Went out on the water for a couple days this week. My friend Brian is visiting and was lucky on the weather, after the week or so of very windy weather, the wind died the days after he got here. He brought me a new gun but I will talk about that later. We had some good to very good visibility this week. The vis on the reef line was mostly very good south of Key West but I was told by some other people who were out that the vis was bad west of western dry rocks.

First day we went, it was Cal, Brian and Luis. We tried to freedive the vandenburg but it was a mess out there. We got there early and had just enough time to get in the water before every scuba boat in Key West showed up. We had fun diving on it anyway, I made it almost to the deck before my float line ran out. If there is any current 80 feet of float line is only good for around 60 foot dives. Cal threw on a tank and went down and shot a mutton real quick before we left. As we were leaving some guys who looked like they were dressed as astronauts showed up. They had double tanks on, pony bottles and hoses sticking out in every direction, it was amazing.

We went in and hit the reef. I shot a 6# mangrove which might be one of the biggest I ever shot. I think I shot a bigger one in the gulf last June but I didn’t weigh it. I know 6# is not that big but it kind of is for mangroves on the Atlantic side of the Keys. Cal shot a 3# yellowtail. We thought it was bigger but it’s still one of the larger yellowtail that has been shot on our boat. I usually don’t weigh snappers but I am going to start just out of curiosity to see if we get any bigger ones. Luis saw a monster king fish but could not get close to it. There were some amberjacks around but now that the water is warmer and they are smaller, I have stopped shooting them. The big schools of Yellow jacks have also dispersed. Now when we see them they are usually in groups or 1-3 and are spooky. We got a few anyway but not they were not big like they were a month ago.

Cal threw my mask over board and then I tried wearing Luis’s backup mask but it didn’t fit me right and I had issues with it. Having the right gear really makes or breaks the day. Luis almost lost a fin and went nuts trying to dive for it with no fins on.

The next day Luis, Brian, Andy and I went out. The vis was more variable and we dove in 20-80 feet of vis throughout the day. We hit some ledges and picked up some snapper and I shot a small king fish but it tore off. We trooped around it bit and found very clear water in front of Key West. We shot some snappers and hogs but nothing that big or exciting. On one ledge we could have got the boat limit on black grouper if the season was open. We dove on the wreck in 80 feet of water, Andy shot a AJ and two monster jewfish came up off the wreck to try to eat it. Luckily they backed down once they were 10-15 feet from the surface.

I got a shot on a big king and blew it, I had one band loaded and thought I could just hit with one band, of course as soon as I got close it moved out a bit and I lost the shot.

Which brings me to my new Mastropietro gun, which Brian made for me. I have to admit I have always been skeptical of high end spearfishing gear. Sometimes you get what you pay for but in some things, especially things involving extreme sports where the primary buyers are young men, you can pay WAY more then what you get. Now after using this gun for a couple days I think I am sold on the whole enclosed track wood gun thing. He made the gun with an auto line release, so that you don’t have to play with the line release before each load. The shaft just clicks smoothly into place with almost no effort. The track holds the shaft in place and eliminates a lot of user error. The shaft can not flop out of alignment, the mono can not wrap around the shaft or get under it, like it can with a rail gun. I know that the track is supposed to be more for shooting accuracy, but being able to load quickly and easily is almost just as important to me. Any cheap rail gun will shoot straight if the bands are tied right, in my opinion and I wasn’t missing many fish with the rabitech. The Mastropietro gun is a bit shorter then my rabitech, and it took a little getting used to the way it tracks through water, but all in all it has been awesome. I have not shot any big fish with it yet, but I have shot through 7# mutton at the far end of the mono. I think the gun may shoot a bit low with three bands loaded on it but I have to test it more. The only thing left to test is longer range on bigger fish, which will be on May 1st the opening of grouper season. The Mastropietro gun shoots with a double wrap about a foott further then the Rabitech with a single wrap. I have taken the double wrap off the rabitech recently because frankly it was not needed to shoot ajs, yjs and cobia. I will see if the shorter guns range is enough, frankly I don’t think I’ve shot fish at the end of the double wrap on the rabitech, but I know I shot some a few feet past the range of a single wrap. I am hopeful the new gun will work just fine but it may be a bit short.