Madison Stewart -- life dedicated to saving sharks, helping fishermen convert to ecotourism
**Interview episode 121**
Madison Stewart has been focused on sharks since she was 7 years old. Growing up on the Gold Coast she was attached to the ocean at an early age, scuba diving and traveling the world as a teen ager, spending countless hours in the water with sharks of all kinds.
Today we hear of Madi’s commitment to helping protect sharks in Indonesia by working with local shark fishermen to convert their boats and livelihoods into ecotourism. Her story of gaining trust from a fishing village, bringing them a new, sustainable business, and helping locals develop their own sustainable model is really amazing. The horrors of shark fishing are real and present in Madi’s story in Indonesia and back home where she helped document the 80 year shark culling program ran by the Australian government, now being brought to the public with a new movie, Envoy: Cull (you can hear from both the director and Madi in episode 118 to learn more).
Madi balances the reality of shark fishing with her own unique style and feminine strength in the ocean, which you can see more of on her website www.projecthiu.comand Instagram. For now, sit back and enjoy the stories of this dynamic, young woman making a difference in our natural world.
We all have our fetishes for certain ocean equipment. Some are obsessed with their surfboard, others fixate on spear guns or flip-flops, while some feel that a pair of good swim fins are all they need in life. I’m pretty sure I’ve obsessed on all of the above at some point in my past but today my ocean gear of obsessive choice is the handline — fishing line with lure wrapped around some cylindrical device that you hand-over-hand fish with.
The hand-line has been around for a long, long time so by no means do I claim any aspect of its origination. The Polynesians were using bone hook and a plant-fiber line to hand-line back around 300 AD. Tons of other ocean-going civilizations used the hand line to catch their fish all the way up to the commercial cod fishery around Georges Bank of the 1880’s and beyond. The handline has been getting it done for men and women for a 1,700+ years now and there’s no end in sight. Cruisers let out meat lines while they make their sailing passages, subsistence fishing persists today from dugout canoes with the handline, and recreational tuna fisherman will add handlines to their rod / reel troll set-ups.
When you look at fishing in general, technology has changed much of the way we do it today. From electronic depth sounders, satellite imagery of sea surface temperature to composite materials and electric reels, the sport and life of fishing has changed. But not the handline. Not much anyway. At its core, the handline is a roll of fishing line with a hook tied at the end. That’s it.
The material used in the handline has changed — I use tuna cord instead of woven plant fiber — but the simple concept of the hand line has not been touched. And that’s what I love most about it — the simplicity.
To use the handline, just unwind your line into the ocean. Jig your bait or lure up and down. Get bit. Then slowly and gently pull up your catch. Repeat. Anybody can use the handline effectively and I’ve seen my kids catch fish with it when use of ‘advanced technology’ rod and reel set-ups were too difficult for their young hands (and minimal patience).
While usage is simple, so is the set-up and maintenance. My current handline is about 80 feet of tuna cord (200lb strength) with 8 feet of 50 lb mono leader attached to a 32 oz water bottle. The bottle is multipurpose as reel, float, and carry case for fishing license, granola bar, and extra lures.
That’s it. Simple.
I use my handline exclusively from my soft top surfboard and compliment it with a small gaff, knife, stringer, and bungee cord. Add in a pair of mesh gardening gloves to protect against fish spines, teeth, and gill rakers and you’ve got yourself a highly mobile and effective fish catching set-up.
What you tie to the end of your handline is of personal preference. I always work with heavy jigs that go straight to the bottom with minimal fuss. Steel and glow diamond jigs are all I use on my Northern California reefs where various species of Rockfish, Lingcod, and Cabezon struggle to resist a bite.
Don’t be fooled though, there is some elegance required to fishing the handline effectively. This includes giving big fish line when they make a run without letting them take it all or tie you in knots. It also requires gentle looping of line coils on your lap or boat as you bring the line back in. Winding the line back onto the water bottle while fighting a fish is tricky and I’ve lost more fish than I care to admit trying this. Instead, coiling your line neatly in a hygenic pile while bringing in a fish will allow you to give line if needed while also allowing you to quickly send your jig back down once you’ve finished fighting your fish.
There are few things more frustrating than having to untangle a rats nest of tuna cord on your lap — it requires full focus but, if you are fishing in a sharky area, tends to distract your mind from the shark attack possibility (silver lining).
So go build yourself a handline today. Even if it’s a spool of mono line with a swim bait tied to the end — it’s so simple to get in the game. Fish that thing from a dock, boat, rock, surfboard, kayak, or anything and catch a fish like how our ancestors did 1,700 years ago. Only keep what you will eat, throw back what you won’t.
