Guadalupe Island Spearfishing World Record

The fellows who freedive at Isla Guadalupe (Mexico) in search of giant fish are some of the most skilled and intrepid hunters in the world. They literally enter the food chain in a way that terrestrial hunters do not. This notion is especially true at Guadalupe Island, a haven to great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) at which several divers have been attacked, some fatally, in the past. Furthermore, freediving spearfishermen have the opportunity to fire only a single shot at a passing fish, using a band-powered speargun that they must reload with their own strength if they miss. They have only as much time to stalk a school of fish as they can sustain on a single breath of air, for this is breathhold diving and not supported by SCUBA, which is too cumbersome, noisy and is illegal for spearfishing in Mexican waters, not to mention unsporting. Once they strike their prey, they must haul the huge thrashing fish in on a thick cord and somehow dispatch the fish by hand before sharks sense the struggle and investigate. These guys are real watermen, very fit and tuned in to the waters that surround them. Since 1992 we have dived Guadalupe Island each summer with a group of spearfishering and diving friends, touring the island on the liveaboard dive vessel Horizon. It is a real pleasure to watch the freedivers at work in the water and hear their stories when they return to the boat. An added plus is the fresh fish we eat each night, barbequed perfectly and served with Jerry’s famous brew.

Craig OConnor and his pending spearfishing world record North Pacific yellowtail (77.4 pounds), taken on a breathold dive with a band-power speargun near Abalone Point.  Guadalupe Island is home to enormous yellowtail.  The three most recent spearfishing world records for Northern yellowtail have been taken at Guadalupe. July 2004, Seriola lalandi, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Craig OConnor and his pending spearfishing world record North Pacific yellowtail (77.4 pounds), taken on a breathold dive with a band-power speargun near Abalone Point. Guadalupe Island is home to enormous yellowtail. The three most recent spearfishing world records for Northern yellowtail have been taken at Guadalupe. July 2004.
Image ID: 09590
Species: North Pacific Yellowtail, Seriola lalandi
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

The 2004 trip was marked by Craig O’Connor’s good fortune at spearing a new world record for North Pacific Yellowtail (Seriola lalandi). Nowhere in the North Pacific do these fish get as large as they do at Guadalupe Island. They are brutes. The 1999 trip yielded two back-to-back world records for this species, first to Joe Tobin and then three days later to Doug Kuczkowski. But Craig’s fish topped them both, barely. In addition, a lot of sizable yellowfin tuna were also shot on the trip (as they have in the past), including these two by Joe Tobin and James Tate of Australia.

Joe Tobin (left) and James Tate (right) with yellowfin tuna (approx 60 pounds each), taken by breathold diving with band-power spearguns near Abalone Point.  Guadalupe Island, like other Eastern Pacific islands, is a fine place in the world to spear large yellowfin tuna.  July 2004, Thunnus albacares, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

Joe Tobin (left) and James Tate (right) with yellowfin tuna (approx 60 pounds each), taken by breathold diving with band-power spearguns near Abalone Point. Guadalupe Island, like other Eastern Pacific islands, is a fine place in the world to spear large yellowfin tuna. July 2004.
Image ID: 09593
Species: Yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

James Tate with yellowfin tuna (approx 60 pounds) taken by breathold diving with a band-power speargun near Abalone Point.  July 2004, Thunnus albacares, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe)

James Tate with yellowfin tuna (approx 60 pounds) taken by breathold diving with a band-power speargun near Abalone Point. July 2004.
Image ID: 09600
Species: Yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares
Location: Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Baja California, Mexico

Craig’s fish was written up in the San Diego Union Tribune and the IBSRC’s website of spearfishing world records.

Joe Tobin (left), Doug Kuczkowski (center) and Craig OConnor (right).  In July 2004 OConnor shot a pending spearfishing world record North Pacific yellowtail (77.4 pounds), taken on a breathold dive with a band-power speargun near Battleship Point, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Mexico, July 2004.  Kuczkowski is the current record holder (77.0 pounds, July 1999) and Tobin is former record holder (74 pounds, July 1999), H&M Landing, San Diego, California

Joe Tobin (left), Doug Kuczkowski (center) and Craig OConnor (right). In July 2004 OConnor shot a pending spearfishing world record North Pacific yellowtail (77.4 pounds), taken on a breathold dive with a band-power speargun near Battleship Point, Guadalupe Island (Isla Guadalupe), Mexico, July 2004. Kuczkowski is the current record holder (77.0 pounds, July 1999) and Tobin is former record holder (74 pounds, July 1999).
Image ID: 09747
Location: H&M Landing, San Diego, California, USA

Keywords: Guadalupe Island, freediving, spearfishing, yellowtail, world record, underwater photo, Seriola lalandi, Isla Guadalupe