ABALONE DIVING TIPS


                         

A special thanks to the many divers who have provided my site (ABALONETEN) with countless pictures and diving information. Without your input and dedication to the best sport in the world this site would not exist..

 

ERIC ANDERSON on TROPHY DIVING TIPS             

         

           

                     DWAYNE DINUCCI on TROPHY DIVING TIPS

           click on above link to see Dwayne Dinucci's tips on trophy diving                   

   PHIL JOHNSON on TROPHY DIVING TIPS 

click on above link to see Phil Johnson's tips on trophy diving

JACK LIKINS on TROPHY DIVING TIPS 

click on above link to see Jack Likins' tips on trophy diving
 
 
                      
ED MOORE (Wildlife Workshop & Gallery)  Abalone Hunting Tips (below link)
 
 
 
                          
 
                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2abW6VApuY&feature=youtu.be
                                              
 
                         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocZjVIJuPA0
 
(click on the below video to see 3 abalone over 11"s ..video provided by Reed Gatton)
 
click on above links to view Roger Rude's action video on 10" diving...
 
           

Following this short introduction article by Abaloneten are Tips from the Top by Dwayne Dinucci and Jack Likins...Good info...senior diving rules at bottom of page...

 

DIVING FOR LARGER ABALONE

by

Eric Anderson 

     I believe one has to think like an abalone to be a successful abalone diver. Sounds a little silly because the IQ of an abalone is probably .5 or lower. Anyway, one must know what abalone eat, where they eat, and where they hide to avoid predators. And as I stated on the Abalone Trophy Page, "There are many excellent divers. However, I truly believe, the taking of trophy abalone is the result of motivation, dedication, location, and a little luck."

     Abalone begin their reproduction cycle at 1½ inches and hit their epoch at 8 inches or so. Therefore, many 10 inch plus abalone that may be over 30 years old are at the end of their reproduction phase and targeting them is not a factor in their reproduction cycle... Actually in reality, an old abalone is similar to any senior animal. When it’s over it’s over! However, there is what some refer to as a streaker. In reality, streakers are abalones that have quickly grown to trophy size and they may still be in their reproduction cycle. I guess Abraham and Sarah would be in this group…

     A trophy abalone probably has 5 times the amount of meat as a 7-8 inch abalone. That is a huge difference. Think of an earthquake, on the Richter scale a 5 is huge, but a 10 is 500 times bigger or more…Kind of like abalone…A very good reason to seek the trophies.

   

 

          

 

 Water depth size examples:    The above left picture is an abalone that measured 11 1/8"  taken in Mendocino County (rock-picking) by Robert Caughey of Gualala in 3' of water.   The center picture is a 10 1/2" abalone taken in Sonoma County by Eric Anderson in 37' of water. The right picture is John Pepper displaying his 12 5/16" abalone taken (who knows where) in 1993 in 12' of water. The above information proves that depth is not a factor in hunting trophy abalone.               

                        

 TIPS FROM THE TOP.....

Finding 10 inch abalone (Dwayne Dinucci & Jack Likins)

 

1.  A 10 inch measure, a float line and a dive light are a  must.

2. Dive areas with a reputation for producing large abalone.

3.  Scope out the dive spot. When looking, straight out from  the shore, the area looks great. To the north, it looks even better. To the south the water looks dirty. Diving to the south will probably produce the larger abalone.  Most divers will go for the good visibilty and not dive here.

4.   Get away from the crowd. Put on your hiking boots and and walk that extra mile. 

5.  Spend a lot of time (hours) in the water. Do not dive the same location every trip. A good diver is always in search of a new area. The more area you cover the better chance you have (1/8 of a mile the abalone could be much larger). Cover each area well-dive deep as well as shallow using a search pattern.

6.  Look for terrain with large boulders, cracks and crevices. Large abalone will often hide in these areas. This will protect them in harsh winter swell. Abalone found, deep in holes, tend to have less predators (boring clams, boring sponge) attacking the shell. This allows the abalone to grow in length instead of spending time repairing the shell.

