Where it all started...
Campus By the Sea, Santa Catalina Island, California.
When I moved to the island at age 21, I was young and figuring out life. What did it mean to be an adult? What did it mean to be in charge of myself? What did it mean to work hard for something you want?
That journey began here, and it included a speargun from Sport Chalet, Terry Maas' book Blue Water Hunting and Freediving, and tattered, used snorkeling equipment.
It didn't take long to secure the first fish that I was truly proud of- a Calico Bass that weighed in just over 6 pounds. That was the moment that pulled me into this sport with no compromise. I had discovered the most selective way to put fish on the table. With it, I found a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of tapping into the human nature of hunting for survival.
Passion turned to obsession
It didn't take long for the SoCal coastal fishery's possibilities to hook me. What I wanted the most was to spear a Yellowtail. Catching them by rod and reel had always been a highlight of childhood fishing trips. Among fishermen, this species is revered for the excitement of the fight and great eating.
My first, but not my last...
I landed my first Yellowtail spearfishing after a series of heart breaking failures. Shooting and landing the fish represented the achievement of a major goal, but also the opening of a new world for me.
Diving For A Cause
Where can I even start!
The organization Diving For A Cause was founded by Colleen Gallagher with the goal of allowing people to travel the world; spear fish that make dreams come true; and give back to the local communities around fishing spots.
DFAC has had such a phenomenal impact on my career as a spearfisherman as well as who I am as a person.
As my passion for spearfishing grew, I began to set my sights on shooting fish in places around the world. There is so much ocean, and I wanted to experience as much of it as possible! DFAC really helped this dream take off.
My first destination with DFAC was La Ventana, Baja California, Mexico. Hunting fish here was an extraordinarily new experience. New species, new reef structure, new hunting techniques - even with familiar fish. I quickly became addicted to finding new places to hunt and gain more experience in this sport.
When you travel with Diving For A Cause, its about more than just shooting fish and bringing those memories home. We had the opportunity to invest in an orphanage in the neighboring city of La Paz in a few ways: first, by spending time with kids; and second, by donating our fish to the orphanage kitchen.
Having enjoyed harvesting natural resources from this community, it was a real gift to be able to give something back. The highlight was getting to work with kids from the orphanage on swimming and snorkeling skills, hopefully sparking the same love for the ocean which inspired us to be there in the first place.
Eventually, I got the opportunity to dive with the legend who taught me most of what I knew about spearfishing.
Dr. Terry Maas is actively involved with Diving For A Cause, and I was ecstatic for the chance to spend time with him both on land and underwater during a group trip to Panama.
Not only was I able to shoot my first Yellowfin Tuna on this trip, but Terry was there to coach me through landing it, as well as photo document it. A dream!
Following these two transformative trips, I continued to travel and target amazing fish. My focus has always been enjoying the hunt - along with sustainability in any fishery I take part in.
The drive I had for landing Yellowtail, however, never diminished.
In 2019 I was able to travel with DFAC to New Zealand with the goal of hunting large Yellowtail (known as Kingfish in that region of the world). It did not disappoint. Exploring new reefs, hunting new fish, and a close encounter with a large Mako Shark made this one of my favorite places to hunt.
The 33 kilogram (73 pound) Kingy, however, was the absolute pinnacle of my time in the water. I finally was able to hunt Yellowtail that would challenge my skill and stamina as a spearfisher.
To this day the Kingfish remains my most memorable catch, and the fish I most look forward to targeting in the future.
Spearfishing wasn't the only underwater activity that had my heart. I became certified as an FII Level 1 instructor in 2013, and after years of teaching this course I set my sights on becoming a more well-rounded instructor. I started to pursue becoming a Level 2 instructor.
Through the training process to teach people about freediving physics and physiology on a much deeper scale, I quickly became addicted to training and improving in my depth and breath hold.
Before I began training, deep diving not only seemed useless in California, but also near impossible in the cold, murky water! The requirement to achieve Level 2 instructor was a perfect 40m/132ft dive, and that was as deep as I wanted to go. That is, until diving deeper began to become more relaxing and enjoyable.
In 2019 I participated in my first freediving competition.
My training in California had taken me to depths I never thought I'd want to hit, let alone enjoy. Now I wanted to experience the same depths with a little added pressure.
During the competition I set a new personal best of 53 meters/174 feet in the free immersion discipline, as well as 35 meters/115 feet in the no fins discipline. As this was the first time I had ever tried diving with no fins I was quite happy with that. My addiction only grew from there and I continued training in California after I returned home.
With a few bumps in the road I successfully started hitting 60 meters/198 feet in Cali waters, and have a personal best of 63 meters/207 feet. I continue to train and learn more about myself and the sport of freediving.
Spearfishing AND Freediving
Depth training has led me to some great realizations about how increased relaxation at depth improves my approach to hunting fish.
With a newfound enjoyment of diving deep, and doing so comfortably, I have been able to hone my hunting technique in a way I never expected.
One of the benefits of my depth training has been the ability to hunt fish with a polespear both enjoyably and successfully. The polespear makes the interaction much more personal and much more complex. I find that the successes are that much sweeter. A love for the hunt was rekindled for me, and my appreciation for the animal that I hunt continues to grow.
And now, here we are.
Where will YOUR story with freediving and spearfishing take you?
Take a look through the courses and coaching that I offer, and let's talk about how I can support you along your own amazing journey.