View Full Version : The Running of the Bulls - AKA Grouper story

No Misses
02-15-2008, 13:50
Gather ‘round children. No Misses has another fish story to tell.

This is just a little bit of background information that I want to get out of the way before the story starts:
I had frozen my butt off during dive #1. While the water temp was 74 on the surface, it dropped to 63 below the thermocline. This is way too cold for the 3 mil wetsuit that I was wearing. Call me a wimp, but after 15 minutes at this temperature, I was shivering and starting to loose coordination. I should also throw in the fact that I had cracked a rib that morning (bonehead move – don’t ask).

Dive #2: This is where things got interesting. I dropped in on the XXXX Reef (location withheld). The visibility was in the 30’ range. When I hit the top of the reef at 65 fsw, I was greeted with the sight of an old limestone ledge with a 10’ drop to the sand. Over time, this ledge had been undercut and large “car size” chunks had broken off and were now providing a very interesting landscape. There were a thousand places for groupers to lay in wait, in order to ambush their prey. As soon as I dropped over the edge, I hit the thermocline. It was like having a bucket of ice water thrown in my face. It didn’t take too many excursions below the lip to convince me that I should be hunting from the top of the ledge. As I made my way south, I encountered a school of several hundred reef fish. There were sheepshead, grunts, yellowtails, mango’s, etc. None of them seemed to care as I swam among them. Suddenly they all turned east and headed up onto the reef. There was something out there in the murk that they didn’t like. Could it be a large grouper? I could not see anything. Whatever it was, it was gone now. The reef fish returned to their normal activities. I moved on down the reef. It had been 15 minutes since I splashed in. I was starting to shiver from the cold. I decided to swim back to the area where I had seen so much life. I figured that I would hunt there for another 5 minutes and then head for the surface where the sun would warm my bones. I had backtracked less than 10 feet when I noticed a gray shadow. I could not make it out at first. Was it a jack or something better? As I closed the distance to roughly 25 feet, I knew what it was. It was a gag grouper and it was broadside to me! I kicked hard and pulled the trigger. It was a good shot. The spear was 2 inches behind the gill plate and very close to the lateral line (spine). I was kicking hard, as I pulled on the leash, trying to close the distance and subdue my prize. In my cold induced clumsiness, I kicked my right heel out of my fin. Damn. I curled my toes and eased up, so as not to completely loose my fin. About this time the grouper threw the shaft. He headed for the ledge with me in hot pursuit. In my haste, I had failed to retrieve my spear. No problem. I had the gun in my hand and as soon as he “holed up” I would pull in my leash and reload. At least, that was the plan until the flopper on my spear snagged a rock. It jerked me to an abrupt stop as I saw him disappear over the edge. I swam back and retrieved my spear, fixed my loose fin and reloaded. I knew that he was wounded and would not be going far. As I closed on the area where I expected him to be, I got buzzed by a bull shark! Great, this is just what I needed, a challenge. Not! He was in hunt mode, circling the area while zigzagging to pick up the scent. I hated to give up such a nice fish to the tax collector. I swam from rock to rock shining my light into every hole, while keeping an eye on Mr. Gray suit. He would appear out of the murk and then be gone again, never traveling too far. I spotted him out over the sand. Wait a minute, wasn’t he just over there on the other side? That was when I realized that there were now two bull sharks. This was getting better and better (heavy sarcasm). I was trying to decide what to do. Stay or go? Just then, I peered down into a crevice and there was my fish. Without thinking I turned and put a spear into him. I had to enter this 2’ wide crack to get my hands on the spear. I had him. He was going ape s*#t on the end of my spear. I kicked hard and pinned him to the ground. I was breathing hard from the exertion and excitement. Now, this is where I would normally have drawn my kill knife and ended the struggle. Somehow the thought of more blood in the water did not sound like a good idea. I had to get my head out of this crevice and see where those bulls were. While still holding the end of my spear, I stretched out and tried to get high enough to see. Something was stopping me. I looked down and saw that I had gotten tangled in some discarded mono. It was everywhere! Don’t panic. I remembered that I had 1700 lbs when I was looking for my fish. This left plenty of time to resolve my issues. I was able to untangle the mono with one hand while still pinning my fish to the bottom. I still couldn’t see where the sharks were. I decided to grab my fish and get out of there. I got my right hand into his gills and exited the crevice. I was swiveling my head around like the exorcist. I now counted three bulls! It was time to get the heck out of there. The tax men were circling as I made my ascent. I had been hyperventilating for a while now. It felt like I was not getting enough air. Now I could lie and say that I was calm and cool, but that was just not the case. I was on the edge of panic. Call me a wimp if you want. But the truth is that I was scared. I had my prize by the gills and pinned to my chest with my elbow. I did not want to be waiving him around like a T-bone in front of a pack of dogs. My mask was crooked from my struggles in the crevice and the slow leak was getting worse. As soon as I tried to straighten it, the strap slipped off, over the top of my head. Great! I am hyperventilating, my mask is off, sharks a swarming, what else can go wrong. I jammed the mask to my face and exhaled. Looking through the space around my hand, I could see that the sharks were still circling. I managed to get the strap back over my head while heading up. It was all that I could do to keep from rocketing to the surface like a Polaris Missile. Luckily, the boat was idling just 30’ away when I broke the surface. I pulled my reg and yelled to Grin to GET THE F*&#$ OVER HERE! I replaced my reg and stuck my face back into the water. I wanted to see where my new dive buddies were. I could not see them. But, I knew that they were not gone. I tried to hand off my fish but I had wrapped myself in the leash. Grin was able to grab my fish but we had to come up the ladder together. The seconds that it took me to remove one fin and climb that ladder were some of the longest ones in my life. I flopped onto the deck like a dead fish. I was spent.

02-15-2008, 13:56

02-15-2008, 14:01
Good story man. Thanks for sharing - sounds like a lot of fun! :D

02-15-2008, 15:30
I love a good story! Keep'em coming 'cause there is no fn way I going to join you.

02-15-2008, 15:38
nice fish!!!!! and good story thx

02-15-2008, 15:54
You should write suspense novels. :) Good catch!

02-15-2008, 16:37
Nice fish good job not becoming part of dinner too.

02-15-2008, 16:48
Ummm.. What I like about bowhunting deer is that the coyotes and bobcats generally stay away from me. :)

Dark Wolf
02-15-2008, 19:05
Great story, and a fantastic fish! Congrats!!


No Misses
02-18-2008, 07:31
I downloaded my DC. The profile got a little step there towards the end of the dive.

Elapsed time...28 min
Max depth......75 ft
Ave Depth......62 ft
Prior SI..........58
SAC............ 0.7 cf/min

I exited the crevice 71 fsw and spent ~ 30 seconds looking around for the tax collectors @ 65 fsw.
I ascended from 65fsw to 43 fsw at ~30 fpm (recommended max ascent rate).
@ 43 fsw my mask came off. I dropped to 51 fsw while dealing with my mask issues.
My ascent from there to the surface was @ roughly 60 fpm :-(

02-18-2008, 16:49
Oh jeez, reading your story made me nervous! Good catch! ;)

02-21-2008, 21:20
3 bulls... and you held on to that bleeding fish? Brass Balls... Big ones!!!

02-22-2008, 21:13
You must like gag grouper, eh?

02-22-2008, 21:55
Good story, GREAT grouper!

02-22-2008, 22:10
nice dive hope next ones better

04-20-2008, 14:43
nice fish, and sweet story...

04-20-2008, 19:12
Man.....you CRAZY....!! Nice fish !!!