Friday Night Bug Hunt on the Great Escape

By Mike Brennan

WooHoo! My sinuses cleared up and the moon came out and the water was flat and it was the perfect night to go 'round the Palos Verdes Peninsula and grub around for some nice tasty bugs! I caught up with my buddy as I was loading the tanks on the boat and we hatched our plan of attack. As soon as we hit the water we would take off like striped-ass snakes and head towards shore! I had recently altered my gear config and ditched the suicide clips and was just itchin' to try everything out. As we motored west towards Point Vicente we could make out all of our favorite kayak and shore diving spots....White Point, Abalone Cove, Inspiration Point, the nudie beach, Old Marineland and Cardiac Hill; where would we end up tonight? We didn't care! We just wanted to hit the water and go huntin'! Cap'n Tim dropped anchor at what seemed like roughly 200 yards South and West of the Point Vicente light-house and we hit the water and were down. I hit the bottom at 51 feet and started to zig-zag in a northerly direction, towards shore. I was frenetically shining my light in a sweeping back and forth motion and checking the crevices here and there. I see a bug and distract it with the edge of my beam. A good, clean grab and its in my hand with no hope of escape... unless, awww's an eighth of an inch too short! Curses! I let it go and move on. Oops! there's another one, struttin' around like it owns the place. Geez, didn't its mother ever tell it that it's dangerous to be caught in the open after Sept 30th? A little distraction with the edge of my beam and it is trapped in a black, neoprene and kevlar clad hand! Once again, it is too short....way to short, by about a half inch..grrr!!! Uh-Oh, I check my air and i'm down to 1,400 psi. Time to start turning around after my first third! I swim towards a big rock formation and lo and behold, there is a monster, sitting at the base of the rock wall! He is a fat devil! A little distraction with the beam and he gets slam-dunked into my bag! No need to measure this puppy! He is clearly a 3 to 4 pounder. I spot another and make a less than clean grab. The poor lil' bug loses part of an antenna. Shit! that's bad form. I slam dunk him into the bag. With that 3-4 pounder in there thrashing around, I don't have time to stop and measure everything. I am now down to 1100 psi and am heading back towards the boat. I can see the surface of the water rippling some 33 feet above and the moonlight shining down from the south-west direction. This looks like a beautiful spot, if it were daytime, some nice wide-angle shots might be had. A really big horn shark is lounging underneath one rock. Good, I say! We need something to start munching on all these darn purple urchins everywhere. Ohhhh! there's another bug! I slam my hand down as it starts to scoot away! This one was skittish and I am sloppy! It loses an antenna and a leg. OK, thats it! time to call the dive if i'm getting sloppy and can't even make a clean grab. Heading back, there are clouds of silt in the water and a few bugs sans antennae-wonder who's been here? I swim towards the south and east a little bit and surface with 600 psi: boy, this bug-hunting is strenuous work! I went through 2/3 of a steel '72 in half an hour at 30 feet...sure am glad Jim Hoffman gives good fills...whew! every little bit of air counts! The boat is a little way off, but I just plop the bug bag on my chest and scoot over there in no time! After weighing the big dude and seeing it break that satisfying 4 pound mark, we begin to devour some chili when the boat drops anchor again! We are just off of Old Marineland, probably not 150 yards off shore. I hit the water a minute or two behind my buddy and start zig-zagging towards shore. This place is barren! Not a bug to be seen! anywhere! just urchins and rocks. I finally see one that looks legal and make a clean grab and it goes in the bag! With a third of my air gone, and less than four bugs even seen so far, I find myself in 25 feet of water and there are house-sized rocks with Eisenia growing on top and sponges and the occasional Spanish Shawl on the sides. There's another large horn shark and tons of sand bass, but very few bugs. There are a couple or three, nope, make that four undersized ones on the sides but nothing that looks legal. I grab one for the hell of it and let it go...well, gotta grab something for chrissakes..all these bugs and not a one past 3 inches in carapace length! Oh the frustration! Now, as I round a corner, there, under a big boulder, are two obviously legal fellows, just sitting there looking at me! My light hits them and both back away! These guys are skittish. I move in, while pointing my light away and keep my eye hard on them in the shadows. I get within grabbing distance and one fellow swings his antennae over his tail... This fellow's been grabbed before! Bugs may be stupid, but given just one little learning opportunity, they're smart enough to find out what they have to know and behave accordingly from then on! The bug in my bag thrashes violently, and both lobster under the rock back deeper into the crevice. I shimmy in after them, keeping in mind that I am down to 1000 psi, and need to back out the same way I came in. One bug bails out and I am stuck between floor and ceiling and cannot go after him. The other retreats behind a rock and I can just about reach around and grab its ass with my left hand, but first i have to undo the lanyard on my big light. The light thumps agains the side of the rock and the bug is off like a rocket into the furthest reaches of the crevice. Darn...skittish devils! that was my last best opportunity! I am whipped, so I back out of the crevice and head home! There are two one more bugs on the way, in shallow surgy water but they both get away! Time to call it quits. The water is getting shallow and I can see waves breaking on the tops of the boulders above. With 700 psi remaining, I begin my ascent. I surface very near shore, just behind the break zone, and the boat is a long way off. So far off, I can't even see it over a one foot swell and these damn waves are breaking just a few yards away! Yikes! time to get out of there! After a long, character-building surface swim, i climb aboard, dejected that I didn't limit out all with 5 pounders, put my one lonely bug in the other bag, and finish that chili. The hunting was decent (for PV), the chili was good, the gear config worked like a charm, and there's tail in the freezer, and it actually felt like I did some divin' that night so all I can say is; Captain Tim, sign us up for the next time!

Back To Home Page