RECAP OF THE 2021 WFSC BEAVER LAKE, ARKANSAS, AUG 20-23
In a COVID year few events really happened, especially international events, as most of the world could not travel due to restrictions. COVID Lock down 🙁 ! However, we felt it was important to keep the WFSC momentum rolling. After 2 great events: 2017 in Lake Mead Las Vegas USA and 2019 in Lake Taupo, New Zealand, it was super important to continue to build.
Come event day we had 44 divers from 8 countries
2 world record Drum were shot
Everyone got fish.
Many stripers over 20 lbs were taken and 3 over 30 lbs.
Guam, as normal, brought its fun enthusiastic group that kept the fun energy up all the time—Thanks to Monique
Hawaii brought in their very best and it showed: Fun loving, best friends, and super strong and competitive in the water. They turned it on!
Hana took #1 masters diver in the World, Bruce and Hana were the #1 Masters team in the world and the finished 2nd and 4th overall individually and 2nd place team over all.
Justin and Uhane took 3rd and 16th place overall and 6th place team in the World, Great work by our newest youngest world competitor. Uhane Rocks.
Calvin was the comeback Kid: After 14th place on day one Calvin had to play catch up, and then came carp day and he took 2nd place. That move him up to 6th place diver in the World and 4th place team in the World
Congratulations to a super strong Hawaiian team and effort.
Our brightest Highlight of this World event was Getting 6 Ukrainian divers into the USA during COVID to dive the WFSC, A Huge that THNAK You to our State Dept for pushing to make this happen.
After day 1 Oleksandr Halaktoinov, Alex for short, was top diver by 20 points, to Justin Lee on a 70-point scale, a 24 lb striper really helped. Moving into day 2 the pressure was on for him to
hold the lead, As the Hawaiians, were especially known to destroy teams with large quantities of carp. I think these stories just fueled his fire and he rose to the occasion with 8 more fish than the
nearest diver Calvin, and near triple the fish of most divers. Alex had taken 1st place on both Days to win this WFSC. His partner Maksym Holovianko, Max for short, took a 3rd and 6th to support
their team win overall. TOP MENS TEAM IN THE WORLD!
Also from Ukraine was our top Mixed doubles Team and top woman diver: Svetlana Mayorova & Dmytro Chuniukin
Shelby Peterson of the USA had Svetlana by .35 points on day one, but that second day all the Ukrainian divers excelled. And Svetlana IS the best Woman diver in the World.
Dmytro won our biggest striper contest and got another big striper on day 1 to help bring their team to win, Top Mixed Team in the World. Well, done by all.
2 more great Ukrainian performances were turned in by Andrii Lagutin & Anzhela Holovianko not diving as a team they helped bring their teams into 3rd and 5th place
Anzhela was not a planned diver until she got in the water and fell in love with Beaver Lake, she took 4th place each day in the women’s division and ended up 4th overall in the
Andrii is a well-known World class dive, and it was an honor to have at our event. Andrii was 3rd place on Game fish day, 1st place on rough fish day and 2nd place over all in the world for the master’s division to
Hana of Hawaii. He was also teamed up with Mike Kennedy of the USA and they took 3rd place team for the overall event. And Andrii took largest rough fish for the entire event 34 lb Grass carp.
Super well done for limited scouting, in a new lake, with a new buddy and lots of logistical challenges—Andrii has done this well for nearly 30 years in any water he competes in.
This was not meant to be a review of everyone’s performance, but we need to mention a few more divers that really did well. For great stories read below to hear it from them.
This should have been a quick review of the top highlights :):
2 top USA gals got their biggest striper every Maya and Cavel.
Top performances were also turned in by 3 men’s divers from the USA
Matt Suiter took a 4th place each day of the events to land him 2nd place over all in the Men’s World division. Consistence pays and Matt trains, preps, and has focused on this goal for a long time.
Wesley Stuart took a 4th on big striper day, a 3rd and 5th on events days and was 4th place in the Men’s World division. Not bad as he scouted for Matt Suiter most of the time.
Mike Van Haele took a 4th and 5th in the Master division and ended up 4th overall in the Masters World division, he also shot the largest striper of the event 33.5 lbs.
Mike and Wesley also to 5th overall as a team.
USA had 2 Mixed teams do very well: 2nd place team in the World Shelby and Ryan Peterson &. 3rd place team in the world Kenny and Maya Western.
Shelby and Maya were the #2 & #3 top women divers in the World
Also Placing 4th in the Mixed Teams was Brandi and Anne from the USA. They were 5th and & 6th place top Women divers in the World as well
Most improved are our Baja brothers Mike Kennedy and Mike Livingston, from the USA. Individually they finished 8th and 7th, and, on their teams, they place 3rd and 4th, IN THE WORLD,
This is a huge step for them, and they were last minute fill ins for divers that could not make it—super well done to come in late, new lake, new buddies, new game. Way to adapt and learn.
A Final thanks to all our sponsors and those who helped, Especially Don and Dale our Photo Master. “Many hands make light work”—Thank You all!! YOU made this happen.
Story from: Spencer Vivian
First and foremost, I want to thank all of those who take the time and effort to put these events together. They are a great way for all of us to get together and learn from each other. Secondly, I want to thank all of the amazing sponsors who donated and made it possible for us to have such an amazing event.
