Long Island, New York Scuba Diving

Our Long Island Scuba diving adventures and events

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Bridge Jumper - A Ponquogue Bridge Dive

Yesterday, I found myself at the Ponquogue Bridge. As usual I had gotten there early so I had plenty of time to check out the conditions and watch the tide. I was on the North side of the channel where there is less fisherman and divers. It’s a much longer swim to some of the sites but I’ve become accustomed to it. On this day the bay water was a very sloppy green with tons of seaweed mixed in. The prospect of swimming the 100yds to blue water in the main channel was not something I was looking forward to.
As always, I took a walk to the end of the bridge to check the conditions in the channel. Amazingly there was a clear line between the green bay water and the fresh ocean water of the channel and it was only five feet from the end of the bridge. I also noticed that someone had torn down a few feet of chain link fence from the end of the bridge and now the low rail was very exposed and accessible. Peering over the rail down to the water I estimated a drop of nine feet or so. I stood there for a few minutes working out the execution of something I clearly thought I would dismiss from my mind. However, when I put the pieces together it worked out. I knew I could handle the drop even if I belly flopped and there didn’t seem to be anything I could snag on. The only real issue was climbing up and over the rail with all my gear and weight on. From there I would have to get into a sitting position and just tip forward a little with a slight push from my feet. In the worst case I figured I would tip over backward and land on the bridge again.
With the physics worked out, I walked back to my gear still believing I would bail on the whole idea. But I found myself gearing up and walking back to the end of the bridge. The fisherman on the bridge looked a little cross-eyed as I casually strolled past them in full regalia and armed with a speargun. In moments I was climbing the rail and swing my fins over to the outer side. It was a little precarious balancing there for the 10 seconds it took for me to make sure nothing was hanging loose. I had gathered all my gear and mask and belt and had a good grip on all of them. And then over I went and landed with an uneventful splash. I half wanted to give an OK sign but quickly realized the fishermen might mistake it for water ballet and pelt me with sinkers.
A quick “phsst and a gargle” from my BC and I was on the bottom. In two kicks I was in clear water with a full tank.
I went on to have a very long relaxing dive. I hit the pipe field, the new bridge and everything in between. I even took a few Fluke for the table. When I came out an hour later most of the fishermen were still there and they were waiting for me. It seems my dramatic entrance had somehow inspired them and they wanted to ask questions and see if I caught anything. I passed out a few lures I had picked up off the bottom. I figured it was good diplomacy and they were sure grateful.
Anyway, that’s the story of the day I jumped off the Ponoquogue Bridge. I don’t recommend it and I hate to think of some Schmuck getting hurt trying to duplicate it. After all, I am a professional. With just the right amount off idiot mixed in to make it fun.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Panther Pro 45 Speargun Review

SimplicityAccuracyStealthDurabilityFlexibilityPriceOverall Impression

Rating: 1 worst-5 best

Overall Impression:

Configured specifically for
the rough and tumble conditions of the Americas Northeast, the Panther
Pro 45 speargun will enable any Spearo to bring his best game to the
water. Whether you are hunting wrecks, jetties, channels or moving surf
this speargun will hunt.

The Panther Pro 45 meets the
specific and harsh criteria of the diverse northeast underwater hunter
and can be used to hunt a w3ide range of species from Fluke and Flounder
to larger game like grouper and Striper. However, its features make
it a hunter in almost any marine environment. I really like this gun
and have added it to my regular arsenal for Striper and Fluke spearfishing
off of Long Islands Jetties and beaches. It’s powered well and is
so comfortable and easy to load. I guarantee more fish with this gun
simply because it is so easy and fast to load with minimal body movement
and a virtually silent release.


This is one seriously simple,
economical design. The composite gun is ergonometric ally designed to
load easily and carries and holds just as well in even the strongest
currents. This is due to the mid-handle design and narrow form fit grip
that can accommodate many different sized hands with even the thickest
dive gloves.

The trigger, sear and line
release mechanism use an absolute minimum of parts and are designed
and configured to eliminate wear.