Stoked Grom Stories: Max Hart -- shredding guitar and waves, spearfishing, fishing
** Stoked Grom Stories #8 **
Max Hart is a 12-year old legend-in-the-making from Sydney’s Gold Coast. With a well rounded set of skills and knowledge in the ocean that includes fishing, surfing, and spearfishing Max is constantly busy enjoying life in the water with friends and family. Competing in state championship paddle races and surf competitions, Max is no stranger to pressure. Playing a leading role in the School of Rock Musical in both South Korea and Australia, totaling over 130 performances, Max rips on the guitar and continues to add this gift to his already impressive set of skills in the water. Max shares the ins and outs of his favorite surf breaks, like Byron Bay and Snapper Rock, talks about his favorite dive spots, and masterfully handles the dreaded lightening round of questions.
Greg Norman Jr -- kiting, surfing, spearfishing, world travel
** Interview Episode 113 **
With a family name synonymous with the sport of golf, Greg Norman Jr has carved out an incredibly deep and well—rounded life in the ocean. From growing up in the waters of Florida to years on Maui Greg has developed love and skill for riding all types of boards on the water — from surfing, kiting, foiling, to wake boarding. Adding on to this a strong passion for the hunt, Greg pushes himself underwater with spearfishing both reefs and blue water, enjoying getting lost in the flow that being in the ocean provides to us all. Throughout, Greg has placed high emphasis on close connection to family and providing greater access to board sports for all with his Shark Cable Park. We started our conversation around the role that the ocean played in his recent engagement to his wife-to-be (it’s a rad story).
It’s no secret that I love fish art and KC Scott, a name you’ll hear a few times on today’s episode, is one of my favorite marine artists out there. Whether it’s blue marlin pushing bait or a hog fish hovering above the reef, KC captures scenes of the wild that many of us lay awake at night dreaming about. Have a look at kcscottartist.com and if you find apparel or artwork that you like, enter coupon code OCEAN20 (all caps) at checkout and you’ll get 20% off your order. When you do you’ll be supporting this family owned and operated business that’s dedicated to helping us all grow our connection to the ocean.
Other pieces to our conversation:
Growing up with his father introducing Greg to the ocean — surfing, diving
Living on Maui and pursuing love for kiting — competing professionally in the early 2000’s
Story of his first date spearfishing with his wife to be
Discuss the ins and outs of foiling and how it changes our perspective on waves
Kiting and wake boarding trip in Prince William Sound Alaska with hair raising exit by boat
Wearing dry suits to wakeboard and forgetting to zipper
Spearfishing in the Bahamas and team sport of hunting and landing cobia
Wonder and beauty of interacting with sharks underwater
Sense of flow in golf and sports in the ocean and challenge of changing your mindset to slow down and focus on the present
Stoked Grom Stories: Cooper Sisters -- sailing South Pacific, surfing, diving, life afloat
** Stoked Grom Stories Episode 7 **
Growing up in my hometown of Santa Cruz, CA, The Cooper Sisters, 9 year old Isla and 12 year old Malia, left it all behind with their parents for life at sea. Since January 2019, the entire family has been living in the South Pacific aboard sailing vessel Renegade where the girls have transformed personally, spiritually, and athletically.
With daily life of surfing, diving, fishing, and sailing both Malia and Isla have chosen unique paths in the ocean, developing strength and confidence extremely unique for their age — from surfing hollow waves to diving with sharks. With frequent visits to the outer Fijian Islands, the girls have developed strong understanding and respect for the customs of tribal culture and have made friends with villagers, attended local school, and developed their own strong sense of self-confidence.
K.C. Scott has based his life off of two core natural abilities revolving around the ocean. The first, his ability to interact first-hand with fish through angling, freediving, photography, and spearfishing, to return with vivid imagery of their natural beauty and power. The second, K.C.’s ability to transfer those real-life moments into creative pieces of art that, whether on a canvas or a t-shirt, continually keep us connected back to the ocean. With a lifestyle of creating amazing art and pursuing fish in his local Florida waters and more remote locations like Costa Rica, K.C. stays humble and appreciative of his talents, nature, and those around him. To round it all out, K.C. keeps focus on surfing and enjoying life with family and guiding his young daughter toward her own ocean life. Great stories, energy, and inspiration from K.C. Scott. Enjoy.
I love art of the ocean and seeing highly descriptive paintings on canvas and images on clothing of the magnificent fish are key ways that keep me amped for my next adventure in, on, or under the water. If ocean art also resonates with you, check out K.C. Scott’s art at kcscottartist.com where you can find art and apparell that will look good on your wall or the back of your shirt. If you find something you like, use coupon code OCEAN20 at checkout and you’ll get 20% off your order. When you do you’ll be supporting a family owned and operated business that’s dedicated to helping us all grow our connection to the ocean.
