Hometown. Where from.
I grew up near Cocoa Beach, FL. Currently I live in Wilmington, NC.
When did you start and what moved you to spearfish.
My original introduction to spearfishing was at a very young age when my family visited some friends in the Bahamas. My grandfather raised my dad in Angola, Africa where they both spearfished. I remember seeing my grandfather’s speargun and hearing his stories, but getting to spear for the first time hooked me forever. Feeling my hunting instincts kick in was so surreal at such a young age.
Favorite fish/location to hunt and why?
It used to be Dogtooth tuna, but since visiting Homer, Alaska and searching out Halibut, I would definitely say that’s my favorite. I shot a big one and it absolutely kicked my teeth in.
Most memorable fish/diving experience?
I was visiting Fiji with my wife. She was pregnant and we were nearly thirty miles out hunting a pinnacle. Up to this point I’d had awful luck landing dogtooth tunas, but everything worked perfect that day. The storm we’d navigated on the way out subsided, the sun came out and the ocean glassed off. I made a dive and put a disabling shot on a big fish, fighting it to the surface. I let out a huge victory yell with my wife right there and it was awesome.
Another one would by my biggest halibut to date. I’d worked so hard for a week trying to find the fish with no luck. A super nice guy who I barely knew invited me out on his boat and after rod and reeling a few decent fish, I jumped in the water. My first dive I crept slowly along the bottom, and there it was. I thought the halibut was maybe sixty pounds, but all I could see was his frog eyes and mouth gaping open. I took a clean unicorn shot diagonally downwards with my Marauder 47 to make sure my double flopper deployed correctly. When the fish came up in a contrail of silt I knew it was WAY bigger than I’d previously thought. After a long, exhausting fight in current, I finally got it to the boat, back to shore and to the scale. It weighed in at 148.9 pounds and became the current world record at 134.7 pounds after I was docked 10% weight for messing up photo documentation haha. (live and learn). We processed the meat and it fed us for eight months.
My most memorable dive experience to date was August 6th 2021. We went out shark diving to celebrate the life of my brother Michael, an incredible underwater videographer who passed away in the spring of 2021. My five year old son came out with me, hanging on to my back while we spread flowers and my brothers ashes. My son would breathe slowly, equalize and hang on while we dove together, surrounded by bull sharks. Seeing my sons childlike wonder at the formidable animals was remarkable and reminded me so much of my brothers fascination with the same creatures. Bull sharks were always our favorite sharks to dive with, so it was an amazing sendoff for an incredible person. Having my son in the water with me was such a proud moment. Speaking to my son later, he told me how it felt to be in the water with the bulls. He said “I felt uncle Michael with me. I felt it in my Spirit”.
Favorite fish recipe/way to prepare your catch/cleaning tips?
The most delicious fish I’ve had would be a tie between Alaskan King Salmon, Silver Salmon and Halibut.
The skin on the King Salmon, when it’s fresh and grilled with high heat gets crispy, but fatty and delicious. It’s like buttery, crispy, perfect goodness.
Silver salmon speared, bled, carefully prepared, cut into pieces with skin on, marinated in an old recipe I was given by a crazy Alaskan bush pilot named Johnny Ski and smoked on the Treager is about the most delicious thing you’ll ever eat. Salmon candy forever.
Halibut cut into small servings, dusted with Traeger Blackened Saskatchewan rub and fried in rendered duck fat over the fire in a cast iron skillet. UN-FREAKING-REAL. Eaten with camp potatoes and eggs. Best fish I’ve ever had.
Favorite go-to RIFFE speargun and setup? Why?
What safety tips would you like to share regarding gear or freediving/spearfishing in general?
Take a freediving class. Know how to rescue someone and dive with buddies who know how to do the same.
Always know where your gun is aimed and never shoot at anything unless you know there’s nothing or anyone behind your target.
Four rules to keep you alive: One diver up, one diver down. Be at arms reach distance from your surfacing buddy. Check to make sure they’re ok visually and have them confirm vocally. Wait for 30 seconds before the next diver goes down in case the down diver experiences a late-onset blackout or loss of motor control.
If your buddy has a loss of motor control or blackout, keep their nose and mouth in the air and they’ll live. Simple.
Your dive knife is for safety first, not just for killing fish. Keep it mounted in a place where both hands can reach it. The Wrangler double serrated Riffe knife is the best out there at the moment. High carbon steel and serrations allow the blade to cut through rope and line with one swipe. I’ve even been able to cut 750# stainless cable with it. If you get tangled in something on the bottom or your own line, your knife is your way out.
What’s the most rewarding part of spearfishing for you.
For me, seeing my wife and kids eat fish a couple times a week is very rewarding. Knowing that I went to sea, hunted, landed, cared for, cleaned, cooked and fed fish to my whole family is awesome.
Freediving itself, whether I’m hunting or taking photos/video or just enjoying the water is my happy place. It’s soothing and is an amazing salve for keeping a positive mental state.
Why choose RIFFE?
The ingenuity but adherence to proven methodology had kept RIFFE at the top for a reason. The guns work. They’re accurate, reliable, last a lifetime if maintained and are beautiful. All gear created by RIFFE goes through years of research and development before being released.
When a certain product needs improvement, the suggestions for improvement come directly from the incredibly talented divers on the RIFFE team and are implemented by designers and engineers at the factory. Often team members are present at the factory so the creative process is uninhibited. I find this process so empowering. I love being part of it.
RIFFE doesn’t follow trends because they’re trendy. RIFFE keeps what works, discards what doesn’t and creates more efficient ways of pursuing the craft of spearfishing with the best materials available.
Anything else you would like to let the world know?
Love you Jay. I’m thankful for the tremendous impact you’ve made on the spearfishing world and on the divers in it. Thank you. We miss you.