The top loading muzzle is the
most efficient feature of the gun. By simply snapping the shaft into
the muzzle, load times are incredibly short and very safe. Using this
loading method you will never need to change your position or hyper
extend your body and arms to load a gun again. This means you can load
the gun with a minimum of movement and disturbance. More fish for you!


The price of the Panther Pro
45 makes everyone a winner. In comparison to other spearguns the Panther
Pro 45 is packed with features at a very economical price that is within
reach of almost any budget. No other gun in this price range could receive
such high marks.


The panther Pro 45 speargun
has great accuracy due to its fiberglass composite integrated rail system
and partially enclosed track. The gun sports a medium weight 5/16”
stainless steel shaft that will track well under any power level as
well as supplying the durability and hardness only stainless can offer.
In addition the ergonometric narrow grip will give you much better control
of the gun even when you are wearing the heaviest neoprene gloves.


The dense non reflective black
composite material that forms the body of the gun contains no metal
tubes or parts capable of vibrating. This is one of the most whisper
quiet guns available. Trade out the stock metal wishbones for a set
of bands with nylon wishbones and the gun is virtually silent.


The Panther Pro 45 speargun
is manufactured from the most advanced materials and processes available.
The super silent bodies are molded from the strongest fiberglass composite.
The body will not crack, delaminate, warp, peal or absorb water. All
components of the gun such as the shaft, trigger and sear are manufactured
from non-corrosive stainless steel. A 5/16” stainless shaft is also
a great trade between tracking, speed and durability. In most cases,
a 5/16” stainless shaft can survive any normal wear and tear without
bending or “whipping”. (A 3/8 shaft is also available if needed)
In short, the Panther Pro 45 is a highly durable speargun that can take
all the knocks, scuffs and bumping that demanding Northeast spearfishing
can dish out. It will never rot, rust, split or snap. This gun will
hunt for years and then some.


I really like the flexibility
that comes with a medium length speargun that can handle three 5/8”
bands. At the top of its power end the 45” overall length gun will
send a 36” x 5/16” stainless steel shaft out at rocket speeds and
cover any distance required of Northeast hunting. The gun can also accommodate
a heavier 3/8 x 36” shaft if desired. Having three bands does not
mean you have to use them all and the gun delivers superior power with
two bands loaded for striper sized prey and will also shoot great with
one band loaded for bottom fish and smaller species.

In addition, the snap-in muzzle
creates a partially enclosed track that enables the spear fisherman
to choose several different configurations of line such as the standard
shock cord that comes with the gun or a monofilament coil.

Finally, any tip of choice
can be screwed onto the threaded shaft.

Pro 45
JBL Sawed Off
Magnum XHD
AB Biller 48
Riffe Metal
All non-corrosive
Single piece
3 5/8”
üü ü
Top Loading
ü ü
One piece
integrated rail
üGlued on stripüü
Thin Grip
contour handle
ü ü
Steel Shaft
üü ü
Silentü ü

Sunday, April 02, 2006

God, I love to dive

April fools day was no joke this year. I had promised a student that I would do my best to get him into an open water dive on April 1. Realistiaclly, I wasn't too confident that there would be any good diving as this has been one of the oddest and cold springs in recent history. Not only would this be his first open water dive but, he also was going to be wearing a dry suit and 35lbs of weight for the first time. Add his oversized winter gloves to the mix and I knew I was going to have a down right clumsy animal in the water.
Well, the sun decided to show for a bit and we headed for the water. Just as we arrived at Cedar beach the sun ducked behind some black clouds and the rain started again. We donned our dry suits suits and I gave him a tutorial on how to use it.He would be tethered to me on this dive anyway. I wasn't going to take any chances on losing him to an uncontrolled ascent. This is truly one of the joys of one on one training. As an instructor I have a lot more latitude when it comes to what I can handle with just one student.
The water was a toasty 42. Much warmer than I expected. The vis was about 15' although if the sun had come out again I think it would have been 30'. We practiced a few basic skills and he did just fine. I didn't want to try too much so I figured we would just do a nice dive. I clipped my safety line off to him and we started out. drifting over some cold rock crabs and spooking grass shrimp, we made our way along the bottom. He was really enjoying the dive. We stopped every so often and I had him do a skill.
Truthfully, I didn't want to get out of the water. It was so nice and fresh. I had been longing for this and it felt great. I really didn't think we were going to make it into the water that day and I was very tired form an all week business trip. I guess the joke was on me. and this time it was a good one. The drive home was a peaceful one and my student had a calm grin the whole way back. I think I've created another addict.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ponoquogue, rays and concrete

