Community Spotlight: Darvil McBride

From Baja To New York

Hey there, spearos. This is The Stone Shot, your weekly dose of spear content (and maybe some fishing, but we try to keep it below the water line)

It’s the 3rd Thursday of the month! That means it’s time for our monthly Community Spotlight. Here’s what we have for you today:

  • Community Spotlight: Darvil McBride

  • Race Point: “People would call us crazy for diving this spot”

  • Funny Story: The cubera of a lifetime (almost)

  • Links: For your enjoyment

Community Spotlight

Darvil McBride

From what I’ve gathered, the photo above pretty much sums up Darvil McBride. A fun-loving spearo who doesn’t take things too seriously.

But don’t let that fool you, the tales that Darvil tells all but solidifies him as a bad ass spearfisherman. But before we get to those, let’s give some background.

The Stories That Changed His Life

When Darvil was a kid, his uncle would tell him stories of spearfishing adventures in Hawaii. These stories not only captivated Darvil but also inspired a life-altering decision that would set him on the path of a spearo.

Inspired by his uncle's vivid narratives about Hawaii spearfishing, Darvil chose to attend BYU-Hawaii for college. Within hours of landing on the island, he was determined to turn his uncles stories into his reality. Darvil shares:

“On my first day there, I used all my money to pick up a cheap three-prong and a US Divers combo pack of plastic fins, mask and snorkel from Ace Hardware in Laie. I went across Kam highway and jumped in just north of Laie point. It was so challenging for such a noob as myself, but after much toil, I triumphantly emerged with the only 3 fish I could shoot: the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (state fish). I was then brutally berated—perhaps they were justified—by a group of locals who inspected my catch. Regardless, they tasted delicious, and I was hooked.”

Eighteen years later, at the age of 38, Darvil spends as much time in the water as he can. Whether he's in Fishers Island, NY, Southern California, or the coasts of Baja, he always has a spear in his hand.

But That’s Not All…

In fact, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some quick highlights that showcase how remarkable this guy is:

  • He won 'Naked and Afraid' after spending 3 weeks in the South African Bush.

  • He was the winner of the 2010 Trans-Atlantic ARC sailboat race.

  • He became fluent in Portuguese after spending 2 years in the Amazon as an LDS service missionary.

  • He holds the titles of the 2021 National Freshwater Spearfishing Champion and the 2023 World Freshwater Spearfishing Champion.

  • He is a licensed and active practitioner of falconry.

I feel like someone should make a movie about Darvil.

We're going to try to focus on the spearfishing side of his life, but be sure to give this guy a follow, because, wow.

A Story From Your Favorite Spot

The Race

One of our duties as a Spearfishing publication is to never give away secret dive spots. But as you’ll learn, “The Race” isn’t a spot that most people would ever consider diving.

Here's a story from Darvil that explains why this treacherous spot got its name.

“There is a spot near the southern tip of Fishers Island called “The race". It is notorious for boat accidents and shipwrecks caused by the massive boulder field and very fast moving currents which can exceed 8 knots. People would call us crazy for diving this spot, but it became a favorite of John Dornellas and I.

When you dive down, you are flying around boulders, and sometimes into them. You tuck behind a boulder’s eddy and grab anything to keep you in place. You look from side to side for fish which will be swimming into the current. You can’t keep your gun pointed straight because the current is so fast. You aim your gun up current of a swimming striper and you have one chance to pull the trigger before your aim has been pushed past the length of the fish. It is fast, tiring, and a different type of diving that definitely does not appeal to everyone.

When the race is really moving, you will travel 100 feet for each drop. Between the chop and current, you will not be able to keep track of a dive buddy in spots like this, so you need to be advanced, and you need to dive as if nobody could possibly save you if you screw up…because that is indeed the case.

One time I got swept into a tangle of some strong fishing line which ended up wrapped around my left foot. The snag was only about 5 feet beneath the surface, but the current was so quick that I was laid out and could only reach the air with my fingers. I pulled the knife out of my belt. Seeing the deep cracks between boulders beneath me I thought “I better not drop this knife or I’m toast.” With an extra firm grip on my razor sharp SpearPro knife handle, I experienced a small dose of panic as the current was preventing me from being able to reach my ensnared ankle and foot. With some extreme exertion, I was able to bring my knees closer to my chest and slice through the lines, very grateful that the blade was still razor sharp.

Since this experience I always wear a backup knife when diving waters with any volatility. It is easy to drop a knife in a pinch, so best to have a backup.”

Darvil and friend with some nice stripers

A Funny Story

Hunting A HUGE Cubera

Since Darvil is clearly such a good storyteller, we asked him to share another one of his favorites.

Sometimes the Cubera of a lifetime is just a—well, we'll let him tell you!

“My favorite diving is in the Sea of Cortez.

My friend Ritchie Zacker always struts around with his necklace featuring the huge fang of a giant Cubera snapper he speared. So, a big Cubera had been on my bucket list for a long time.

I have had several in the 30 lb range, but nothing yet over 40. I was diving further south than normal, around Palapas Ventana, with my little brothers Hunter and Tanner. We were on a mission to find big Cubera. The viz was crystal and we were landing nice fish left and right.

At about 70’ below me, I spotted a massive Cubera. It was HUGE, I estimated it at 80 to 100 lbs. I followed it from the surface and kept pace with it as it slowly navigated the bottom structure until it went into a cave that appeared to be a sealed system. I watched for a minute to make sure it stayed in there while I breathed up and slowly made my descent towards the cave mouth.

Reaching the entrance, I slowed to a minimal creep, first guiding my spear into the black opening, and then my head and body. As my eyes began to adjust to the darkness, I was impressed by the actual size of the cave which was much bigger than expected from the formations on the surface. I badly wanted that Cubera to give me a shot.

Finally, back in one of the darker corners, I could just make out the movement of a gigantic fish eye.

The Cubera was looking at me.

I couldn’t really gauge what side of the eye was the main body and what side was the nose, it was too dark, so I leveled my SpearPro Challenger 120 right at the eyeball. I took a long aim, and fired, hitting it directly in the eye. I was out of air, but I could feel the vibrating thrum of a just-stoned fish tail as I dropped the gun and quickly exited the cave.

I triumphantly breached the surface for air and yelled to my brothers “I got him!” I was so excited. “He’s stoned!” I knew a Cubera that size would have some huge fangs on those beautiful mandibles.

I went back down and began to pull on my line and I could feel the drag of the stoned fish as it scraped against rocks inside the cave. When I finally got it to the entrance, my heart broke… I looked up on the biggest, fully inflated, beachball of a porcupine fish I had ever seen.”

This one gave us a good laugh here at The Stone Shot. Things like that happen while spearfishing. Like Darvil does, it's best to make light of it.

That’s it for us! We’ll see you back here in two weeks.

PS - We’re in the search for great spearfishing stories. This could be crazy experiences in the water, unique spearing methods or exotic spearfishing trips.

Any stories of your own that you'd be willing to tell? Respond to this email and we’ll send over a short questionnaire!

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