After a 16-hour drive pulling a boat I arrived at a lake I had never dove before. I was able to meet up with my dive partner Kelston McGuire who was able to get down a few days before me to scout. What an amazing lake to explore, with so many coves and arms it made it a challenge to know where to begin and where to look. We decided on our first day of scouting to try and find the rough fish. We found a few areas that were holding nice drum but could not find a carp all day. A little discouraged we kept at it and explored as many areas as we could. Towards the end of the day, we found a gem of a spot for striper. As I dove, dive after dive being schooled by striper, I was wishing I had a gun in my hand. Funny enough a boat approached me and it ended up being Justin Lee and his partner. Trying to act cool, I tried to small talk him…. Little did I know his boat guide was marking fish left and right on the fishfinder and called me out on it LOL! The next day was the striper derby. Not feeling confident we decided to use a little strategy and scout the morning for more rough fish. We also used this time to our advantage and got out early to see everyone’s hot spots for striper in case we needed one on game fish day. We also wanted to test our Striper spot in the afternoon again to see if it would hold fish for us. Sure enough we spotted several teams hiding spots that I heard held striper. We spent most of the morning exploring and finding drum and carp. One of the highlights was dropping down to 70ft and finding crystal clear water. We also found a helicopter cabled down in 45ft of water as well as some welded scuba statues out in the middle of the channel. About noon we knew we should probably try out our spot for striper. Within 20 minutes of getting there we were on. Kelston made a drop and shot a smaller striper, I knew I needed to make an immediate drop as he was coming up and they would be attracted to the commotion. When I hit the thermocline, I was schooled by 25 big striper. I didn’t know which one to shoot and waited till last minute and pulled the trigger. I managed to wrangle in the 2nd place biggest striper at almost 21lbs for the derby and we were stoked! It was personal best for me, and striper are one of my favorite fish to hunt.
Competition days were a learning experience for me as I am new to the sport. We didn’t prioritize our fish and started all wrong. We went for striper and walleye first thing early morning where we consistently saw them in the afternoon. My best spot held a quarter of what it did, and I only managed two walleye, one being over 4lbs, and a catfish. I should have had two catfish but one managed to tear off with a bad shot. I did find a school of striper and managed to shoot an 8lber even though I should have waited to go and hunt my best striper zone. With so much time wasted we left our best spots right as the stripers began to heat up because we needed to look for drum. With 2 hours left I thought no big deal shouldn’t be hard to get three. Wrong again lol, I only managed two small ones even though I had found large ones the morning previous. This hurt my standings pretty badly and I knew I had to try to make up for it the next day. On rough fish day we decided to give it our all did 1 minute up and 1 minute down all day. 154 dives and 3 hours and 8minutes of bottom time later it was done. I managed to pull in half carp and half drum to take a 5th place for day two. Not enough to make up for the mistakes the day before but landed me a 9th place finish overall. Thank you Brett for being our boat captain once again, we could not have done it without all your help. Waking up early each morning, bringing fish bags, and overall motivating us to do our best, we owe you big time! Thank you to my partner Kelston McGuire for putting up with me and not diving with his dad Mike McGuire. I have learned so much from his experience and it has made me a better diver. It was great meeting new people as well as seeing old friends and hope to be able to participate again in the future.
Story from: Matt Suiter
Since being notified that I made the US team for this year’s Worlds I knew I needed to step up my game to be competitive with all the other great divers that would be attending. I don’t have the experience like some of the other divers and knew I wouldn’t be able to get as good as them over night so I needed something else to give me a leg up. My plan was to get my cardio up to allow me to do as many dives as possible without getting tired. I put myself on a strict regimen that consisted of: Hot yoga 1-2 times a week min, Mountain biking a min of 2 times a week, Breath hold exercises 4 times a week, and a clean diet. These activities were in addition to my already consistent 6 day a week weightlifting/cardio routine.
We arrived in Arkansas a week before the competition. Scouting wasn’t the best. I was having some sinus issues plus he visibility and type of conditions are not what I’m used to. Where we dive in Nevada we can have 40′ visibility so going to murky water where you can’t see the bottom before you dive makes everything a bit trying. For the gamefish day we found 3 locations where the catfish and walleye consistently were holding up. We were not too worried about striper because our hired gun of a captain is a master at getting big striper in Beaver Lake. Although he did mention in 30-60days from the competition day is when there are bigger numbers of large striper within the boundaries of the tournament. For the rough fish day we found two areas where every time we took a drop we saw multiple carp and drum so we exited those areas immediately to not disturb the fish.
Tournament Day1(Game Fish)The strategy was to limit out on striper, catfish ,drum and walleye. We didn’t care about the size we just wanted to get our limits. The small 1-3lb walleye were still in the spots that we scouted. It quickly got my limit on walleye but the cats were nowhere to be found. We must have seen over 15 cats scouting but nothing on the tournament day. We decided to hit one more area where we saw a group of catfish while scouting. As I dove down through some murk I landed on a rocky area with good viz in about only 18′ of water. I looked right then I looked left. On my left I saw a monster Drum that was facing away from me and had no clue I was there. I shot and stoned him, poor guy had no idea what hit him. I handed the fish over to our capitan(Dusty Yarbrough) and my Dad(our Deckhand) then went back to look for more fish. I took a few more drops then heard Dusty and my Dad yell at me to say they weighed my drum and at 23.5lbs I now had the new world record beating the old record that was held by Wes Stewart at about 19lbs(The official weight came in at 22lbs at the end of the day). After that we decided to get a striper in some deeper areas we knew they were hanging at. We should have waited a little longer to attempt some deeper dives for striper because I couldn’t stop smiling during my breathup. I was so stoked about the drum that I’m sure my heart was racing. I ended up nabbing only a 7 pound striper, a far cry from the 20 pounds I was shooting for to get 20pt max. At this point I was maxed out on my walleye, drum and striper. We spent the rest of the day looking for catfish and one more drum/walleye for my dive partner Courtney Esprecion to get his limit but just couldn’t find them.
After day one I was in the number 4 spot in the Men’s division as an individual. The new World Record Drum helped my score immensely.