That damn old bridge is still one of Long Island's best and most popular dive sites. Why? Very simply it offers clean refreshing ocean water, various structure and bottom types and all kinds of marine life. A friend and I dropped in at slack tide today for a relaxing dive out to the pipe fields. He is new to the area so I figured I'd show him the bridge in little, digestible pieces. We dropped in on the North side of the channel and scanned the first wall under the bridge for lobsters. Then headed for a few concrete pipes that are right at the start of the dive. One nice lobster but I just couldn'r reach him. He chose his home well.
As we headed south under the old bridge we found ourselves smack in the middle of a spider crab orgy. I don't think I have ever seen so many crabs in one spot. They were stacked three and four deep and snapping at us and some were hangiing onto my loose tether lines. Really enjoyed the scene but out to the channel we headed.
At the end of the bridge we were hit with that familar clear cool rush of fresh sea water. I love the taste , smell and soothing comfort it brings when you first hit it. To me it has always felt like a gift as it revitalizes and rekindles my enthusiasm. A few quick kicks and we hit the pipe field which is called so because it is a line of concrete pipe that heads straight North and South across the channel. Lobsters sit inside and under the pipes and Fluke and Blackfish are in abundance on either side of them. My friend was really enjoying the visisbility and abundance of marine life as we swam along the pipeline.
We came to the end of the pipeline and hit the large debris field that is made up of lost parts of the old bridge after it's demolition. Plenty of holes and I showed my buddy where to look for lobsters. He reached in one of them and caught his first lobster. Although it was a bit small and he released it, he still enjoyed the thrill. We dropped into the deep hole approaching the South side of the channel and a really nice Fluke flushed and started swimming down the slope. I fired and struck the Fluke solidly but the tip of my spear did not penetrate completely and the fish got of the spear and started a slow decent into the deeper part of the hole. My young buddy being only 25 years old decide to give chase. I waited about a minute for him to return and then went looking for him in the direction he swam. There he was 50 feet away with Fluke in hand and already on his stringer. I felt a high-five was in order.
The current had begun to change so I decided it was time to head back. I saw something very strange. It was a razor whip shaped eel or something. Then I realized it was the 7' long tale of a Southern stingray. We watched as it gracefully swam the bottom in front of us. It was very cool and I had started to wish I had brought the camera. On our way back we spotted two more rays as we kicked aside the ever stronger out-going current.
For me it was a good dive and I was glad to have seen the rays. For my friend who is a new diver, I think he was amazed to see all the great things along the short path we took today. He caught his first lobster and speared his first Fluke. I also showed him how to fillet it and gave him a few of my favorite recipes. So, in a way, I got to see all those things for the first time again. And I got excited about it. I think the guy is just gonna flip out when I show him the debris around the new bridge but that will be another story.
The Ponoquogue bridge is always a great dive because like most Northeast shore dives it is never the same. Tide after tide it changes like a calidiscope at sunrise.I one weeks time something completely different will be going on there. The rays will have left, the snappers will be larger and maybe the big bass will start moving again. It won't hold still for you. See it now or loose it forever.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Gus Bricker, Dogfish Scuba,Information for students who did not recieve their PADI certification cards

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to set the record strait as far as my instructor status is concerned. As you know I had to close my shop due to economic reason. This happen very fast and we had every intention of re-opening at another location. After much consideration I felt it would be better to have fewer successful shops instead of a lot of unsuccessful ones and since I have other means of making a living I decided not to re-open, but instead support the shops that have been friendly to me in the past such as LI Scuba and Ocean Rock. The dive industries is very competitive and many shops feel threatened by any competing shop. They often go out of their way to do anything to hurt competitors I don't think I have to tell you this. Any way that's water under the bridge I wish every shop much success.