7.  Search for older populations of abalone. If there are many smaller abalone in the area, move on.

8. On very calm days, dive areas that are normally not accessible.

9.What separates an abalone diver from the Trophy Hunter?

       -A person who is willing to:

         -Drive great distances

         -Stay in the water countless hours

         -Venture off the beaten path

         -Pass up large abalone to find larger ones  

         -Dive in dirty water

         -Try new areas even though 95% of the

           time doesn't pay off

         -Return home with no abalone when you 

           did not reach your goal

10.Never ask a diver where he found his big abalone!!!

         -This is the 1st sign that you are a rookie.

         -If they tell you where-that's the first place 

           I would  scratch off of my list.

         -Would you give away your secret spot it 

           took you 20-30 years to find? I don't think

            I don't think so...

         -Remember that most great spots are no

           larger than a tennis court.

FLOAT LINE HISTORYand WHY USE A FLOAT LINE?

                   The Float Line


I was just thinking back about how the float line came about.

When looking for big abalone, it seemed as though I always ran across a good hole or ledge just about the time the air in my lungs ran out.  In bad visibility, it was often impossible to re-find the same spot.  I found that often I had just one chance at a big abalone, so naturally I went for it.  Too often,  I would cut the abalone and never get it.  How many abalone did I kill looking for a big one.  So, I started swimming around with my abalone raft anchor in hand.  This was fine when there was no strong current or thick kelp.  Back then the limit was 5.  If there were 4 abalone,  on the raft, it became bit cumbersome dragging around.  If there was thick kelp, forget it.  I then wrapped a line with a small float around a lead weight, which I placed into a pocket on my wet suit.  This looked great on paper, but in reality didn't work to my satisfaction.  By the time I unwrapped the line I was out of breath and on the surface.  So, I just unwrapped it to start out with and swam with the weight in my hand.  With the weight, a dive light, 10" measure and an abalone bar in my hands it became a burden.  Also the line caught on just about every conceivable thing.  It became more trouble that it was worth.
The original float line consisted of a bleach bottle attached to a 25 foot cord which was clipped to the lanyard on an abalone bar.  The bleach bottle turned out to be too large and buoyant, catching every piece of kelp.  It was more like a sea anchor.  The cord was too thin and short, often ending up in a tangled mess. 

The latest float lines consist of a 40 foot clear tubing (3/8 diameter) which can be purchased in most hardware stores.  Color can be added by spraying paint into the tubing and blowing it through with an air compressor.  You may need to blow it in from both sides.  The ends are sealed with a glue gun.  A small float can be attached to the end but is not necessary because the sealed line will float.  A no float line is preferred because even a small float will hang up in the kelp.

Benefits of using a float line:

- can easily mark a potentially good ledge for abalone and return to the exact spot for further searching
- can mark an abalone for accurate measurement and then make as many dives as necessary to work it out of a hole 
        -  Without the float line this abalone may have been cut and later die.
- can mark an abalone too deep in a hole for the standard length abalone bar, swim back to your raft or boat and get your long    
      bar (36")   
- can show a dive buddy a large abalone in it's natural state before taking
- lose your weight belt or dive light drop your abalone bar with float line to mark the spot
- if marked can be used as a depth gauge
- can easily tell where your dive partner is
- when moving a boat, abalone divers in the water can easily be spotted on the surface or under the water (safety)

While float lines help you to take an abalone I believe that in the long run less are cut and die.

There you have it, the history of the float line.

                           
             

Dive Safe and Good Luck!

 D

Trophy Abalone Hunting

Jack Likins

2/25/2008

INTRODUCTION

I have learned about abalone diving by spending more than 50 years in and around the ocean.  As with any sport, occupation or avocation, you get better as you gain experience.  Physical abilities may diminish with age, but your knowledge, understanding and ability to relax and hold your breath improves as you gain experience.  Time in the water translates into experience and is just as important as physical conditioning for a free diver to become a successful trophy abalone hunter.  Don’t take this to mean that you do not have to be in good shape to be an abalone diver, because you do.  Good physical conditioning can save your life if you get into a physically demanding or life-threatening situation.  An experienced free diver will usually keep himself out of these situations, but any free-diver can get into trouble in an unpredictable ocean environment.  Abalone diving is a combination of experience and physical conditioning.  You will not be a successful trophy hunter without both attributes.  Anyone attempting the sport of abalone free diving should dive with a buddy and have proper training, experience and physical conditioning.

