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With heavy surf and cold winds raking the California Coast, diving became untenable this weekend. However, with sunny skies and crispy air the conditions could not have been more perfect for the long awaited coastal foraging tour with the great Kirk Lombard.

So it was with great apprehension that Phillip Morrison and I grabbed jackets and headed out to the stone lighthouse at the end of the St Francis Jetty in the Marina District to meet our friends Eric DiIulio and Freddy St. Jean. We knew we were in for a real treat, having seen videos and heard tales from our friends, including this wonderful piece done for the NY Times by our friend and brilliant filmmaker Keenan Newman of High/LowFilm (Highlowfilm.com):
http://www.nytimes.com/video/2012/09/04/t-magazine/100000001738149/edible-selby-kirk-lombard.html.

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If you don't already know of Kirk, I suggest you visit his website, take his tours, and get ready to be learned and amazed. He is a truly unique individual, immediately genuine, friendly, and authentically San Franciscan. Having amassed a wealth of experience working for the parks service for 7 years, he was hands down one of the most knowledgeable people I've heard talk of the the ocean and coastal environment, bay area issues, our impact and influence on the fishery, and all things seafood in general.

With respect to the tour, I would feel bad if I were to divulge too much of what we did only because it would take away from anyone's future experience with Kirk. What I can say is that I laughed nearly the entire time, and I learned:
 
- How to cast a Hawaiian casting net (for Herring, Smelt, Sardines, etc)
  
- How to create a better fabricated Crab snare, bait, and cast it
   
- How to fish with a poke pole with astounding success
  


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- How to gauge a hole in the sand to know what kind of clam or shrimp lies beneath and how to extract it

 - The main kinds of seaweed to eat, methods for preparation, and ways to ID ones that are protected and should never be harvested

- All things seabird and herring

For an experience quite unlike anything you've ever had and for just a plain old good time getting learned about the sea by the Monkey Face Eel record holder himself, take his tour! Big thank you to Kirk for a phenomenal time!

http://www.seaforager.com/

 
 
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Aloha Kris!
With swells up since December, it was with great angst and long felt need that I got in two successive days of diving the third week of January to kick off 2013.

It was two days of firsts. Apart from the new year, the dives marked the first sessions armed with more than my 43" JBL woody and/or pole spear. Thanks to two magnificent magnanimous Christmas gifts from my older brother and folks, I swam out January 16 armed with a 100cm Aimrite venom, carbon fiber speargun, and a brand new GoPro3. Beast.

The photos you see alongside were taken during the second of the two dives, on Friday, January 17, and feature a new dive buddy, Kris from Kauai, who made the trek down from San Francisco for his first cencal/Monterey dive sesh. Armed with nothing but a six foot three prong, Kris put on a clinic, bagging limits on multiple species, including three Cabezon (one Monster), a rock greenling, and assorted rockfish.





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As you can see, the winter visibility was quite the welcome sight!
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Looking down, getting ready for a dive in 30ft with the Kelp stalk for cover
After a long 3 1/2 hour solo dive the day previous, legs, neck and back were a bit sore, the cold damp wetsuit not something I was looking forward to, and I already had plenty of fish. However, it was scenes like these that brought me back. It is no wonder I see these places in my dreams!

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The visibility milked out on the outside, revealing only ghostly images and leaving much to imagination.
After searching for about an hour, we found the first school of blues we had been searching for on the outside of the kelp. As we approached, they vanished into the milky haze, but it wasn't long before we were surrounded by their curious young.

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A school of blues is always a good sign. While good eating, these are a bit small, what they portent is a good possibility of larger fish sulking in the depths...
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That didn't stop Kris from choosing out a few of the larger fish in the school. Blues are too good to pass up! Here he is skillfully pinning a freshly speared blue against the 3-prong.
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Looking up through the 'enchanted forest' one sees the world as if on land, except that if you so choose, you can fly up to those branches or glide along the bottom inches from the forest floor.
At this point in the dive I settled to only taking pictures and avoid taking any videos of the dive. The high resolution photos on the GoPro3 were taking so much space already on the SD card (which was only 2gb) and I couldn't get enough of shots like these.

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'Oh, that Jelly looks pretty cool' were the words going through my head. Little did I know what would happen next...
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Whirling around, I tried to capture them as they passed... Two magnificent giants of the deep, a Grey whale mother and her calf. This was the photo I shot... I'm lost for words at this point, as they fail to describe the experience. Catch me with a few drinks in me and I'll probably attempt to tell you all about it.

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On a high from the encounter with the whales, we pressed on. Here is a pic of Kris skimming the bottom in his camo.
Having been witness to one of the most powerful creatures on the planet, spearing fish seemed almost silly, but we got back to it.

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Kris surveying the bottom for Ling sign.
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Here's Kris dispatching a grass rockfish that was hugging a small canyon on the bottom, Kris' 3-prong game was on point!
The ability to hunt with a 3-prong spear is a necessity if a hunter wishes to graduate to using a gun. The stalking method, knowing when and how to get close to fish, calculating the distance and taking the kill are invaluable tools for the underwater hunter.

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About three hours into the dive, my GoPro3 battery beeped and died. This was one of the last photos I took, looking up through the kelp at the brilliant sunshine. What a day, what a day...

 
 
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2012 was an epic, epic year. Weddings, birthdays, elections, holidays with family, and sports glory.

Looking back, I can say that it was one of the best years of my life. Buster Posey's two-story bomb in Cincinnati to seal the first of two unprecedented comeback playoff series victories in the lead up to Sergio Romo's game IV last pitch - striking out Miguel Cabrera looking. The re-election of the country's first black president.

Personally, 2012 was a true awakening to the ocean. I was in the water more than any time in my life, logging about 40 dives from Hawaii to Florida. It was the year this adventure, fishtaku, began.

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There was also a new addition to the family.




His name is Murphy.

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With his help we were able take out/fill the swimming pool and build a new deck.

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Looking forward to 2013 with hope and an open heart, thankful for everything I've got, every moment I've come through, bringing me to this moment now...