Tournament Day2(Rough Fish)The plan for today was to get at least 30 Carp and Drum a piece but I was really shooting for 40+. As we waited for 7am to come we noticed other divers pulling into our #2 and #3 spots. We slid into our #1 spot and started hunting. We were a hour into the day and I only had 2 carp but we were in a very large area so I was hopeful that the fish were still around but just pushed into other spots. My 3rd fish of the day turned out to be a very large Gar. I took a dive and hit the bottom at about 20′ next to multiple dead trees. I stayed down for about 1:30 not seeing anything. Right when I was about to head to the surface I just saw teeth out of the corner of my eye. The gar was so close I had to pull my gun back and pointed the spear directly on its head. When I shot, the spear went right through his gill plate only leaving the line just behind his head. That fish went ballistic. I quickly recalled in the safety meeting they said not to grab it by the mouth but in my mind that was the only logical place to grab it. Those teeth were sharp! I hollered at the boat to come grab it because I couldn’t get my knife into its head. The fish was so tangled I figured it would be easier to just offload it to Dusty and my Dad. That thing was still all over the place so Dusty shouted out(with his very pronounced Arkansa accent) “You wanna keep this skull? If not, I’m going to beat it in the head with this wrench!” which was all of a sudden in his hand. “Do your thing man” I said then went back to looking for carp. I took a few more drops just not seeing anything at all. On all of our scouting days we were seeing the rough fish between 17-23′. I decided to do a couple more deeper dives to see if they were at a different depth. I started doing a few dives at 30-35′ just below the thermocline. I still wasn’t seeing anything. Then on one dive I saw a carp swimming right towards me. As I was about to take the shot I saw stripes, a 20 pound striper swam in front of me. I couldn’t resist and stoned him. As I started to surface with the fish dangling down at the end of my shaft, what looked to be an even larger striper swam between my fins. It was pretty wild! With game fish not counting for the day’s points, my head went to “I hope I don’t lose by 1pt for taking out this bad boy and also where were you yesterday! “The rest of the day was extremely disappointing. I was honestly diving the best I ever had. I was having great breatholds and felt extremely calm but just wasn’t seeing the fish. The couple areas we saw fish in the scout just weren’t turning up any fish. My Dad and Dusty were watching a lot of other dive boats cruzing all over. Their thoughts were that other people were moving because they weren’t seeing much either. We decided that instead of traveling long distances to other parts of the lake where we had seen only some rough fish, we would just stay somewhat close to where we were, get as much time in the water and make every fish count. That turned out to be the correct call. When the day was tallied up I ended up in 2nd place in the Men’s Division. I was beyond stoked. It wasn’t the funnest diving with the dark murky water. In fact it kind of sucked sometimes but I had an absolutely fantastic time! My whole family made the trip out to Arkansas and that just made everything 10 times better. My kids loved seeing all the fish. Beaver Lake was beautiful. I can’t wait to get back out there.
Story from: Anne Doherty
I have had the privilege of having Brandi as a dive partner since the first Women’s CMAS World Meet in Iquique, Chile in 2004. We dove WFSC New Zealand in 2019, 2 national freshwater meets, and now WFSC Beaver Lake, Arkansas. Happily, and finally, it is nice to see more and more women in the sport, and to see them welcomed to world competition. We are just as bada** as the men! I am so proud of Svetlana for crushing the women’s division this year! Congratulations, you dove a great meet! You are an amazing ambassador of women’s spearfishing.
This meet was fun for us in so many ways. The landscape, lake and water were beautiful. I towed my little ‘puff-boat’ down from Massachusetts, and it was great for diving and buzzing around the lake. The geography of the lake was stunning, with so many coves to explore. One day we experienced one of the most beautiful rain storms, with heavy rain pitting the lake and creating an eerie mist across the surface- truly magical. As I wish the fish had been more plentiful, it was fun seeing more variety of species than some other lakes we have been to. Another highlight was the abundant bird life, so many bald eagles, black vultures and scissor-tailed flycatchers flying around the lake. The flexible meet format, with the option of starting at multiple boat ramps in the area was genius. A big plus! As an avid Striper hunter in Rhode Island, it was fun to see some big stripers in the lake, and compare their habits and behaviors to their saltwater buddies. Not really that different. We enjoyed a nice moment in time to just fall back into the simple routine of diving, eating, sleeping for two weeks. Though we didn’t do as well as we had hoped (what happened to all the carp on rough fish day?) we still dove hard, had fun, and caught fish, and recovered about sixty golf balls from one spot.
Perhaps the best part, as is always the case with meets you travel to, is the people, and the lasting impressions they leave with you. We met some wonderful new people, and saw old friends. I was thrilled that Monique brought the Guam team! They brought such a joyous spirit to the meet. Maybe they can host a WFSC soon? And Mike McGuire’s old boat? Great to see that old friend too…. and have a chance to “decorate” the other side it. “Go Guam!” “Ukraine 2023!”.
The first person we met, though, was Don Barthman. He welcomed us into his home as family, shared stories of his long winning diving career in California. His competitive mind is as sharp as ever, and he gave us some invaluable strategy tips for the tournament. Thank you Don and Joyce! Don was also in charge of all the staging and banquet arrangements- I can’t thank him and his sons Ron and Mike, Keith and his son Keith, and others, enough for such a well organized venue- an outstanding effort indeed.
Another highlight was meeting a sweet, kindred soul, Dale Sanders. Not only did he do a spectacular job as photographer, jumping from boat to boat all week giving a first hand look at the action, he also was a formidable competitor himself some years back. What impressed me and makes me smile every time I think of him is how exuberant he is about life! His energy is boundless and infectious. He holds the age record (85) for hiking the Appalachian Trail, and next year, when he turns 87, he will challenge the age record for solo paddling the entirety of the over 2300 mile Mississippi river. God speed to him! He will be my inspiration as I transition out of competitive diving and back to long distance through-hiking this fall.
And then there is Mike Van Haele, what a gem of a man. It is such an honor to know you. You are so deserving of the Athlete of the Year award. Let me know if you ever want to a freshwater dive mixed team! It would be a blast!
Lastly, Mike McGuire…. what can I say…. you are indeed the Dynamo generating all the momentum and passion for the WFSC.
Story from: Maya Western
The 2021 World Freshwater Spearfishing Competition was an incredible experience. I was so stoked when I found out I qualified for Freshwater Worlds. I competed with my Dad, and I was fortunate enough to have my whole family come to support us. Our scouting days were really limited and rough. We saw very few fish and were nervous for how we would do in the competition. Once we started diving we just had fun with it and ended up doing very well. Just when I started to get frustrated from so many dives not seeing any fish, I finally saw a striper and got a good shot in him. Once I had him secure on my float I was ready to go again and finished the last hour strong. My dad and I placed 3rd in mixed teams and I placed 3rd in women’s.
