2016 – Paul Young (California)

All of my life, I have been drawn to the water. It’s like it is something in my genetic code. In fact, I was born in Alaska because my father joined the Army so he could get shipped up there to fish! After I was born, we moved back to San Francisco Bay Area- where my parents grew up. My earliest memories are going fishing with my Dad. Actually, most of my memories and all of my childhood were spent fishing with my Dad. Every weekend and weekday evenings were spent fishing– all over Marin, the coast, the Bay, the Sacramento & Feather Rivers… I even worked two seasons as a commercial fisherman up in Alaska after highschool.
It was when I returned to Bay Area and began working for a building contractor, Nick Harkin, that I was introduced freediving and spearfishing. Nick took me out abalone diving one day after work— and that was it for me! This was like fishing on a whole other level. I was hooked! I tried to go diving as much I could after that.
One day, Nick’s brother lent me his speargun (a Scuba Pro, rigged with masonry line)—I didn’t shoot anything that day—on my first shot, the line broke and the shaft was lost to the depths. Well, you just can’t end on a shot like that—so I went out and bought what I could afford: a one piece, yellow fiberglass Hawaiian Sling. The hunt was on—I went out to Fort Ross and shot myself a rather large Greenling. From there, I stepped up to mini pneumatic gun- which I used to dispatch my first Lingcod. I soon realized that the mini gun was not enough—and so began my immersion into anything and everything spearfishing. I became a dive shop “groupie”. It was through these channels that I found out about tournament diving- and entered my first competition in 2001.
I can’t really even say what intrigued me about competitive diving. At first, I just showed up to have fun. I did not take it seriously for the longest time. It took me a few years to realize how much hard work you had to put in to be able to compete at any considerable level. I guess after being crushed by the Old Timers for years- I finally figured out what it took to win.
It’s been a memorable journey and a priceless adventure. I’m most grateful for the friends I’ve made along the way and all of the good times.

NATIONALS (Team)
*2016- 1st Place Team
*2012- 2nd Place Team
*2009- 3rd Place Team
*2008- 5th Place Team

NATIONALS (Individual)
*2016- 2nd Place
*2012- 6th Place
*2014- WORLD TEAM QUALIFIER

REGIONAL (Pacific Coast Championships)
*2014- 1st Place Team, 2nd Place Individual
*2010- 1st Place Team, 5th Place Individual
*2009- 2nd Place Team
*2008- 1st Place Team, 4th Place Individual
*2007- 1st Place Team, 3rd Place Individual
*2003- 3rd Place Team

CENCAL
*2010- Diver of the Year
*2013- Team of the Year
*2012- Team of the Year
*2011- Team of the Year
*2010- Team of the Year

REGIONAL
*2016- 1st Place Individual (Largest Fish) Carp Taco Meet (Black Butte Lake)
*2014- 1st Place Team, 1st Place Individual (Black Butte Lake)
*2014- 1st Place Individual TRITON X MEET (Caspar, Ca)
*2013- 1st Place Team, 2nd Place Individual (Lake Oroville)
*2012- 1st Place Team, 2nd Place Individual, Biggest Fish (Black Butte Lake)
*2011- 1st Place Team, 2nd Place Individual, Biggest Fish (Black Butte Lake)
*2011- 1st Place Team (Fort Ross)
*2010- 1st Place Team, 1st Place Individual, Biggest Fish (Black Butte Lake)

FRESHWATER (Nationals)
*2013- 3rd Place Team, 4th Place Individual (Lake Mead, NV)
*2012- 3rd Place Team, 5th Place Individual (Lake Powell, UT)

FRESHWATER WORLDS
*2017 – TEAM USA

WORLD RECORDS
*Freshwater Striped Bass:
40.40 lbs – 2015
45.60 lbs – 2016
47.05 lbs – 2017 (pending)

*Long Nosed Gar
14.20 lbs – 2016