Guy Harvey -- blending art and science of the ocean, spokesman of marine life
** Interview episode 109 **
Raised in the waters of Jamaica, educated in England, from his earliest days Guy Harvey has had a strong connection to the ocean that has manifested into a lifelong career of art, science, and business. With a doctorate in marine biology and incredible natural gift for drawing and painting, Guy has pursued his passion for the ocean and the pelagic fish and sharks that make it home to build one of the first apparel brands focused on the ocean. Decades later, Guy has grown his brand into a thriving, sustainable company that funds ocean research projects that deliver new insights into highly migratory animals and raises awareness of their strong value to ecotourism. Stories, perspectives, inspiration — we hear it all today with Guy Harvey. Enjoy.
Listening to a podcast like this with stories from the ocean can help keep us energized and inspired to do great things in the ocean. So can wearing some good looking gear with your favorite underwater scenes and animals from the ocean — especially when it’s sustainably made and directly benefits research and protection. Guy Harvey’s brand is just that — it looks great and does good for the ocean. So check out his art and apparel at guyharvey.comwhere you can also learn more about his ocean foundation and all of the science we’re getting into today.
** Episode 102 ** Every now and then you meet someone who blows you away with their strength across multiple disciplines in the water. Scott Kennedy is one of those people. As a fisherman, surfer, diver, spear fisherman, boater, and more Scott takes us through his life growing up in Southern California, migrating to Northern California, learning his skills in the ocean the hard way – on his own, and finding great adventure and memories throughout. From hand-shaping surfboards to a love of body surfing, working in aquaculture and sustainable seafood consulting, Scott gives us a unique and humble perspective on the ocean we all love.
If you like what you hear today, take 5 minutes and visit FishWise.org or SeafoodWatch.org and read a few things about your favorite, tasty fish and educate on best purchasing practices for you and your family. Let’s use our wallets to let seafood companies know how important sustainable fish populations are to us all. Thanks for caring about the ocean and thanks for being here today sharing in the ocean life of Scott Kennedy.
Born in Poland and raised in the cold ocean waters of Maine, Greg Lewandowski began scuba diving at age 9, running boats, and developing a strong love for being in the ocean at a young age. Today he takes us through his stories of living and working across the Caribbean, running scuba diving charters, fishing, and freediving on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai, his artistic approach to photography, and memorable moments with whales, sharks, manta rays, monk seals, and much more. You can find Greg on Instagram by his handle @seafeverh2o. And we can all cut way down on our plastic usage to help protect the environment and some of our favorite ocean animals we hear about today.
More highlights of our conversation:
First experienced tropical water at age 15 in Honduras setting him on a path of travel throughout the Caribbean serving as scuba divemaster and instructor before landing on the south shore of Kauai where Greg lives today.
Shares perspective on the spirit of Kauai and the ability for the island to either accept or reject people who move there.
Greg talks about running scuba tours for Fathom Five Divers, the amazing diving in the water around Niihau and the animals found there.
Most memorable experience underwater floating eye-to-eye with a juvenile hump back whale in the Turks and Caicos Islands
Spending time in the water with Hawaiian Monk Seal, local sharks, mantas, spinner dolphins
Operating tour boats in the unpredictable waters of Kauai
Fishing for the pelagic game fish in the Hawaiian waters — tunas, ono
Artistry that goes into making lures from scratch
Photography, favorite photo of a model on the beach just before a wave breaks around her
Evolution of freediving as another way to interact in the ocean
The abstract nature of bodybuilding relative to diving and being in the ocean (hint, wetsuits don’t fit so well but you need less weight to dive 🙂
Thanks for sharing Greg’s ocean life with us. Be sure to check him out on Instagram .
In episode 93 we check in with Brian and Robyn Cooper, a family from Santa Cruz, CA who, with their 2 daughters, left it all behind 9 months prior to live a dream of sailing in the South Pacific. Brian and Robyn describe their first few months of learning their sailboat Renegade, the ins and outs of sailing among the islands and reefs of Fiji, and developing confidence in their sailing capabilities. The Coopers share perspective on traveling in the outer Fijian Islands, surfing incredible waves, diving, fishing, boat-schooling the kids, and spending time in many local villages where they’ve learned and embraced the Fijian culture. We hear of how the family is adapting to life afloat and how their daughters, ages 9 and 12, are growing and changing as result of spending tons of time in the ocean and interacting with the Fijian culture. Brian and Robyn talk about the next major part of their trip which takes them over a 10-day passage to New Zealand then over to Indonesia and other epic parts of the South Pacific.