white seabass
Painting by Terry Maas
knew this fish was big , but it wasn ’ t until I tried to pull him over the rocks that I realized I might have a record .
Bill Ernst ’ s perfect dive :
Author ’ s note : For well over 48 years , Bill Ernst has been my closest teammate and dive buddy . He and I were scheduled to dive together for an episode of Speargun Hunter . When I called him several days before the filming , he explained that he had just landed his personal best white seabass , a 68-pound fish taken while shore diving . Because the weather offshore was iffy , we agreed to check in the next day . When Bill called saying , “ Terry ,” I could tell from his voice something really great must have happened . Before he could say more I guessed , “ You got a record white didn ’ t you ?” “ YEAH !” he shouted . In the following pages , Bill describes the events leading up to his Perfect Dive .
After a few slow , rhythmic breaths , I tipped over and quietly slipped beneath the surface , gradually leveling off at 15 feet . The camouflaged wetsuit blended my potentially threatening shape into the green-water and brown-kelp environment . Mingling with
undulating balls of bait fish , I scanned side to side like a lighthouse . I spotted two massive forms and tried to conceal my increasing heart rate as I gently applied pressure to the trigger . Little did I know what was about to happen would exceed my wildest dreams .
In my view , landing a white seabass is more than pulling the trigger . Spearfishing represents my lifelong love affair with the sea , surrounded by great friends and divers . My brother John – arguably the best competitive diver the U . S . has ever produced – guided my introduction to spearfishing . As a result , I won the Junior National Spearfishing Championships at age 15 . Soon after , I teamed up with John and Terry Maas , and we melded into what would become the alltime most winning spearfishing team in the U . S . This experience gave me a strong desire to be a team player . I gave back to the sport by teaching spearfishing and acting as the Director of Spearfishing for the Underwater