The Mel Diver

This page is about having fun under water.
Nobody does it better than Mel

More than half a life time ago, in a place like Shangri La, I met a guy that wanted to dive. He had done some snorkeling in the Bahamas and wanted to try SCUBA. It might have been my suggestion, I do admit. Well, he wasn't certified and I was fairly certifiable, so we went to this spot I liked. Perhaps the dive spot was not the best for a beginner. I finally decided that it was too dangerous even for me. This was Greyhound Rock near Santa Cruz and it's about the most dangerous diving in California.

Well, the dive went fine and that was that... or was it? More than 20 years later, I went for an invitational dive on the Truth and who should be there, but Mel. He said "now I are a dive nut". He was telling the truth. Perhaps he defines a dive nut the best way it can be done. Look at these pictures and tell me he doesn't have a great time diving. He even got certified.

I've known Mel for a while and gone diving with him when I can. I know some of his stories, these links go to my stories about Mel.

  • The 2013/2014 Hunt - This is different
  • Alien Abduction - Big Lobster - Catch and Release
  • The 2012 Hunt - This is cool
  • The 2011 Hunt
  • The 2010 Hunt
  • Another Season - Hunting 09-10
  • Do The Lobster - 08-09 Season
  • The Video Page - Catchin' bugs to 11.5 pounds
  • Do The Tuna
  • A Time To Dive - The Raider
  • Catalina Cruisin' on the Rapture
  • Foggy New Years Day 12.5 lb Bug
  • Long Cool Catalina Night
  • Fire Boats
  • Lobster Season Closer
  • seahunt

  • I can only tell so many of his stories. What is below is mostly taken from emails I have received and added to these pages. It's really cool. Mel goes diving and gets a great story and pics. I use the stuff to make a diving web page. Sure, call it a brag page if you like, but I'd like to be able to brag about this stuff. This is a documentation of an incredible story and quite a hunter. I see this as a story that is timeless because it tells a truth. Few people are so into hunting, but some are and it reflects common human instincts. In the future, with the pressures humans have put on all natural environments, hunting like this may be considered inappropriate and beome uncommon. Game is most likely to become more scarce as all environments are under pressure form humans. That makes this story all the more unique. Just like the stories of the Mountain Men, it may never happen again
    This is a different kind of page than most on my site. There is no way that I can tell his stories the way I can tell mine, but they are such great stories that I had to try.

    I always know that if I see his light at night and it is not moving fast, go check it out. He's got a hold of something.

    I was swimming at Long Point Catalina, when this school of about 20 Yellowtails went by. They sort of made a curve as they went past, so it was an easy to get a good shot. The fish really fought, so I released line from my reel. It turned around and went in shallow. I was worried that it could get tangled in some kelp and get loose, so I grabbed the line and worked my way up it. I saw the spear on the bottom ahead and figured that I had lost the fish. It turned out that the spear had gone all the way through it and the fish was still on the line, but it was a ways up above the spear itself.
    Another time near there, I shot a nice 10 pound Bonita, even though it was really Yellowtail that I was looking for. Later, I was swimming with the bait fish and sure enough some nice sized yellows went by. I shot about a 15 pounder and it wasn't on the spear well, so I decided to swim in near shore to deal with it. On the way, I passed over a Halibut, out in the open on a rock in about 25 feet of water. I kept swimming a ways and then got the Yellowtail off my spear and into the bag. Sure enough, when I went back the Halibut was still there. It measured 27 inches.

    Then one night there was this Halibut in the sand, but I had no gun. What could I do? I knifed it of course.

    These were from one of the night trips to Catalina in March 99.

    This was from the March trip to San Nic with the Sea Sons.

    It's Flatty for supper.

    Or you can have White Sea Bass. There's enough for all.

    Here is a letter he sent me, with a couple of minor adjustments. I thought it was just fun.

    seahunt........I just got back from a killer trip on the Westerly to Santa Barbara Island. I feel compelled to brag. We caught a perfect break in the weather for both days. On the last dive of the trip I ran into Shel underwater as I exited a hole with my tank off. He signaled to me "where's your game bag?". I had left it on the boat. So I figured if I caught any lobsters I'd tie them up with a cord I keep in my weight belt as a fish stringer or else put them under my weight belt. I did just that. I ended up with 3 bugs tied in a bundle with the cord attached to my waist clip, 2 bugs on my stomach tightly pinned under my weight belt, and the last one ( a 4 pounder ) I just held by the tail with my left hand and let him cling to my left forearm with all his legs ( which he did faithfully) until we got back to the boat. I passed up another 4 or 5 legal bugs on the way back to the boat because I had nowhere else to put them! The guys on the boat were pretty amused with the sight of me returning to the boat looking like I was being attacked by a six-pack of killer lobsters. Obviously I had a great trip...............
    Later, he mentioned to me that he could have probably put one under his shoulder strap.