Story from: Kenny Western
Freshwater World’s was an opportunity of a lifetime and even better I was
diving with my daughter Maya. She qualified for a spot in Worlds and invited me, knowing that I would pay for the trip. We came with a plan to scout on Striper day with our boat guide and then dive from shore 3 other scouting days, which ended up being a challenge due to the limited public access spots. Finding fish during the scouting days and even more during the tournament days was a challenge with many lessons learned. On game fish day, I had all drum and on the way back to the boat and with only an hour left in the tournament, I drug my float across a few trees and the hoop popped open loosing my largest fish. Diving hard the last hour I could not find another drum to save my life. We dove hard from start to finish and ended up in 3rd place for the mixed division.
We had an amazing experience, explored a beautiful area, made a great family vacation, had a lot of great diving, met some great friends from around the globe and can’t wait for the next chance to participate in an event like this. Big thanks to all the incredible sponsors, hosts, our boat captain Kevin Rivers and all those that put this event together!
Story from Wesly Stewart
I was out scouting for Matt and Courtney and we felt like another boat was following us to get our spots. Mike and Don later told me that they were following us to make sure it was me on the boat to ask if I would take Don’s spot on the team. I really wanted to relax and watch someone else do the diving that week. I talked it over with the guys on the boat and they were all ok with it. A day later and I was competing in the tournament. I really wasn’t excited about it until 7 am and it was like a switch went off. We got a lot of good fish but in the end we came up a little short. As much as I didn’t want to do anything that week I had a ton of fun diving with Mike and Don and was honored to be on the boat with them. I already miss everyone from the tournament, there is always such a good group of people from all over to share stories with.
Language barrier didn’t stop us from helping another diver get some glue and duct tape the day before competition. It was a tough game of charades but we got it figured out.
Story from: Mike Van Hale
The first day of competition, game fish day, started just like stripper day finished – had a nice size stripper pull off on stripper day and an easy 10 lb. + drum pull off on game fish day. Probably the biggest drum I’d seen all week. From 8:00 am until noon it looked like luck had changed a little bit and I landed 2 drum a little over 10 lbs. each and my partner Wes Stewart had outdone that. Then it looked like luck was really going to change when I settled to the rocky bottom at 30 ft and a 15 lb. or better stripper came right straight in but then turned and went right straight out. I was thinking “oh no, back to my earlier luck!” But then luck changed once more, and the same fish turned dead broadside right at the edge of my visibility. So, I let it fly and luck changed yet again. I saw the white dot where the shaft went through about an inch below the fish’s dorsal fin. Horrible shot! I expected not to even feel a tug; surely the fish would tear off before it hit the end of my shooting line. But I was wrong, and my float line took out like a rocket. I let it go and started up. At about 10 ft as I was still going up, I met my overblown float going down. Now I was at the mercy of my float doing its job. I got to the surface and very shortly after my float reappeared. When I got to my float and grabbed my float line, I was disappointed but not surprised to find there was no tension at all and the fish had surely torn off. I started bringing the line in and suddenly it took out again. Down went the float. The fish made 8 or 10 more runs and did take the float down one more time. On several of the runs I was able to get the fish close enough to see it. During all the commotion I had tried to get Don Heskett, our boat handler, to get over to me with my spare gun. But the fish would make its most violent run when the boat got close. I knew with the poor shot and those violent runs that the risk of losing the fish was high, so I opted to flag the boat away and finesse the fish in without shooting it again. After 20 minutes that plan worked, and I was able to land the fish. Fish weighed in as largest stripper of the tournament at 33.5 lbs. My estimate of 15 lbs. was slightly off. A HUGE thanks to Mike McGuire and all of his terrific crew. It was a Fabulous event with the spearfishing
coming in second to seeing all the great competitors and friends.
Story from: Calvin Lai
|Making the world team to spearfish against the worlds best. Also to do it with your son, who has been spearfishing since the age of 7 was amazing and I’m very proud of him. It was an exciting 8 months before leaving.We both made the team last year and planned for the event early. Booked tickets and boat and cabins, rental car and more. To make a long story short, my son just got a new job and in the last 5 days before I left the unthinkable or I guess u can say the bomb got dropped on me and he could not go. The panic of finding a dive partner last minute and just being able to drop everything and go was very slim. I called all my friends who dive with me in kona and no one could go, It was not gonna happen. Two days before I left I got a call from Mike M. And he said I got someone who could make it and he also was starting a new job as well. I gave Mike Livingston a call, I knew who he was and he was a good diver. He has done well in many of the past competitions. I called Mike and he said he can make it but might not be able to do any scouting. I said no problem I’ll do the scouting the best I can.|
I was ready to leave and my dad decided to come in on the 18th. I left on the 15th. I decided to rest the day I got in. Scouting started alone just me and my boat guy Ed and one day with Jeff. All scouting days were rough, not many fish on this upper side of the dam. Here and there game fish and so the rough fish, game plan was not made till the night before. I had a strategy but wasn’t sure yet.
7 am in the water game fish day, striper spot not holding, Mike saw and shot and lost one, anything left was gone. We moved to a drum spot picked up some big guys I got 3 fat boys and Mike got 1 drum and cat and a striper. I saw no stripers. We ended the first day of game fish and Mike was 6th individual and I was a far behind 14th place. Into the next day rough fish spot was not holding also I jumped in with a smaller gun cause the water was dirty, saw one rough fish in 45 min shot and lost the fish on the run, I couldn’t believe how I started the day, I knew every fish counted on the end of the day and could cost u a place or two. First 4 hrs 6 fish for me 4 for Mike, this wasn’t looking to good. Also going into my last 3 hrs I had gun trouble. Jumped on boat grabbed a new gun with better and new gun line on it. I shot 15 fish in the last 3 hrs and Mike took 11 pieces total and I ended up wit 21 total. I knew the 3 fish lost was 6 points and when the totals came out for both days together it cost me, but that’s how the ball rolls. Mike did great he ended up 7th individual and I climbed that ladder from 14th to 6th individual to take home a trophy, team standings we also came from behind to take the 4th place team trophy and sealed the deal. We both learned a lot from this and as a team we never gave up, I felt like…. at some point and I could hear my grandpa telling me to just have fun and get back in the water. Rule to remember hunt hard to the end, many divers won’t or cant and this is where you take their lead.