I found out about the trouble with my instructor rating when I received a letter from PADI's QA Dept. a few months ago stating I had not been renewed or paid my insurance for 2004/2005 season (of course after trying to submit certifications.) This was supposed to be taken care of by my book keeper at the dive shop. After looking into this matter I found out that they never paid PADI ( no big surprise) I have responded to PADI's QA letter and hope to resolve this matter soon. If any dive shop has contact with any former students that need to complete their certification they can contact me via dogfishdivers@aol.com, or my home number 631-231-8510. My cell which should be working soon is 631-387-3855. I will certainly offer any former student who can not wait for me to get this matter resolved a refund. I will let my past record stand for it's self.. I have certified thousands of divers, donated my time to such groups as The boy Scouts of American, Cleary school for the Deaf,and countless others often providing scuba lessons for no or little cost. I have extended myself at no cost to students working with them when they had problems at no extra cost. I have spent many hours working working for LIDA, I've founded "The Dive Club" about 15 years ago and have promoted Long Island diving every chance I get. I truly enjoyed teaching scuba but under the circumstances am considering no longer teaching and would advise any instructors thinking about opening their own shop to forget it, it's not worth it. I've been teaching about 20yrs and it is unfortunate that some individuals would trash me instead of giving me some professional courtesy and trying to get in touch with me. I think it's just another way for the dive shop owner to get money out of a customer.

Thanks Again

Gus Bricker

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Long Island Diving Update

I haven’t been writing much lately because I have spent my free time diving. In the last month I have had the good fortune to take some big stripers as well as some yummy lobsters both from the North and South shores. Of late I have diving off my Zodiac on the North shore. I have been running out of Stony Brook and Port Jeff harbors to hit the nice string of jetties and drop stone points. A few days ago I was serenaded at the Port Jeff Jetty by a chorus of Toad fish. I managed to take one lobster but this time of year the toad fish move into the shallow still water and take every available good hole and start to drum. It’s kind of a cool feeling having fish make noises while you are in the water. I also shot out to Old field point to do some free diving. Yes free diving. I have been going back to my roots of late and I am enjoying the freedom immensely. I think all scuba divers should spend some time free diving. It builds confidence and it really lets you know what you are capable of.

So in short, The North shiore has been holdiong good visibility and the South shore has been really giving up good sized fish for the month of June.

Well, hope to see you on the water. And if you are interested in learning to dive give me a call. 631 285 1539

Monday, May 23, 2005

Blackfish Hunting on a North Shore jetty

Well, It's been a cold spring and it's taken a good long time to get the water up a few degrees. About a week ago I decided to try again on the North shore. As soon as I got in the water I looked at my computer and it read 50 degrees. That got me excited as the fish start to really move at that temperature. I swam out to one of my favorite jetties and started the slow creep from rock to rock looking for any sign of movement. Near the end of the jetty I saw a brown streak flash in front of me and it was gone in an instant. I held tight, held my breath and waited. Sure enough he came back to see what scared him. It was a nice big male blackfish with an old timer' white jaw. As he turned from me I fired and bagged my first blackfish of the season. Upon inspection the fish was covered in fresh rust. That meant he had just come off a wreck that he spent the winter on. Makes me wonder what wreck and where the heck it is. I saw a few more fish but could not get into range to fire. The fish are very skittish in the spring and you have to be quiet and creep along. If you startle them at all they are gone. They'll peel off the jetty and re-enter the rocks 50 feet from you. So you can find them again on your trip back.
The following week I did the same dive and saw at least 10 large blackfish. They were very skittish and I could not get any shots. I also had another diver in the water with me and I am sure that added to their nervousness. I did manage to shoot a nice big 9lb fish that I suprised as I turned a large boulder. whenever you turn a corner be ready to shoot. Blackfish will usually give you a 1/2 a second glimpse before they bolt. On my way out of the water I saw a fellow catch a nice keeper bass so the next dive will find me facing away from the jetty and looking for stripers.