Ooh-Rah! The name is Danyar. You may have seen me aboard F/V Suzy B, a boat which I work on, rather under, as a commercial spearfisherman. I was given the opportunity to be a part of a new upcoming docudrama on the Weather Channel titled "Catching Hell", indeed an offer hard to reject. I assume you are here to learn more about who I am, what I do, and why I do it. I am still in awe of the fact that there are people like yourself who care enough about my voyage, and surely I do appreciate all the love comrades. These weekly posts are not to be testosterone-filled, pompous chest-thumping rants, but rather just me conveying my passion without cameras, lights, or producers in the way. I will strive to keep it real and genuine for you all. So let's do just that, and find out why I enjoy spearfishing and what kind of breakfast it takes to be able to horseback ride them sharks all the way home to the fish house.
Diving takes up some of my earliest memories. Whether it was retrieving toys from the bottom of a pool or challenging my peers to breath-holding contests, I often found myself in the water. Being in the water always felt natural to me. The beautiful purplish-blue depths of the ocean is where I feel at peace the most, relaxed yet aware, and one with the element. Nonetheless my journey did not start here. Traveling, diving remote places off top-notch boats, meeting new divers, friends and plain ole' salty dogs, or being selected to be on this particular TV show started somewhere else with a single decision and a plethora of passion. I clearly remember the day I was first introduced to spearfishing. Some of my buddies invited me to come fishing with them, to which I immediately agreed and asked which rod I should bring, and whether I should scoop up some live shrimp for bait. I was perplexed when one of the guys told me to leave all of that at home and just bring a mask and a pair of fins for this trip. To me this was completely novel but I knew I could not wussy out now. That weekend I found all about how to use a borrowed polespear and how to protect myself from bullsharks. Disregarding the fact that we used a busted kayak to get to the spot, the day went great and I saw fish after fish being thrown into the bucket by my dive buddies. We all were freediving without any other methods of subsurface respiration besides our lungs and a snorkel. This method is called freediving. Shortly it was my turn to jump in and hunt. The water was cold and murky. As I graciously veered between pilings in search of potential dinner, a large sheepshead came in my peripheral sight. I was short on breath, yet determined to harvest this fish. I aimed the polespear, locked eyes with the fish, and let the spear rip through the water. I could almost feel my instincts peaking. As the sand settled a feeling of euphoria took over. I felt as though I was an apex predator, victorious and knowing I was not coming home empty handed. That day I experienced something I haven't felt before, it was remarkable and I felt overwhelmingly joyous. That day something clicked for me.
“That day I experienced something I haven't felt before, it was remarkable and I felt overwhelmingly joyous. That day something clicked for me.”
As the years rolled by I grew with the hunt, amazed by the circumstances, resources, and people that spearfishing brought into my life. My love for the thrill grew and I found myself spending majority of my paychecks on spearfishing gear and offshore gas bills. There were times where I was diving three to four times per week. I was freediving way before I even considered getting certified scuba and still prefer to freedive in my time away from work. I feel that freediving is more primitive, challenging, and fulfilling.
However I wanted to go deeper, shoot more fish, and loved the idea of potentially getting paid for it. The next step was commercial spearfishing, a famously rough and tough industry to break into. It was a known fact that most commercial vessels practice scuba harvesting for increased efficiency. In most commercial diving scenarios it is impossible to shoot enough fish freediving to make the trip profitable. I needed to get my scuba spearfishing up to par. In preparation for the offshore work I passed all of the necessary scuba certifications and invested in dive insurance. I wanted to take my recreational spearfishing experience to the next level. The only way up was to dive commercially where the best underwater shooters in the world selectively harvest the finest fish for top restaurants in the country. You know what they say, "If you are the best spearfisherman on the boat, you are on the wrong boat." I strived to live by that motto, knowing that the fastest route to success and mastery is to learn and dive under the wings of the best. The only piece left was a captain that would see potential and hire me.
Over the next few months I got denied more times than I can recall. Rejections came flooding in ranging from, you are too young, to you need more experience, to we don't need your services, or simply no response. With every additional rejection my morale sank lower and lower. I was crushed. Nevertheless, two months later I found myself scrambling for gear after getting an unexpected yet promising phone call. With enough dedication, persistence, networking, and some luck I was able to hone my skill and eventually break into the predatory world of commercial spearfishing. I found out that I was granted access to work on a commercial vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. I am in, I thought to myself. This was my chance to make it count. There was no room for error. The rest is history my friends. Few more years fly by and I get a call about a potential part on "Catching Hell" all because of the relationships I nurtured and the skills that I acquired over the years. It is as humbling as it is gratifying to look back today and see how all of the dots connected due to my love for the hunt, a bucket of luck, and passion for the blue abyss.
Until next time, keep them gills soaked,
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.