I had a great team my dad on the boat, Ed as a boat captain and Mike as a dive partner. Thanx to all the people who put this together it’s not easy. Thanx to all my sponsors, Hawaii fishing news, Yamaha motors USA, Meister diving, rob allen spearfishing, Sportube. Pops spearfishing, until next time dive safe. See you at Freshwater Nationals
Story from: Mike Livingston
My dream of making the world team and competing for Team USA was finalized just one week prior to the competition start. I had just missed making a spot on points but received word that the amazing Calvin Lai was in need of a dive partner for the event. I was excited but concerned because I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it work. I had just started a new job and had only been there a week. The stars all aligned and I was able to make it work. Calvin did all the heavy lifting as far as scouting. Along with his father “Pops” and our awesome boat captain Ed they spent a solid 5 days leading up the event scouting what seemed like every inch of the lake. They identified what they felt were the best spots for both game and rough fish and we developed our strategy. Day one was game fish day and we decided that we would only spend an hour trying for a striper and then move to the other game fish categories. We dropped on our spot and I immediately saw a beast of a striper but it was flying through and out of range for a shot. A few drops later I thought I had landed a small striper but it ripped off as I was trying to get it on the stringer. We left that spot with me thinking that I had missed my chance at one. We moved to our previously designated drum spots where we were looking for big slabs. I had shot two drum and a couple of catfish at this point when I was on a drop at 22 feet. I was at the end of my dive and was about to come up when a decent little striper approached on the left. He was going away and I felt like it was a bit of a long shot but decided to go for it anyway and to my surprise I connected! I wasn’t going to lose it this time and I made sure to secure him in a death grip before getting him on the boat. The day ended with me shooting 3 drum, 3 cats and 1 striper and Calvin shooting three really nice size drum. We ended day one in 7th place team and I was in 6th as an individual with Cal 14th. We knew that it would be super critical to get a lot of good drops in on day 2 if we were going to have any chance of making the podium. We were rather concerned because on game day I saw a total of 5 rough fish the entire day and Cal had seen about 10. We felt like if we could shout 30 fish between us that we would be in contention.
Rough day started out just that, rough. On my first two drops I shot two fish but they both tore off. I was so frustrated and knew that I had to let it go. In the first 4 hours I shot a total of 4 fish which was well off the pace of what I needed. Cal had 6 fish after 4 hours and we knew we had to pick up the pace if we were going to win. We found that the best areas seemed to be on the points near the coves. We would drop on a point and could shoot two fish and then we would jump to the next point. It was working well until my mono ripped out after shooting a carp. Calvin also had some gun issues and we were both pretty frustrated. I had to use my shorter gun the last hour and a half which resulted in less power and range. By this point I had shot 9 or 10 fish and Calvin was on a tear and had logged nearly 20 fish at this point. We buckled down and fought hard the last hour to finish the day with 11 fish for me and 21 for Calvin. On the day I lost 6 fish and Cal had 3 get away but we felt good about our efforts and awaited the results.
We must have done the math 10 times and couldn’t believe it when we found ourselves in 4th overall as a team. We had made the podium and it felt so good. Calvin was super stoked to have made the top 6 as an individual. I finished just one spot below him in 7th place as an individual. What an amazing experience this was for me personally. I wasnt even supposed to be here and I walked away with a trophy and a top 10 personal finish. I learned a ton and feel like I truly can hang with the big boys. Thank you for putting on such an amazing event. Thank you to all the amazing sponsors as well. I can’t wait for Worlds in 2023.
Story from: Mike Kennedy
What a fun sport Spearfishing is, combining two of the greatest sports of fishing and hunting into one. We get to go under water with a gun and hunt fish. I have been Spearfishing for over 7 years and learning so much more about the sport every tournament or competition I attend, asking questions to some of the great divers out there that have been doing it for 20 plus years. Last year Nationals was held at Lake McConaughy in Nebraska, I did well but was 1 fish or 3 points short of making it to Worlds, I thought over and over of the fish that I should of shot that would of got me in The Worlds Freshwater Spearfishing Championship but alas I would just have to do better next time. Then just a few weeks before the competition I got an email from Mike McGuire that there was a Ukranian team that needed a teammate and if I would like be his teammate. I said, “yes!” Mike got me in contact with my teammate and now friend Andrii Lagutin, his English was 50% but his knowledge of helping you understand what he was trying to say was 150%. Andrii named the team, Team Laken from his last name Lagutin and my last name Kennedy, with the Ukranian flag and the U.S. Flag, pretty dang thoughtful if you ask me. We had a gentleman by the name of Bill Shaw that volunteered his home and boat and to be our Captain. Bill is a good man and a Vietnam Vet that loves people and adventure. I flew out to Arkansas and met Captain Bill, his home was a Cabin full Taxidermized animals and Fish that he had collected over the years, that where pretty dang cool. He had Fox’s and Racoon’s to Pike and Striper on his walls almost everything native to Arkansas. In the morning was when I met Andrii for my 1st time, I had wondered if he was going to be the hard and serious type or and easygoing type. Andrii was more of the fun-loving give me a hug type of guy with a Mohawk. Both of us knowing nothing of Beaver Lake and what to expect. We all hopped in the truck and took off to the lake, Bill had a slip on the lake where he kept his boat, made it easier for him at his age to be able to go fishing whenever he wanted without having to put the boat on the trailer and drive it on the crazy roads. Speaking of the roads, I got car sick every single time we drove to or from the Lake. We were staying at Bill’s house which is in Holiday Island and from the to the Lake there is no such thing as a straight road and or a level road, it was like getting on a rollercoaster going up and down left and right, high and low. We took the boat out and started diving out by marker 5, the water was not clear, the visibility was 3 feet to 7 feet depending where and what depth you dove. We scouted each day for 3 days getting to know each other and I got to learn what a great man Andrii from Ukraine was. Andrii for the last 5 years has been at War with Russia fighting for freedom, to face such hardships and to stay kind and loving as he was sure was an example for me. We had lots of things in common that we learned of each other besides spearfishing we also loved hunting and adventure. Striper day came and we went to an area that I had seen striper, we dove there and I saw 2 small Striper so I chose not to take it, I chose not to take it for 2 reasons: 1. You only get 1 and I