    This is one story as he told it to me. This is the kind that you remember.

    I was diving at the east end rock quarry, just past the rocks, over the sand. I was looking for bugs, when I saw a shark come out of the haze. This is a spot that I regularly night dive and this was a large Great White Shark. I moved over to the rocks and became part of the reef. This was something to see as it swam to about 10 feet away. It was grey and had the body flattened as it became the tail. No question about what it was. It was looking at me, but had no apparent interest. It was just went cruising along the reef. Hmmm. time to relax and check out the reef right here.
    I continued the dive and saw it again about 30 feet away as it swam a bit off the reef. It was not something to follow.

    He just keeps diving, so I just have to keep adding whenever he does something really cool. So here's a note I got from him the other day.

    Hi again guys.....This Bug was caught off the Raider Sat. on a ledge I called "8 lb Bug reef" due to the results of my first dive there 2 yrs ago. Now I might re-name it "9.5 lb Bug reef". Thanks to the good example of my friends Donna & Shel, The Big guy was released after the picture and was last seen swimming back to the bottom in a hurry. The other bugs caught that day weren't so lucky. Take care....Mel

    Update 01/24/04 - I just got a new letter

    Greetings from Labugman.......The Rapture was at it again this weekend. Kerry, Guy
    and I went to Catalina for night and day diving. Mostly the usual stuff until a
    dive on Saturday afternoon. I was seeing thousands of lobsters at this spot, all
    shorts. I was enjoying them, totaly mesmerized by them. as I rounded a large rock
    there was a hole in the rockpile next to it filled with a bugs face. The pictures
    tell the rest of the story. It was a new personal best, 11.5 lbs. After the photo
    shoot he was let go, back to his harem. Lucky for various reasons wasn't he?
    Take care.....Mel

    New Report 06/06/04... He's been at it again.

    Had a good day on the Rapture at Palos Verdes Friday. I got this 35lb White Seabass and my friend Daniel Carlberg got one 45lbs. Mel

    Hi guys... This is disgusting. I had more good luck at PV this weekend. Since Friday I got several more fish. One was 40.5 lbs and the other was 49.5 lbs. I weighed them at 22nd st landing. Here are some more pictures. I know they just make some of you hate me more. Sorry.......Mel

    Hi Mike....I have some shark wrestling stories for you. The first occured several years ago on the backside of Catalina at a place aptly named Shark Harbor. While hunting for white seabass a soupfin shark swam under me. Viewing it only from above, I shot it thinking it was a seabass. When it turned I realized it was a shark. I pulled it in and grabbed it by the gills and wrapped my legs around its' tail end like a wrestler. It was squirming in my arms while I got my spear shaft back. a friend swam up and said " looks like you got your hands full". He was right.....Now this brings us to the other day. I'm diving at a local spot when I shoot a white seabass. I dispatch it with a knife to the head and start to put it on my stringer when it slips out of my hand and sinks to the bottom. I dive down to the 40 ft. bottom to get it and found it seemingly alive. How could this be? Well, a shark had it by the tail and was shaking it violently. His head was waving back and forth. It was a 4 to 5 ft. blue shark. I tried to grab the fish and pull it out of his mouth but the shark yanked it out of my hand before I could get a good grip on it and started to swim off with it. The thought had occurred to me that this shark was not normally a threat to bite a person but that many animals will bite if you're trying to take food out of their mouth. At this point I needed to head back up for air. The excitement had brought my heart rate up. As I surfaced I saw that the shark had dropped the fish but was heading back for it. As I caught my breath at the surface I decided the fish was not worth the hassle of going back down after it. It wasn't a very big fish anyway. I let the shark have his feast and moved on. I've had enough with shark wrestling for now......Mel

    I just got this note...

    Hi Guys.....Just got back from my trip to Mexico tuna hunting at El Banco. We got hammered
    by the weather on the first day. Skip still managed to shoot an average one, around 100 lbs.
    I had many sightings but was not able to get a shot off at one. A couple of them must have been
    near 200 lbs! They were difficult to approach. I did manage to shoot and miss at a 40 lb wahoo.
    The water was so clear and the fish so big that it was hard to judge the distances. The next
    day we saw very few fish. A dozen commercial fishing boats had pulled in and were working the
    area. They had busted up the fish pretty good. I did manage to shoot and miss at a 200 lb blue
    marlin! That was very exciting! At first I thought it was a tuna. As I dove down on it I thought
    it was a shark, long and slender . Then I saw the bill and I knew it was a marlin. The next day
    the fishing boats were gone and the tuna were back. They were easier to approach from above than
    from the side. Finally I dropped down on one as a school came below me. I shot and landed my
    first tuna, a baby one by El Banco standards at 46.5 lbs. It was a blast and all I can say is
    "I'll be back".........Mel