 

DEPTH RANGES

I generally divide my diving areas into three depth ranges: deep (greater than 20’), medium (between 10’ and 20’) and shallow (less than 10’).  I have three reasons for doing this.

 First, certain areas sometimes require deeper diving because of the shear number of divers who access the area.  As you dive deeper, the numbers of divers that are willing/capable of diving deeper is decreased exponentially.  Sometimes by diving deeper, one can find larger and denser abalone populations, but this is not always the case. 

Second, I try to make my deeper dives during the first half of the season (April-June) because of the “Sea Lord”.  I consider White Sharks to be the only animal in the ocean that is higher than myself on the food chain.  Studies show that White Sharks typically migrate to and from the California Coast with the greatest likelihood of being on our coast from August through November.  Deeper waters, especially near drop-offs, always make me feel uncomfortable in “Shark Season”. 

Third, I use different techniques when diving deep than when diving shallow.  When diving deep, I dive fewer times per hour and stay down longer, trying to be on the bottom as much time as possible without wasting my energy going up and down.  Diving in deeper water has other drawbacks.  Usually a diver cannot see the bottom from the surface so he dives blind, hoping to land in good terrain.  In contrast, when I am working in shallow water, I dive many more times per hour and stay down for shorter periods of time.  Again, this is an attempt to maximize bottom time, minimize recovery time and cover as much bottom terrain as possible.

 

After considering the time of the year, I usually make the depth decision based on ocean conditions.  If the surf is larger, I will dive deeper.  If the surf is medium, I will dive medium depths.  If the surf is flat, I will dive in shallower water.  I find the shallower water, usually in the surf zone, to be very productive because it is most often not diveable when waves are breaking over it and oftentimes overlooked by most divers.  Also, most divers don’t like diving this zone because it is very washy and can make them seasick.

 

HUNT FOR TERRAIN

The most important aspect of trophy hunting is looking for the “right” abalone habitat.  The first thing to look for is a rocky substrate with food (kelp for more mature abalone and algae for newly formed abalone that have just settled to the bottom).  Having said this, sometimes I find areas that look perfect for abalone and I find none.  Other times, I see abalones half buried in the sand or in areas where there does not seem to be much food.  Abalones don’t always live in the seemingly most hospitable habitat.  It is easy to look for kelp beds and rocky reefs from the shore, but unless a diver gets into the water and explores he will miss the less obvious underwater structures that are more likely to hold larger abalones.  To find trophies you need to get into the water, cover a lot of terrain and look for the “right” habitat.  Many times the larger abalones are found in less hospitable terrain and in areas with lower than usual abalone density.  It seems like the big ones are either by themselves or near small groups of a few abalones.  If you find an abalone in an area with very low population density (no matter the size), always search the area thoroughly, within a 10’ radius, until you find the bigger old-timers that are likely nearby.  My experience is that abalones tend to congregate, especially in areas where overall densities are low.  The reason for this might be for breeding, protection or food flow.  I don’t think anyone knows for sure.

 

LOOK FOR PROTECTED HABITAT

Many trophy hunters that I know spend a lot of time diving to look for habitat that is not visible from the surface.  They dive many hours and cover a lot of ground.  When I look for terrain, I look for protection from waves and predators, places like small caves, narrow slits and undercuts.  In shallow water, abalone need to be wedged into small cracks or in small caves to protect themselves from the wave action which can wash them off of their rocks.  In deeper water, abalones generally seem to be more exposed because they are not as susceptible to waves.  I have seen hundreds of abalone washed up onto the shore and into tide pools during winter storm periods of high surf.  This is because they have migrated too far into the surf zone without enough protection.

 

Another factor to look for when searching terrain is shifting sand.  An area that fills in with sand during certain times of the year will never support abalone even though it looks good when you are there.  Generally there is more sand in a cove during the late summer and early fall than the winter, spring and early summer.

