that was crazy, no way these fine gentlemen could play that. But once again, as we had been so many times before on this trip, we were wrong.
The three balladeers gave a rousing rendition and the entire restaurant applauded wildly. We appreciated that song, especially after the day we had been through.
For the next few days, the three amigos fished ON a boat, without Mark, but we certainly missed our friend and leader. Mark did manage to get out of bed and meet us for dinner on our last evening. Throwing caution into the wind, he even had a tiny bit of food with a cold cerveza, and we toasted to a wild, wacky trip.
This may seem like a sad tale, but actually, we look back and laugh at the series of unfortunate events that made up our spearfishing escapade. Even though we came up empty-handed spearfishing, our journey had been a success, as we did nab a few dorado, sailfish, some fine antibiotics, and, maybe most importantly for George, lots of TP!!!
Putting it all into perspective, our spearfishing experience didn’t go as planned, but we were still glad we gave our best. And we did accomplish one important goal. We never shot each other. That may have been the biggest surprise of all.