Five of us went kayak diving on our favorite opening nite spot off the coast of Ventura county on Friday, September 29, 2000. Doug Paterson and I got 7 bugs each, including the three big ones in the picture! Dave Schrock, Dave Heinrichs, and Marc Doerner each got 5.

A few minutes after I caught my first small one I saw the 8.5 pounder. Of course, it looked like 15 pounds under the water! I remember thinking, "I'm going to grab this thing?" Yep, that's what I was there for... Had no choice, had to do it! I let the flashlights go from each hand and pinned the bug to the sand. At one point I was sure I wasn't going to be able to hold onto it. As he was flipping and flopping in my grasp, I managed to get my deadly finger-lock on the horns and then I knew I had him. I thought I was quite a ways from my kayak so I spent 10 minutes and 500 psi of air stuffing the monster into my yellow bag. Meanwhile, I was drifting along with the current and had NO idea where I was by the time I got it in the bag. As soon as I closed the bag and looked down, there was the 6.5 pounder. Piece of cake compared to the big guy! I grabbed him and headed to the surface. I surfaced 5 feet from my kayak! What luck!!! I threw the loose one in, got out of my tank, got aboard and proceeded to get the big one out of my bag. Just then, Dave Heinrichs surfaces near the rocks. He is laughing and yelling, "I can't fit anymore bugs in my bag!" He swims out, boards his kayak, and empties his bag into his kayak and we take off to get 3 or 4 more each. What a nite! Calm, warm, flat, 10-20' vis! No swell or surge.

On our way back in early Saturday morning we checked in with Ralph just finishing his first dive on the inside. He had gotten one bug so far. We told him to go outside and left him to his misery. A few days later he told me that he did go outside and only got one more bug - two tanks, two bugs. He definitely needs to work on that ratio!

Fish & Game greeted us as we returned to our launch point to 'help' make sure we were all playing by the rules. They took all our lobsters (except the obvious big ones) aboard to measure and count. Before I got there, they had dumped Dave's lobster on the deck of their boat and failed to put one back. Then, my turn. The warden doing the counting turned out to be as careless as he was young! He watched and counted with me as I put 4 bugs in my bag and hand it to him. He measured the 4 bugs and put them back into my bag, then noticed one more still on the deck of his boat. He tried to say I must have given him 5 to measure and was over limit! I told him he was WRONG! and that bug belonged to one of the other divers in our group. Sure enough, Dave came back, recounted, and found he was now one short. It makes me mad to think how his carelessness could have ruined my whole night!!! Oh well, all's well that ends well!

On the following Sunday night, Doug, Dave S. and I went out to the same spot again and got 6, 5, and 5, respectively. The conditions on Sunday night were quite different... Great vis - as good or better than Friday night/Sat morning but cooler, windy, choppy, and a 2' swell. Still, more fun than should be legal!

Oh yeah... Doug's 8 pounder looks bigger, but the center one is half a pound heavier!


Sunday, October 12, 2003, in Carpinteria...
It was THE WORST dive, for visibility, that I ever did; zero to 24 inches.
After kicking around for ten minutes I said to myself, "this is just nuts"
and I grabbed my BC inflator to put some air in and quit the dive.
Just as I was about to inflate it, I saw this bug.
It's way bigger than the 9 pounder I got a few years ago,
so I am guessing it's nearly 11 pounds.

Yes, that's an 80 cubic foot aluminum tank!