 

DIVING EQUIPMENT

I wear a 7 mm Picasso wetsuit.  It consists of two pieces: a farmer John and a top with attached hood.  There are no zippers and it is very flexible so I am able to contort my body as necessary without letting cold water into my suit.  Of course good quality gloves and booties are also a must for warmth.  When selecting a mask, fins and snorkel, my suggestion is to go with what fits and feels best.  Comfort is a key to being able to relax and maximize bottom time while abalone diving.  I also carry a small, sharp dive knife attached to the chest of my wetsuit for easy access in case I get tangled in something (kelp, fishing line, netting, etc.)  I carry a small flashlight so that I can look into caves and under rocks.  Lights are important when diving deeper, under kelp or in murky water.  I almost always dive with a light on my left wrist, a ten-inch gauge on my right wrist and my abalone iron stuck into my weight belt with a 45’ float line attached to it.  At the top of the float line, I attach a small float capable of supporting a limit of abalone in my game bag hung beneath it.  All of my equipment is as streamlined to my body as possible.  I try to make myself seal-like in form so that nothing can get caught on my equipment or body.  Oh, and don’t forget, starting in 2008, you must take your abalone report card, a pen and ties into the water with you while diving.  According to the new laws you must fill out the card and the tag and then attach a tag to each abalone with the tie, as soon as you reach the beach.

 

DIVING TECHNIQUES

When hunting, if I find good terrain or see an abalone that I want to measure, I pull my abalone iron out of my weight belt and leave it on the bottom.  Then I surface, plan my next dive and get a good breath of air before descending, following the floating line back to my abalone iron.  If I see a trophy abalone that I think may be difficult to extract, I may dive several more times to best plan my approach so that I don’t damage the abalone or allow him to clamp down before I can get my iron under him.  When planning subsequent dives, you must be careful not to let the abalone know you are there.  They have eyes and can detect light, shadows, and water movement.  Not only will abalones clamp to rocks if they sense you, but sometimes they will even “run” to the back of a crevice, making extraction more difficult.

 

ALWAYS LOOK UP

When looking in crevices and caves, always look under rocks.  Most of the trophy abalones that I have found are attached to the tops of crevices or under rocks and are upside down.  To see these abalones requires that you get flat to the bottom, sometimes on your back, and look up.

 

ONLY TAKE WHAT YOU CAN EAT

Trophy hunting is much different than meat hunting.  In some of the places that I dive, a person can literally make one descent, pick a limit of abalones and return to the shore within 10 minutes.  This is meat hunting.  When I trophy hunt, I usually stay in the water 1-2 hours and many times never take an abalone.  Sometimes, like a few other trophy hunters that I know, I will find a 10-incher that looks young, healthy and seems to be “streaking” in growth, and I will leave it to grow some more.  He will be there next year and he will be even bigger!

 

Good luck, have fun and be safe.

Jack Likins

 

SENIOR TROPHY DIVERS (over 60)

                                         Eric Anderson

 Ten rules on how not to look or act when diving with the young pack.

 

  1. Putting on dive gear….When bending over to put on your wetsuit, booties, fins, etc. Never grunt or groan. Many older divers have this habit. Smile and pretend it doesn’t hurt.

 

  1.  Mouth shut…..Many older divers walk and sit with their mouths open. Do not open your mouth until you are ready to put in your snorkel.

 

  1. Hearing problem….If you can’t make out all of the conversation going on between other divers. Never, never turn an ear towards the speaker and say HUH? A sure sign of age.

 

  1. Gloating….If your abs, fish, scallops are larger than the young divers just make sure they see that they are bigger. A smile will do the trick, words are not necessary.

 

  1. Good old days….Never refer to diving being so much better in the good old days. This is a trick of the non-productive senior divers.

 

  1. Stand erect and straight….Many senior divers slump their shoulders and hang their heads downward. This is a big no no. Walk tall.

 

  1. Be involved with choices….Don’t let young divers take control of everything. You should be heard.

 

  1. Choice of dive gear …. We all have our favorite dive gear. Never tell a young diver which gear is better. It’s okay to explain to them your choice, but only if they ask.

