Certain fish demand immortalization.
Memories are nice, but memories fade. With the uncertainties of life, you never know when you’ll need to hang up your fins. Not to get sentimental, but when you’re older you’ll want to relive parts of your youth.
I want to share a few time capsules you can use to document meaningful moments in your spearfishing journey.
1. Gyotaku Fish Printing
I’m a sucker for anything fish related to traditional Japanese culture.
When I found Gyotaku fish printing, I was spellbound by its simple yet intricate details. The process begins with cleaning and drying the outside of one side of your fish. A special ink from charcoal soot and water is placed over the whole fish.
Don’t worry. It won’t affect the meat and washes off quickly after the print is made.
Next, using a careful hand, a particular paper or cloth is placed over the fish. Applying pressure, the ink transfers from the fish to the canvas. Lifting carefully, you now have a print of your fish.
I highly recommend learning to do this yourself. It’s a beautiful art form that should be done more here in the States. However, if you catch a fish that’s especially meaningful, look into hiring an artist like @fishingforgyotaku. I had him do a large white sea bass I was stoked about, and it came out amazing. It was too much fish for me to try to do it as my first gyotaku.
Now I get to enjoy the fish each time I pass down my hall.
2. Fish Tail Mounts
One of the most incredible gifts I was given was a tail mount of my first big yellowtail.
A few years ago, I took a 15-hour drive down the Pacific side of Baja to hunt yellowtail. Halfway through the trip, my buddies each shot one over 30 pounds. My competitive side started getting the best of me. I was frustrated and beat myself up for not doing the same.
On the last day of the trip, at the final spot, I broke away from the group and headed to a rock that poked out of the ocean. This was early in my diving journey, so I didn’t know any better not to dive solo. Thinking I was going to go home empty-handed, I started to slow down my kicking and let all my thoughts go blank. Out of the abyss appeared large yellowtail right up against the rock. Knowing it was my last chance on the trip, I pulled myself together and took a shot for his gill plate.
I only had a 100cm gun with a janky reel. It took about seven minutes of pulling it in, managing the line, and dealing with its sudden bursts as it sprinted away. After the song and dance were over, I was able to kill it and call the captain over. This fish marked a graduation point in my mind of picking up a hobby, making friends, going on adventures, and bringing home a respectable fish for my family.
So when my buddy asked for the tail to make a mount, I graciously said yes. He dried it out using salt for a few days. Then he made a wooden base and installed a bottle cap in the center to make it functional. When the tail was ready, he attached it to the base and added some paint to bring out the faded yellow coloring.
Now that fishtail sits on my desk as my reminder that adventure awaits those who get after it.
3. Full Fish Mounts
When I was a kid, I always loved looking at the different fish mounts in tackle shops.
Although I have never done one with the fish I’ve caught, it’s an option for those who want a statement piece to show off. It’s funny. I always thought they took the fish skin and packed it full of foam for the mount. It turns out they don’t use the fish at all. YouTuber, Deermeatfordinner documented the process of making a mount with a marlin he speared. They used foam to sculpt the fish to size based on the measurement and used images of the catch to add the details. They hired a painter to ensure the color matched the fish and when it was done had it shipped to his house.
If you have the space and like that art style, then definitely check it out.
4. Digital Video and Photos
GoPros make it easy to capture high-quality videos and images underwater.
Before starting my YouTube channel, I steeped myself in other people’s dive footage secretly hoping their skills would rub off on me. It’s one thing to get footage. It’s another thing to turn it into something others want to watch.
If you’re just looking to get footage, here are the settings I use:
- GoPro Hero 7 (or higher)
- 64 or 128 GB card
- 2.7K or 4K resolution depending on your computer and storage specs
- Super wide camera angler to get the shot
- 60 frames per second
- External waterproof housing with a head strap
I tend to bring multiple cameras on a dive trip, so I don’t have to deal with changing batteries with wet hands. Any time you introduce moisture, it could lead to fogging or damage to the camera internals.
There’s only so much you can do from a storytelling perspective with a single camera angle. That’s why you see guys bring out drones to get set-up shots to add a bit of context to the journey. I also use my iPhone for any shot out of the water.
Audio is more important than video, so invest in a wireless lapel setup if you talk to the audience.
We can talk for hours about storytelling and editing, but the two pieces of advice for sharing with other is:
Answer these questions:
- Why should they care?
- Are you entertaining, educating, or both?
If you make a video for yourself, don’t be mad when you get one view – You.
Regarding pictures of your dives:
- As long as you use 60 fps and 2.7K+, you’ll be able to take screenshots of key moments that can then be turned into photos.
- Use apps like Lightroom or Snapseed to clean up the coloring.
I’m not a sentimental guy and believe that less is more. However, when it comes to spearfishing, I’m not opposed to having a few keepsakes to jog my memory of simpler times.
I hope this helps you do the same.