knew that it would be beat by any other striper shot. 2. I know I need 1 for gameday, lets save it incase I don’t find any on gameday, better to get one then none. We used Striper Day as a scout day also. While we where diving I was down at 21 feet looking for fish sitting on bottom when the boat started and I heard it driving off when I was Yanked from the bottom being pulled with the boat, I instantly knew Captain had driven over my float line and I was being dragged with my line stuck in the propeller. I was about to pull my eject button on my weight belt when the boat came to a stop, that was a close one! Poor Bill felt bad for that and my float line getting destroyed but life goes on and we all are ok. We had a few problems that day the boat went over a rock that tore small hole in the boat and mangled the prop. With a mangled prop we limped back to the boat slip and borrowed some tools. Andrii like a Blacksmith worker went to work with a hammer and a rock then a hammer and a metal pole he swung and bent the prop back where it belonged as people around the Marina wondered what this loud mohawk man was doing banging away. Later we took the truck to a trout river Bill wanted to show us and accidently locked the keys in the truck. We had our spearguns in the back of the truck and had a small crowbar we found back there also. Bill made a small gap in the door as stood on top of the truck and shoved a spear shaft inside the gap and when the flange opened up, I used the flang to grab the door lock and lift it up and unlock the doors, it was a sight to see and a crazy day. Game day was now upon us, we got up early in the morning drove out to the slip and got to our spot where we hoped to get a variety of fish including a striper. We started diving and I did not see all the fish we saw before. 30 mins in Andrii shoots a good Striper in 40 feet of water, so I went out and started diving for an hour or more trying to get my Striper. I was diving down 40 feet where the water was a cold 66 degrees and the visibility was about 3 feet and it was dark and cloudy. I got good breathes each time just knowing there had to be another Striper out there, I was doing long dives 2:25 and still nothing. I knew I had to move on and also my body was cold so I went back to the shallows and hunted for cats and Walleye, I shot a pretty good Walleye. We moved to our Catfish spot where we had seen about 20 Catfish 3 days prior, I dove down and saw a huge Catfish, twice as big as my State Record in Utah that was 8.5lbs. I shoot it and it starts rolling and tangling I dive down and grab it with both arms and hug it to my body in fear that it may tare off since it was a gut shot. I though this is so big I need to take it straight to the boat. As I was swimming to the boat the fish locked his fins, and if you know about Catfish, they have spikes on each fin that can lock into place and use as a weapon, I’ve had a few pop my pontoon boat as they thrashed around inside my boat. As I held him tight to me with my hands on his gills, he put up a big fight locking his fins and his spikes went through my wetsuit and through my skin. I tried to give him a little space and he took advantage and rolled out, I grabbed the line and he tore himself right off the line as I watched him swim down to the deep, I just lost a 15 lb./point fish. I couldn’t believe it, I had him in my arms and was swimming to the boat, I should have put him on my stringer 1st, I was mad and frustrated at myself, I should have endured the pain and held tight. I was at this point so disheartened and frustrated; I lost my big fish only 1 Walleye and no Striper. We moved spots again to a spot during scouting we had seen Catfish, we started diving when Andrii who already had his 2 Walleye saw a Walleye and told me, “Mike, come here 30 feet is Walleye”. I went down and waited for the Walleye to come in when I saw stripes, I raised my gun in excitement and nailed it perfectly. I came up and yelled to Andrii, “No Walleye, but I did get a striper!” as I showed it to him. We moved spots again to a Drum area, I started swimming and actually saw a drum from top and started a dead fall where I try not to move at all but I also had to twist my body and swing my gun as he was around left of me and take a 8 foot shot and I nailed it! I love when shots go good like that. Did a lot of dives when I saw a Catfish, I nailed it and secured it to my float to not make a mistake and lose another Cat. I did another dive when I saw another Catfish not too big but still a Catfish, I nailed it in the stomach not a good shot and it tore off. About 15 mins later saw another one that tore off as well how frustrating. I went down again and there was a fallen over log about 20 feet down, 20 feet seemed to have the most fish with the best visibility at 3 to 5 feet. While sitting by the log a good Walleye came in and I nailed it perfectly and brought it in. I know have my 1 Striper, 2 Walley, 1 Drum and 1 Catfish. I do a ton of dives and see a Drum and nail it in the tail but it tears off, half hour later I nail my 2nd Drum. I did 119 dives and shot 6 fish, I should have gotten 1 more Drum and a few more Catfish, I have a lot more work to do tomorrow on rough fish day to make up my loss. I ended up with 27 points and 11th place overall. Rough fish day came and we got up early again and headed to the boat slip like we do every morning. We take our guns and fins home and usually leave the rest. That morning we put in the gate code got to the boat and my Mako weight vest was missing, what are we going to do? I had a weight belt with 4 lbs. that I attach the float line to but that will not be enough, Andrii gave me 4lbs off of him and we had go with what we had. We got to our spot a little late in the commotion a few minutes after 7. I had to dive deeper to stay down, but on my 2nd dive I shot a monster drum, too bad I didn’t shoot him yesterday, he would have been 12 pts yesterday and 2 pts today. I was struggling to stay down, my 3 mil Mako wetsuit had a small Pocket that I stuffed with as much small rocks as I could to weight me down a little more. I then found a flat rock probably 12 inches by 9 inches that I stuffed into my wetsuit that worked. I was able to stay down at 20 feet, I was back in business. We moved to a new spot about 10 am. This was a spot I thought would be good for Carp and Drum. I start shooting and pull in 6 more Carp and Drum. I asked them to come get my fish and they yell back that the Boat isn’t starting, and the boat never worked again after that. We did the best we could with the situation, I tied my fish to an old unused boat dock. I then dove and dove and dove and dove shooting 1 fish every half hour. A family’s boat was stuck and I dove down and pulled their anchor out of a tree stump. Another couple told me how their son had lost his $1200 dollar cell phone. I dove down and instantly found their Iphone. I did 160 dives that day and hauled in 13 fish giving me 26 points. I really thought we did really bad but Andrii shot 26 fish that gave us a big boost. We still had to get the fish in before 4 and some people came with their boat and towed us back to our slip, we got our fish back 15 minutes before disqualification time. We ended up taking 3rd Place as a team, other teams had struggled to find Drum and Carp also, so never give up you never know how others will do. Andrii took 3rd place overall and 2nd in Masters, I took 8th place overall moving up 3 spots. It was exhausting and so much fun at the same time and I had a great time meeting a new teammate and friend Andrii.
