1980 – Don Barthman (California)

I was born in Whitefish,( born to be a fisherman) Montana on October 26 ,1936. We lived in Whitefish Montana until 1940, when we moved to Vallejo, California so that my Dad could work for Mare Island ship yard as a welder. We then moved to Albany in 1951. I graduated from Vallejo High School in 1954,went to work for forestry service fighting fires for two years. In 1955 I went to work for A.T.T and retired in 1985. In 1986 I bought a boat with Ralph Tieman .We fished commercially for sea urchins, salmon, Dungeness crab, rock crab and sea cucumber in Washington and California .We kept the boat in Bodega Bay and would go to Santa Barbara to fish for urchins every winter. The price was always better and the ocean was a lot calmer. I bought the boat from Ralph and fished it myself for several years. In 1988 I started a fish business in Bodega Bay buying and selling rock fish, salmon, tuna and Dungeness crab. I sold the boat and fish company in 2006 and moved to Arkansas.

I started diving in about 1953.I went with a friend to see the movie Frogman ,staring Lloyd Bridges and I was hooked. We both bought aqua lungs and dove every week. My first dive in the ocean was Lovers Point in Monterey Bay. We started free diving in 1956 and I dove my first meet in 1959. In 1961 I hooked up with Roger Chung & Dale Saunders. It took me until 1962 to get my first trophy. Then we started to win Cen Cal meets both team and individual. In 1960 we started our club called the Moby Dicks. It was in 1965 that we won the Nationals for the first time. I was also able to take home the individual trophy. In 1966 I was attacked by a great white shark near Cypress Point in Carmel Bay in California. But 3 months later I was in a tournament again and was able to take second place. The meet was in the same place the shark attack was, and I dove the same pinnacle. (but I was really scared).

My main club was the Richmond Pelicans ,but I belonged to and helped start some other clubs. Some of them were Deep Angles, Purple Urchins, Moby Dicks, San Jose Flipper Dippers. I also was one of the first members in Cen /Cal.

In 1969 Terry Maas, Carl Krupansky and myself qualified to dive in the World meet in the Aeolian Islands in Italy The team was able to come in fourth and I was able to get ninth place individual. Also as team captain I was invited to dive in the 9th Blue Water Olympics in Japan. What a meet. It started out with 2000 divers and eliminated down to 200 from Japan & 19 foreign nations.. I was able to finish first in the foreign nations and second overall It was by far the best dive tournament I was ever in. (and all my costs were free).

In 1979 I was the IUSA Athlete Of The Year. This to me was one of my most prestige awards of my life.

I was able to dive for several more years diving every meet I could. I was also very lucky to have dove for a lot of other clubs and a lot of great friends .We were able to win another Nationals in1968.we also dove/and won a lot of Pacific coast meets. In 1989 I decided to retire from diving. The last meet I dove in was the 1989 Pacific Coast Championships in San Simeon, my team was lucky to win, and I came out in first place

The biggest fish I ever shot free diving was a 550 lb Malabar Grouper ( southern Jew fish ).The fish was shot in Keno Bay in ,1969. (55 feet).What a fish. I had to use 6 shafts before I could kill it. When we got back to shore, I wasn‘t sure what I was going to do with the fish. The local bar was able to use it. For the fish they proceed to get all 25 of us drunk. I only lost two days diving from it.
The next best fish I ever shot were a 45 lb &42 lb halibut on the same day.
The best lobster day was two 14 lb bugs on the same tank. I don’t even want to say my best day of lobster diving in Mexico. I know we fed a lot of people that day. I lost a couple of diving days then too.
I never got into shooting game fish. I got a kick out of ling cod & Cabazon fishing & lobster diving. I loved to swim down deep in cracks & crevices. It was quite the challenge to find a flash light that didn’t leak, and a lot of my dive time was spent trying to fix it. In the early 60s we spent a lot of time making wet suits ,belts ,guns because there were very few dive shops. A lot of the dive techniques from the 60s are still being used today. Even though I am too old to Dive today, I do enjoy watching the divers of today and saying, boy I wish I could show you how it’s done. Hope to see you on the beach someday. Don B.

Representing the spearfishing community in the Rocky Mountain Region since 2008