View Full Version : Freediving whos who question
12-01-2003, 08:31 PM
This and the next post will be a couple of photos of a fella I'm pretty proud to hang with and who for a few years, had the pleasure to spearfish with. It's of my father-in-law of the past 2 dozen years. A few years ago, he was one of the lucky guys (out of a field of 180 guys nominated world-wide) to be named as one of the score of guys named as the "Fathers of Freediving" (for personal contributions to enhancing this wonderful sport).
This fella did a bunch (including perfecting a wonderful speargun which I currently use and is pictured in the photo below, called a "Sampson") of technical work for Scubapro, U.S. Divers and SAS, testing out and improving their gear, co-owned and co-operated what I believe was the most high class, well equipped and well run dive shops on the West coast for 20 years, and who shot more big White Seabass, yellowtail and calicos than anyone I've ever met or dove with. A consummate sportsman, gentleman and total good guy.
So here's the question; do any of you divers recognize him, know his name (and/or) what was the name of his dive shop? If you spearfished 20-30 years ago, you easily could.....
12-01-2003, 08:36 PM
OK, here's another picture of him that I took out of a book with a little less face camo and a few more fish. These fish were taken just off the Coronado Islands, circa 1960s I believe.
One hint on the name............his last name is a 4 letter word :)
12-01-2003, 09:37 PM
Pretty kewl Freediver. Now I have to go find that book in my house. That book is great ( I think it is the same one).
Never really got into it that much. Did the old grab and anchor and drop down to get a mask once 50' water off Catalina. My buddy would know him in a heart beat. He use to do some freediving with all those guys back around '82. Made me a great spear. But I always blew bubbles instead of holding my breath (guess skip breathing doesn't count http://www.jesseshunting.com/forums/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smiley-hitting-self.gif ). Always admired you freedivers.
12-01-2003, 09:46 PM
Freedivr2, LOL the picture has his name on it "Omar Wood". What city did he have his shop in
12-02-2003, 05:11 AM
What is that first fish? Is it a cobia,kinda hard to tell from the pic..
12-02-2003, 08:08 AM
The huge one on the left is a Black Sea Bass or knowns as a (Grouper) and the other 2 are White Sea Bass.
12-02-2003, 08:54 AM
Yep i recognize the Grouper. NEver have seen a white sea bass,we dont have them in Florida that I know of. Thanks
12-02-2003, 02:14 PM
Thonz..........good one, guess I was a little sleepy when posting pics last night, huh?
Omar Wood and Ron Merker owned the "Aquatic Center" dive shops. Their main shop was in Newport Beach right on Coast Hwy and Newport Blvd (next to Howards restaurant) and the other shop was on Harbor Blvd. in Santa Ana.
The fish in the first pic is a big Whiteseabass, taken down in Baja. Get this.......shot him just outside the surf line, how bout that for some action in shallow?
12-02-2003, 10:28 PM
I knew Ron Merker slightly when I worked in a dive shop in Huntington Beach but sure don't remember the other gentleman.
I saw a great presentation one time by a member of a Long Beach free diving club, wish I remembered his name. He showed how they made their guns and the fishing techniques they used, along with some great slides of the action and the catch.
12-03-2003, 07:09 AM
Grey...........I bet you didn't know Ron when he was this young, though......
That club in Long Beach..........the Neptune dive club? Could've been any number of folks speaking on how to approach fish and the ins and outs of guns, but it also could've been Omar. Both he and Ron have done their share of speaking engagements and they did pretty much perfect the 1st big time, big game speargun (again, a Sampson and again, in the picture here with Ron). Both wonderful gentlemen. Ron was quite a character, the extrovert of the two, Omar was more of the "silent" (LOL) partner type.
Great pictures, have a dive buddy that used to dive with some of them famous type blue water divers, boy, he has some stories. Makes my single band gun and rock cod seem like sissy stuff. :big grin santa hat:
12-03-2003, 11:29 PM
Dan.........here's some of my favorite shooters. The one third from the right is my blue water gun (the Sampson/the one I always seem to grab nowadays)....the other two on the right are more for calicos in the rocks or halibut kinda shootin (Voit sawed-off magnum on the far right, Scubapro between that and the Sampson). The shooters on the left are Voit magnums, one of them about 30 years old.