    Tom & I went to San Clemente Island for a two day trip this weekend. On Sat. tom got a 20 lb WSB and that was it for the day although we spotted several times. Next day we dove several new spots Tom got from fisherman sources. At the last spot of the day I found a school of WSB out in the sand. I shot and lost one just before Tom came by. We dove the area together for awhile and Tom finally got one of them. I was diving down to a 35 ft bottom and croaking to bring them in. Finally 3 of them swam by and gave me a shot. I landed my only fish of the trip. A great ending to a wonderful trip.......Take care...Mel

    Start The Season Right.

    Tom and Mel doing just fine.

    Mel found a 29 pounder.

    Here's a 48 pounder from County Line - July 05

    On the second day, Mel again pulled the largest with Dale Lopez a close second. First day Mel got the largest and Carol Beck got the second largest

    October 11-12, 2005 was the Dr. Death Invitational on the Peace to Tanner Bank, Cortes Bank, and Santa Barbara Island. Twenty divers during the 2-day trip pulled two hundred and twenty five bugs. The first day the largest bugs came from Cortes Bank, both were in the high 4 pound range. The second day produced bugs over 6 pounds from Santa Barbara Island.
    Pictures by Chris Grossman

    Mike.....This weekend I went night diving at Catalina with Tom Chung. We had an incredible, almost surreal experience as we accidentally landed in a squid run with phosphorescence in the water. We dove deep on the sand between 70 and 110 feet. There were thousands of squid everywhere and they followed us around attracted to our lights. As they wham they left lighted trails from the plankton in the water. I was able to snatch one by hand as he glided by me. He wiggled a little and then I let him go. Many of the squid were attached by their tentacles in a love embrace. There were dozens and dozens of dead squid lying on the bottom and guess who was there to eat them....Bugs....lots of them. They were there having their Thanksgiving feast. So were seals, angel sharks and a torpedo ray. There were probably halibut too but I didn't spot any.Back at the boat we were given a light show all night by the squid hovering around and the seals chasing them.They left trailers wherever they went. It was a starry starry night and in the morning there were thousands of seagulls circling around the area. They too were going to somehow partake in this Thanksgiving feast. For me it was a feast for the senses that I'll never forget. Another reminder of why I love The sport of diving so much......Mel

    Mel's Version of Sailing

    Hi Mike...Just got back from diving Mexico. We didn't get the tuna we were looking for but I did land this nice Mexican Sailfish. He put up quite a fight. At first he dragged me across the surface of the water for a while. Then He jumped completely out of the water right in front of our panga and spun like a spinner dolphin. In doing so his tail was wrapped with the shooting line. Shortly after that he pooped out and was easily pulled up to the boat.He weighed about 85 lbs.and is my largest fish to date. I went south after the monster tuna....I didn't think I'd end up " sailing"...Take care.....Mel

    This 40 lb Wahoo was caught in Mexico Sept. of 2005

    What a cool letter to recieve. Two of the best lobster hunters anywhere, doing it in the cold blue.

    Mike....You're on for some bug diving the 17th. I Just had an awesome trip with Shel. We went to SBI on Friday night and tried some freediving for bugs. It was rough, lots of surge,bad vis and no bugs. We were both skunked. We anchored for the night and waited to do some damage with our nitrox tanks in the morning. We started at a cave I visit once in awhile. It has it's main opening at 90 ft. and angles up to about 60 ft inside. It has several holes in the ceiling big enough for someone to swim through. The anchor chain was draped across one of those hole and we went in. Right away I knew we had hit it good. There were bugs all over. The wall of the cave had one section that looked like it was hairy from the side....It was a mass of antenna. Shel and I went to work. We were busy. I quit looking for bugs near the end of the dive and exited through one of the portholes in the ceiling. The whole area was filled with bubbles which were leaking through the cracks in the rock.It was surreal. We both had our legal limit of course....Shel's bag had 20 (lbs) and mine 29 (lbs). We did some experimental dives after that but the memory of that cave dive will be something he and I talk about forever. See you soon....Mel

