Sunday, August 21, 2011
What did you do this Summer?
Ned Horton was having that kind of day recently while sight-casting with Jeremy Hostetter in the Chesapeake Bay. We'd been screwing around with a couple of them for a while, casting to see if they were interested," Horton said. "They weren't. So we decided to go in."
Horton and Hostetter are free divers - people who can hold their breath for long periods of time. Often the goal of free diving is to spear fish. That's exactly what Horton had in mind. Wearing an aqua camo-colored wetsuit that helps him blend in with the environment while in the water and carrying a speargun, Horton jumped in and stayed under long enough for the cobia to settle down so he could bang off a good shot.
Horton caught the fish just behind the gill plate. But just like bow hunting deer, the kill is rarely instant, and Horton had his hands full.
"It felt like it lasted about three hours," said Horton, a 21-year-old Hampden-Sydney College senior from Norfolk. "I went under several times and it took several tries to get a good shot. It took about 35 to 40 minutes to get him in.
"He was just so strong. You just have to hold on for dear life.
Horton runs extensively and weight trains. He's battled a 100-pound amberjack while in the water. His recent cobia weighed 78 pounds.
"I've been free diving for about four years now, and it's a worse and worse addiction for me," he said. "It's incredible. But if you are not totally prepared for handling big game, it could kill you. Spearing spadefish and sheepshead and (tautog) is different. Big amberjack or cobia is another animal. You're in their element, and they are 100 times more powerful than you.
"And if you do this alone, even for small fish, it's a death wish."
A licensed boat captain and avid rod-and-reel angler, Horton said he understands that many hook-and line anglers don't like what he does.
Posted by Editor at 11:37 PM