Story from: Andrii Lagutin
Travelling for years I have already visited many countries and almost all continents but the United States happened to have still remained an absolutely mysterious place for me. Surely, there were films, newspapers and television, which created a certain general idea. So, I had a definite pattern and quite understandable illustration of this country , therefore, I was expecting quite understandable impressions. And then, suddenly, a completely expected, but at the same time, completely unexpected adventure happened. For a long time I had been trying to get to the USA and dive in so desirable places for me. But I turned out to have been rejected an American visa several times for reasons I cannot explain. And suddenly, “the stars aligned ” after 7 difficult years of war and service in the Ukrainian Army, I received an invitation to take part in the Freshwater Spearfishing Tournament.
There wasn’t really much hope, especially in terms of the COVID epidemic, that is why, getting ready for such a trip looked like a gamble, but my whole life is a continuous adventure, so I started preparing … I can say that my adventure happened thanks to the friendly assistance and enthusiasm of Mike McGuire, the organizer of this tournament, who also helped a lot with visa support. And in fact, he helped to prepare the whole trip (having found for me both a partner and accommodation and a Captain with a boat) and as a result, he organized the Tournament perfectly.
To begin with, the rules are totally different from the traditional CMAS competitions and our national ones. The first difference is that the competition is held in three days, seven hours per day. I came alone, I performed in the master division. My American partner, Mike Kennedy, is a wonderful guy from Utah, that’s why we named the team “LaKen” after the first syllables of our names, we performed in the mixed team “mix” – He was in the “Mans” division, I was in Masters” and we had common team result.
Жили в доме у Билла Шоу, он же пилот и хозяин лодки. К плюсам нашей команды у нас пилот самый
We lived at Bill Shaw’s house, who was also the pilot and owner of the boat. And spearfishing was something new for him …
But still, we had five days to prepare. The water in the lake is warm and clear, this is not Ukraine. In my country if it is warm then it is muddy , but if it is clear, then it is cold. Very cold! The first three days made it clear that there are a lot of carps, drums and perches, but I began to see veils and catfish only by the end of the fourth day, while I met only one striper, and even then only briefly. Mike says that strippers are always on the border of cold and warm water, you need to lie in stakeout and wait!
In general, before the start of the competition we had only one place where Mike had seen large strippers several times and we decided to start there. On the first day, on the very first dive, Mike meets a large stripper but does not have time to shoot, and then, 7 hours of fruitless diving.
I went into a normal competition mode: a minute and a half rest on the surface, and 2.15 – 2.45 under water. But there’s zero result, there’s no fish to be seen. Moreover, Bill, getting to Mike, unsuccessfully approached the shore and bent the propeller strongly. Later, in the marina, we change the damaged propeller for a spare one. Until then, endless diving was going on. There were Carps, Cupids, Veils, Dramas, rare catfish, and no strippers … Plus, by the end of the day, Bill again jumps out on the rocky ridge with a boat and bends the spare propeller and breaks off the fin on the engine leg, the engine is junk, the boat hardly works. And we return to the marina with troubles….
Driving to the gathering place, we discover that only 15 people came out with strippers and the first sensation – the Pelengas team has got 4 large test perches! The fish are large, all of them are 6-10 kg.
Here is a triumph, Chunyukin is the first, Mayorova is the first among women, Galaktionov and Golovyanko are also with large fish, all are in the top six.
The whole day of rest is spent on straightening and tidying up the screws, my leg cannot be fixed, the motor runs badly, but at least it does. Tomorrow Game Fish will take place. After much thought, I come to the conclusion that, nevertheless, I will try to hunt in the “refrigerator” below the thermocline. My suit is thin, well, I’ll freeze, but I hope I can stand it for an hour, it’s worth trying…
We decide to start again in the same place as on the first day. We arrive at the place clearly to the start, one boat is already there, we maintain a distance (at least 100 yards) and get into the water. The first dive – a depth of 11 meters, I see flooded trees, it is cold, muddy, I understand that I need a shorter gun and at that moment, over my gun, right next to me, a large striper passes! The adrenaline rushes, I come up, run to the boat, change the gun for a shorter one, and dive again. In the muddy place, in the light, I see the shadow of a very large fish passing by, I shoot. The fish makes several powerful jerks and, having winded 15 meters of the line from the reel, pulls out the harpoon from itself and leaves… I recharge, calm my nerves and dive again, now a little deeper, 12.5 meters, freeze at the bottom and after 50seconds, more intuitively than realistically, I still see a shadow. Shot, the fish winds the line and gets entangled at depth. After unwinding the reel, I float and dive again, lifting the desperately resisting striper from the rubble. It’s the fish, not large, approximately five kilograms, but still a stripper! This is the first test, now I can give all my attention to the veils.
Quite quickly I take two credits “grey” (we call same fishes in Ukraine), then a catfish, and Mike is still looking for a striper. By the end of the second hour, we change the point and look for “kittens”, but no luck. The transition again, at the new point there should also be Catfish, but so far only Vualai are found. I have a complete set, and I call Mike, and he emerges in delight – he took a stripper! And after a couple of dives, he gets a veil, now we need dramas and catfish. We change the place, the boat is moving slowly, at the new place I quickly take three credit drams, Mike is still fiddling around. The place for “catfishes” is hopeless, I can hardly persuade him to change his place again, there is only an hour left. At the new place I manage to take only one catfish and that’s it, time is up.
