Today is the 2019 National Spearfishing Championship. This year the championship is being held on beautiful Lake Mead with targets being mostly carp and striper with maybe a few tilapia thrown in. My girlfriend, Sam Mase, is my teammate and Eric Shearouse has flown in to help us scout, rig, and captain our boat. We are Team Florida Freedivers and we intend to win. This is how.
Nationals for me starts months in advance by talking to locals, watching YouTube, and hunting for boats and accommodations. I constantly look at a combination of Google Earth and Navionics to begin planning my trip. Before even arriving I’ve got a solid list of questions I want to answer to begin developing my game day plan. This year striper are worth 3 points and carp are worth 1. There is no bonus for weight so any size fish goes. There are a lot more carp than striper but obviously each striper is worth three carp. Thus the dilemma of the tournament and undoubtedly what will determine the winner.
Cold water. Big waves. Tiny fish. Most likely in tiny holes.
These were the big selling points of the I CMAS Women’s World Cup in Sagres, Portugal and I still decided to join the team.
I’m a fair weather diver. I like warm tropical clear water with lots of big dumb fish. I thought that diving in Portugal would challenge me and make me a better diver by taking me out of my comfort zone. I just didn’t realize how far out of that zone I would be.
It was actually easy to join. I went to nationals, I did well enough, the girl ahead of me couldn’t go and suddenly a spot on Team USA was mine. A few people tried to talk me out of it, convince me that it would suck or that someone better could go in my place, but I ignored them, and a few short weeks later I was donning my brand new 7 mm Sporasub wetsuit on my first day of scouting in Portugal.
The water was cold, like 49 degrees cold. And if that wasn’t enough to make me miserable, then the sea sickness from the rough water would. And if I...
This years Nationals were held in Clearwater Florida and hosted by the Florida Skin Divers Association. It was relatively close to home with familiar fish and conditions. The National Championship moves around the country each year on a 4 - 5 year regional rotation depending on which clubs are willing to put in the massive effort to host them. It was last hosted by FSDA back in 2015, where I competed and finished 5th individual. I was both excited and nervous to be back in “home” waters again. This year, I was diving with my girlfriend, Sam Mase, as my partner in the mixed division. The 2018 event presented some new challenges and some very welcome advantages.
I was coming fresh off a very unexpected first place win in 2017 in Northern California. Something about winning once makes anything less than a first place finish just another loss. I had a lot of pressure on me this year. Not really from sponsors, family, or friends but really only put there from myself. Even though it was held...