    Mike....Yesterday while diving at a well know secret spot I happened upon a school of 6 large white sea bass milling about in the kelp. I dropped down from the surface as smoothly as I could and started to glide down towards them. They sensed me approaching and stated to meander away slowly. I picked up the pace with a couple of stronger kicks knowing they would swim away from me shortly if I didn't. Instinctively I knew it was now or never...I let a long shot go. The fish started to swim in tight circles and I new I had hit it good. Then the fish swam off into the haze. I expected to see my float line follow but it didn't. I looked and saw my shaft lying on the bottom. Although the tip had come out, I new from the movement of the fish that I had hit it in the spine. I reloaded my gun and began a search grid to find the fish. They don't go far in that condition. Ten minutes later there it was, lying on the bottom. I approached it with my gun pointed but decided it was "out of it" so I let go of the gun, grabbed it with my hands and brought it to the surface. Later I could see that the tip had embedded in it's spine and pulled straight out without toggling.But I got the fish ( 51 lbs) and the pictures.......... Take care...Mel

    Shel...We had fun last night but it was a rough ride in the shallows with the surge. We went deep in the wall. I had my head banged on a rock and a fin sucked right off my foot. I was in the rocks when a swell came and the water flow between the rocks was so strong it was vibrating my mask. I held it with one hand to keep it on and had a fin sucked off. I never saw it again. I continued the dive with one fin. I was cherry picking for big ones passing on many legals. I ended up with an 8.2 lbs and a 7.5 lbs. I saw several close to 10 lbs and one definitely over. That one and I did a dance for a while with me trying to position myself for a grab and him moving just as I squeezed my way towards him. I blew it when I first came upon him. I should have rushed in for a quick grab but I tried to finesse it too much. It was fun. Jon got a limit ( only) and a couple of nice ones a little smaller than my 2. In my recent trips I've seen lots of big bugs in there. We have to go soon. I'll be in touch.........Mel

    Mesage Received 6/10/07

    Friends...I'm writing this to share with you a dangerous experience I had at Santa Barbara Island while spear fishing. I had just speared a white sea bass when a very large male sea lion grabbed my fish and tried to swim off with it. I played tug of war with it but it was dragging me through the water and sometimes down 5 to 10 feet as I kept pulling the fish towards me. I would pick up the pace pulling hand over hand when he would let go of the fish ... as he sometimes did. Although I tried not to get tangled in my shooting line it still happened twice in all the commotion, once around my upper arm and once around my ankle. Luckily it was during breaks in his strong tugging. I was able to untangle myself before he started to pull again.When I finally got the fish in my hands I thought he would circle around yet keep his distance, but he didn't. He had no hesitation in coming right up to me, getting in my face and grabbing the fish still in my hands. I tried to fend him off by kicking him with my fin and poking him with the back end of my shaft ( the font end still had the fish on it) but he just kept on coming. He finally pulled the fish out off my hands and swam off with it. My float line was moving through the water so fast that I thought he might take it all so I grabbed it and hung on as I inflated my utility float. I worked the float to the shooting line and he still pulled the float down 10 feet. I was tired and well aware of the danger I was in of drowning so I decided to give him the fish....but not the shaft and tip. By this time the fish had no head and the body was getting mangled as he bit it and thrashed it about in order to eat it. I pulled the fish in again between his tugging at it and finally got it in my hands again. In my hurry to get the tip through the fish it toggled inside of it. He yanked it away and swam off with it again. Little by little I pulled it back in again and then pulled out my knife to cut the tip out. Meanwhile the sea lion was in my face again ready to get his meal back. I stabbed him in the side of the head with my knife thinking that this will get him to back off but he only flinched back momentarily.......and then kept on coming. I don't think my poke penetrated his thick hide. I concentrated at cutting the fish open so I could pull out my spear tip and was able to get it just as he grabbed the fish again and swam off with it to finish his feast.The ordeal was over and I was OK . Luckily "Murphy" was occupied elsewhere and I get to tell the story. I share this with you hoping that someone else doesn't drown from one of these encounters. Although it would not have prevented this incident, from now on I'm going to swim my fish back to the boat ASAP when I'm at SBI. Swimming around with a fish around your waist is tempting fate. As for my story...Yes, I know that harming a marine mammal is a federal crime but in this instance I was the endangered species......It was self defense......Mel

    Mike... Hearing that the big fish were in, I dove last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In all three days I had only one sighting of white sea bass. Friday I found this one down near a 50 ft bottom. It turned out to be a new personal best at 60 lbs.

    The big fish were in at two spots. First I dove "the barn kelp" off of Camp Penalton on Thursday ( out of Dana Point) and then the LA/ Ventura "county line" on Friday, the day I got the 60 pounder. The week before I dove there and I didn't see a WSB but heard croaking. The other guys on the boat got fish of 44, 52, 56 & 57 lbs. It was frustrating for me that day so I went back to try again. It paid off. The day I got the big fish some one else got a new world record WSB at 93.4 lbs near the county line. The next day it was a zoo with other divers so we went to SBI instead. We saw nothing there. My boat should be repaired by next week. Talk to you soon.....Mel

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