At the weigh-in my Ukrainian colleagues turned out to have showed a brilliant result again- each of them got a large stripper. Galaktionov is undoubtedly the first, he has a complete set. Golovyanko is the second, but also good result. Sveta Mayorova is definitely the first among ladies. So far I have the third result in veterans and seventh in the general list, it’s a pity we lost time on transitions and in Mike’s attempts to take the third drama. At least a couple of hours weren’t wasted. In the teams: Galaktionov and Golovyanko are the first, the Veteran team from Hawaii is the second (they performed on the good level and were the only ones to shoot Crappie). Mike and I are the fourth, Mayorova and Angela Golovyanko are the first among women.
But there is still a day ahead, again you need to think a lot about what to change in tactics, let’s try to get out on the carp …
The last, decisive day. Local carps are really far from being as cautious as ours, drum also seems to be fine. You need to move a lot, constantly and often change places. Before starting, I change the harpoon to a thicker and more powerful one, lengthen the working line and increase the pressure in the gun. There shouldn’t be any doubt about the power of the shot. Since the start, we have changed our location 5 times. For the first hour, I manage to take 6 fish, for the second 7 more, the dynamics almost suits me, I planned 6-7 fish per hour. And then, the engine of our boat finally says “NO!”. The boat immovable and now we need to change tactics again, we will not get to the most interesting places (((Chances are falling rapidly! The boat is at anchor, we will have to hunt only around it. Change the tactics of active hunting, to long-term haul-outs, in one of the dives I raise my head and see two silhouettes of large fish passing over me. I shoot the biggest one. Fish, winding the coil makes powerful pushes, over and over again breaks the wound and the harpoon gradually comes out of the fish. Despite the powerful injection, it was not possible to pierce the fish completely. Realizing that I could lose the trophy, I risked – having dived to the desperately resisting white cupid (here it is called Grass Carp), I pierce the harpoon further with my hand and continue the struggle again. As a result, a fish on a fish stringer, I hand it over to the boat, take pictures and dive again. An hour before the finish line, the ear stops blowing, that’s what it means for the last 6 years I have hardly dived. But, even with ear troubles I manage to take a few more fish
While Mike and I were diving, a boat from local fishing guides came up to our boat. Paul and Claire, learning about our problem, promised to return to the finish line and tow us to the marina. They are really friendly guys, whose boat is equipped with the latest fishing electronics, I especially liked the taxiing in the marina, the bow electric motor. Two large boats, moored by the sides, gently and accurately came out to a given parking point. Do I need to talk about the emotions of communicating with wonderful people, fun, kindly, they also got me a beer. Now it is important to have time to transfer the fish from the boat to the car and be at the collection point no later than the control time. We are in time end-to-end, five minutes before the control time, but we are in time!
The judges count the tails, I have 24 fish, they weigh my cupid, 33.65 pounds! This is certainly not a stripper, but still, the largest fish!
in the evening, we all gather at a Mexican restaurant 50 miles from the lake. Everything is very emotional, cool and fun. Delicious food is provided by the organizers, but everyone chooses and buys the drink himself. After a delicious dinner, rewarding takes place and what is unusual for us – a lottery. Everyone brought some prizes with them, they are equated to a certain number of tickets, if desired, tickets can be purchased well, and then the usual lottery draw -each winner selects the thing he likes on the table with prizes. The awarding ceremony is also organized in an unusual way – there are no medals, but instead of them, there are beautiful commemorative plaques that can be placed on the table, fireplace or mounted on the wall. There are no traditional first three places, but the first six winners in the individual and five in the team. Everything is very funny, with jokes and sincere congratulations, speeches and stories. My friends, Mike McGuire and Darren Shields from New Zealand have been thinking over the idea of holding a big world championship in freshwater spearfishing in Ukraine for quite a long time. Moreover, there are also Finns, Danes, Italians, all the Baltic countries and Poland, Croatia, Greeks, a good quorum may be gathering. Literally, every second, came up and asked if the next (in two years, international) world championship was really planned to be taken place in Ukraine. All the time I had to answer about the difficulties of the organization, political situation , war and so on.
But everything is real. Let’s see what we can do…. And the choice of a reservoir (there are two options) – summer and a large reservoir, on the Dniester River 500 km from Kiev, or fall-cold water and the Dnieper River 150 km from Kiev. The second option seems to be more interesting to me. This is the historical center of Ukraine. And I want to turn this tournament into a holiday and a real adventure, for everyone who has not been to our country yet. There are so many details to think over-boat rentals, accommodation and a lot of little things require serious organization. And surely, we need to start preparing now. This is a good way to declare Our Country not only as a leader in sports, but also as a good organizer of sport events.
But actually, why not…?
Story from: Bruce Ayau
Aloha, Beaver Lake was quite the experience. After the last couple of freshwater dive tournaments I realized I would have to change my game plan. The first thing we changed was the amount of days to scout. Assuming that most of the teams know your locations You better have a couple of others just in case. So we used all seven days up to the tournament to scout the entire boundaries of the lake. Or at least 85% of it. The other thing we needed was a competent boat captain and a fast boat. Beaver Lake has great game fish but not an abundance of carp like some of the other lakes. So we did commit some time to finding carp. Not only finding them but understanding what time a day they are most prevalent. And for sure the thermocline. So on our first day of the tournament, game fish, we pick the striper grounds first and got some small ones. Then we went into the walleye area that also happened to have Crappie close by and landed a few of them. And the last was drum and catfish. I think the tiebreaker is catfish if you could get a few big ones you’d be looking really good. Which is what the Ukrainian team did. However, I am very happy with how me and my partner did. Hanalei Adric is not only a excellent Diver but he has aloha spirit which means he’s cool under fire. The ability to constantly change your game plan with somebody who is cool headed really helps. I did enjoy lying on the thermocline or just on the deeper side and firing at a shadow in the very murky water. On three different occasions I basically landed on fish. So we had a good game plan and finished very high. First and third masters individual and second team open. A very special thanks to all the organizers. People don’t understand the amount of time and organization it takes to put on a world-class event. So for my partner Hanalei Adric and myself I am very grateful to RMSA Ohana. I look forward to the next freshwater dive tournament and apply all the knowledge from the last couple. Congratulations to all competitors.