 

  1. CFG abalone tags…. Never ask for help reading or filling out the data on the ab cards.  Have your glasses with you (on your float), or better yet wear contact lens. (the youngsters won’t even know if you have on contacts)

 

  1. Physically fit….Keep in shape. This probably is the most important of the 10 rules. With knowledge, experience, and staying physically fit you’ll have the edge.

 

…………………………………………………………………      *Exception to the rules….It’s okay to have young divers carry your weight belt to and from the dive site..


 

Trophy Abalone Hunting

Jack Likins

2/25/2008

INTRODUCTION

I have learned about abalone diving by spending more than 50 years in and around the ocean.  As with any sport, occupation or avocation, you get better as you gain experience.  Physical abilities may diminish with age, but your knowledge, understanding and ability to relax and hold your breath improves as you gain experience.  Time in the water translates into experience and is just as important as physical conditioning for a free diver to become a successful trophy abalone hunter.  Don’t take this to mean that you do not have to be in good shape to be an abalone diver, because you do.  Good physical conditioning can save your life if you get into a physically demanding or life-threatening situation.  An experienced free diver will usually keep himself out of these situations, but any free-diver can get into trouble in an unpredictable ocean environment.  Abalone diving is a combination of experience and physical conditioning.  You will not be a successful trophy hunter without both attributes.  Anyone attempting the sport of abalone free diving should dive with a buddy and have proper training, experience and physical conditioning.

 

DEPTH RANGES

I generally divide my diving areas into three depth ranges: deep (greater than 20’), medium (between 10’ and 20’) and shallow (less than 10’).  I have three reasons for doing this.

 First, certain areas sometimes require deeper diving because of the shear number of divers who access the area.  As you dive deeper, the numbers of divers that are willing/capable of diving deeper is decreased exponentially.  Sometimes by diving deeper, one can find larger and denser abalone populations, but this is not always the case. 

Second, I try to make my deeper dives during the first half of the season (April-June) because of the “Sea Lord”.  I consider White Sharks to be the only animal in the ocean that is higher than myself on the food chain.  Studies show that White Sharks typically migrate to and from the California Coast with the greatest likelihood of being on our coast from August through November.  Deeper waters, especially near drop-offs, always make me feel uncomfortable in “Shark Season”. 

Third, I use different techniques when diving deep than when diving shallow.  When diving deep, I dive fewer times per hour and stay down longer, trying to be on the bottom as much time as possible without wasting my energy going up and down.  Diving in deeper water has other drawbacks.  Usually a diver cannot see the bottom from the surface so he dives blind, hoping to land in good terrain.  In contrast, when I am working in shallow water, I dive many more times per hour and stay down for shorter periods of time.  Again, this is an attempt to maximize bottom time, minimize recovery time and cover as much bottom terrain as possible.

 

After considering the time of the year, I usually make the depth decision based on ocean conditions.  If the surf is larger, I will dive deeper.  If the surf is medium, I will dive medium depths.  If the surf is flat, I will dive in shallower water.  I find the shallower water, usually in the surf zone, to be very productive because it is most often not diveable when waves are breaking over it and oftentimes overlooked by most divers.  Also, most divers don’t like diving this zone because it is very washy and can make them seasick.

 

HUNT FOR TERRAIN

The most important aspect of trophy hunting is looking for the “right” abalone habitat.  The first thing to look for is a rocky substrate with food (kelp for more mature abalone and algae for newly formed abalone that have just settled to the bottom).  Having said this, sometimes I find areas that look perfect for abalone and I find none.  Other times, I see abalones half buried in the sand or in areas where there does not seem to be much food.  Abalones don’t always live in the seemingly most hospitable habitat.  It is easy to look for kelp beds and rocky reefs from the shore, but unless a diver gets into the water and explores he will miss the less obvious underwater structures that are more likely to hold larger abalones.  To find trophies you need to get into the water, cover a lot of terrain and look for the “right” habitat.  Many times the larger abalones are found in less hospitable terrain and in areas with lower than usual abalone density.  It seems like the big ones are either by themselves or near small groups of a few abalones.  If you find an abalone in an area with very low population density (no matter the size), always search the area thoroughly, within a 10’ radius, until you find the bigger old-timers that are likely nearby.  My experience is that abalones tend to congregate, especially in areas where overall densities are low.  The reason for this might be for breeding, protection or food flow.  I don’t think anyone knows for sure.