But what's REALLY a hoot........shootin corbina (and sometimes, halibut) in the surfline from Aug to October, best when the Santa Ana winds are blowing a little and the waves are flat and water warm. Great fun, I'll have to post up some kinda cool pole spears I've got sometime (collapsable, take down, fiberglass, etc.).
P.S....spearfishing nowadays is a lot different than it was just 15 years ago. Today's blue water divers (guys like Terry Maas, etc.) use things like bouyancy floats to help land their fish (so they can now take and land much bigger fish). Their big thing nowadays is to stalk em and shoot em. I don't know why I have an issue with that, but I do. There's more to it than just stalking and shooting to me. That almost seems like having a helicopter (or a guide) get your deer out of the woods after you shoot it. I'm still stupid enough to freedive the way the old timers used to do it (and I guess I'm in that category now, being 52)......just you, the gun and the fish, and you kinda work it all out without assistance. Shoot em, grab em, kill em and put em on a stringer or hold on to their gill plate seperator and swim them in. Maybe it's reverence for the fish or something, I dunno. Course, with the size fish I always shoot, who the heck needs a bouyancy float anyway (LOL)?
12-04-2003, 07:28 AM
FD2, I admire your old-school-ness. I am the same way with my fishing tackle. But shooting those open water fish with a float line is the only way possible. I have watched my brother spear several 30-40lb yellows in Baja. There is no way you are gonna grab one of those and swim it back while its is still green. Unless you stone it with your shot. Next time we are shark fishin I want you to test your method on a mako, OK? LOL.
BTW, I heard the WSB are in at Rocky Point.
The current guys on the scene are the Riffe's. The pretty much have the market cornered now. Check out http://www.speargun.com. The prices on these things are outrageous. You could easier buy a rifle cheaper.
Copy and paste this link for a pic of my bro and a floatline yellowtail. This was one of many, many fish that day. Note the camo wetsuit. Supposed to look like a kelp paddy.
12-04-2003, 08:07 PM
SDHNTR..........you don't know the stubborn monster very well yet, do you? :)
I'm sure the float lines work well, particularly with BIG or GREEN (or both) fish. However, many, many, many, many HUGE fish (take a look at the pics in the first and second posts, again) have been taken over a long period of time with the use of "poppers" (a float bag with a CO2 cartridge that you activate, then clip to your speargun). This allowed the diver to use both his hands (leather gloves) to put pressure on the line and slow the fish down as it runs, similar to a drag on one of those old fishing reels you and I have......This was crucial for shooting grouper, as they always seem to head for their holes in the reef, and they had to be stopped before they got there or your spear and fish were gunna be goners.
On yellowtail, I was taught NEVER to try to take em green and also NEVER let them run too far, just keep the pressure on and let them tire out a little before you grab em (least the bigger ones, so I hear.....biggest I've gotten was that 19 lb. fish.....plenty of spunk, though, and you know how strong fish are compared to you under water....). Those kinda whacko fish can get in the kelp and then you end up cutting and then losing more of your poly line than the fish is worth. Bringing them in too close and green and the fish ends up putting the hurt on you! I don't know if I told you about an anxious moment I had with a 20+ lb. Sheephead that I shot, thought it was a lateral line shot, it was curved and still, put a stringer thru the gill plate, was holding pretty tight, but when I started pulling out a gill, it came alive, trashing around BIG TIME, couldn't hold on, knocked off my mask and all I could think about was not being able to see, with blood all around me, and then of course my stupid little mind thinks the thought of...........
That was an anxious next few minutes for sure............
Anyway, I'm stickin to the "old" way, and you know why.......cause we are stuck with our old methods sometimes just cause I guess......
12-05-2003, 07:12 AM
Just wanted to razz ya a bit. You like to catch fish like I like to catch pigs. Get this, I thinking of building a flyrod for next summer's sharking. Would be fun on yellows and tuna too.
12-06-2003, 07:37 AM
Great.......looks like we'll be changing your handle from DWP to DWS.............
I wonder if he knew George who owned a shop in O.C. I did alot of diving but not the free stuff.I used to bang big flatties during the santa anas also. I have two kids now but did alot of things then I wouldn't do now. Great memories. BDOG
12-09-2003, 11:41 PM
BDOG......George? Probably so, if he had a shop in O.C. from 1960-1980, he was a competitor of the Aquatic Centers. Next time I see him I'll try to remember to ask about that. Any chance you remember the name of that shop?
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