 

LOOK FOR PROTECTED HABITAT

Many trophy hunters that I know spend a lot of time diving to look for habitat that is not visible from the surface.  They dive many hours and cover a lot of ground.  When I look for terrain, I look for protection from waves and predators, places like small caves, narrow slits and undercuts.  In shallow water, abalone need to be wedged into small cracks or in small caves to protect themselves from the wave action which can wash them off of their rocks.  In deeper water, abalones generally seem to be more exposed because they are not as susceptible to waves.  I have seen hundreds of abalone washed up onto the shore and into tide pools during winter storm periods of high surf.  This is because they have migrated too far into the surf zone without enough protection.

 

Another factor to look for when searching terrain is shifting sand.  An area that fills in with sand during certain times of the year will never support abalone even though it looks good when you are there.  Generally there is more sand in a cove during the late summer and early fall than the winter, spring and early summer.

 

DIVING EQUIPMENT

I wear a 7 mm Picasso wetsuit.  It consists of two pieces: a farmer John and a top with attached hood.  There are no zippers and it is very flexible so I am able to contort my body as necessary without letting cold water into my suit.  Of course good quality gloves and booties are also a must for warmth.  When selecting a mask, fins and snorkel, my suggestion is to go with what fits and feels best.  Comfort is a key to being able to relax and maximize bottom time while abalone diving.  I also carry a small, sharp dive knife attached to the chest of my wetsuit for easy access in case I get tangled in something (kelp, fishing line, netting, etc.)  I carry a small flashlight so that I can look into caves and under rocks.  Lights are important when diving deeper, under kelp or in murky water.  I almost always dive with a light on my left wrist, a ten-inch gauge on my right wrist and my abalone iron stuck into my weight belt with a 45’ float line attached to it.  At the top of the float line, I attach a small float capable of supporting a limit of abalone in my game bag hung beneath it.  All of my equipment is as streamlined to my body as possible.  I try to make myself seal-like in form so that nothing can get caught on my equipment or body.  Oh, and don’t forget, starting in 2008, you must take your abalone report card, a pen and ties into the water with you while diving.  According to the new laws you must fill out the card and the tag and then attach a tag to each abalone with the tie, as soon as you reach the beach.

 

DIVING TECHNIQUES

When hunting, if I find good terrain or see an abalone that I want to measure, I pull my abalone iron out of my weight belt and leave it on the bottom.  Then I surface, plan my next dive and get a good breath of air before descending, following the floating line back to my abalone iron.  If I see a trophy abalone that I think may be difficult to extract, I may dive several more times to best plan my approach so that I don’t damage the abalone or allow him to clamp down before I can get my iron under him.  When planning subsequent dives, you must be careful not to let the abalone know you are there.  They have eyes and can detect light, shadows, and water movement.  Not only will abalones clamp to rocks if they sense you, but sometimes they will even “run” to the back of a crevice, making extraction more difficult.

 

ALWAYS LOOK UP

When looking in crevices and caves, always look under rocks.  Most of the trophy abalones that I have found are attached to the tops of crevices or under rocks and are upside down.  To see these abalones requires that you get flat to the bottom, sometimes on your back, and look up.

 

ONLY TAKE WHAT YOU CAN EAT

Trophy hunting is much different than meat hunting.  In some of the places that I dive, a person can literally make one descent, pick a limit of abalones and return to the shore within 10 minutes.  This is meat hunting.  When I trophy hunt, I usually stay in the water 1-2 hours and many times never take an abalone.  Sometimes, like a few other trophy hunters that I know, I will find a 10-incher that looks young, healthy and seems to be “streaking” in growth, and I will leave it to grow some more.  He will be there next year and he will be even bigger!

 

Good luck, have fun and be safe.

Jack Likins


 

        

 

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