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“Success Is Living The Life You Want”…words of wisdom from our kayak fishing brother Joel “Mooch” Lotilla who left us way too soon on September 29th, 2013.
2013 was a pretty intense year for me with a lot of ups and downs…But I tried to keep Joel’s words in my mind when things got rough or stressful, and to think about them when making decisions about what path to take in life…at home…at work…online…and in the water.
From a diving standpoint, I told myself at the beginning of the year that I wanted to get as many Personal Bests (PBs) as possible, shoot my first Halibut, shoot my first Male Sheephead and reclaim my Monkeyface State Record. The path I chose to achieve those goals was to play the NorCal Kayak Angler’s Diver Of The Year comp, and challenge myself to enter as many species as I could.I threw myself into DOTY from the very get go and was out in snotty winter storms in January hunting for all the different species on the list…by the end of February I had managed to get all the more common species, and had also found a copper and my first sheephead of the year.

My birthday is in March so took several days off work to explore new territory and hunt new species. The more southern areas of Monterey County yielded a PB Cabezon, a PB Vermillion, and two more nice female sheephead.
In April I took my longest monkeyface yet…31 inches of majestic eel. But its belly was empty so was still short of breaking the state record. In May I managed to take my first Male sheephead, and my biggest abalone yet up off Abalone Point in Shelter Cove while up there for Gimme Shelter. Starting in June I began my quest to find and shoot a Halibut…hours and hours of staring at literally miles of sand underwater…skipping out of work early and often, bringing home coolers with no fish, just ice and empty beer cans…

July brought more Halibut hunting and empty sand, another big female sheephead, and another 30+ inch monkey that was just one measly ounce short of the state record. In July we also held the fourth annual Pay It Forward Event which raised over $10k for Joel.
August had me still staring at sand and then it took me up to the Albion Open where I found tons of abalone and uni to share at the campground and a PB Black.  On August 30th I finally found my Halibut…in an area I had looked a gazillion times already…have no clue how I didn’t botch the shot, but I didn’t and was SO STOKED to finally swim into shore with that fish!!
In September, a week after getting my Halibut, I explored a new area and found two monkeys over 30 inches. One had its belly stuffed full of rotting kelp and a small octopus and it weighed 7.36 pounds. New State Record, and the third time I have now been the State Record Holder!!!
On September 29th, Joel passed and over 100 kayak anglers paddled out to spread his ashes off the coast of Half Moon Bay on October 13th. Saying goodbye to Joel was one of the hardest things I have ever done but it feels really good knowing that we were able to send him off to Heaven together as a group and scatter his ashes in the place that he loved…all throughout that emotional month I used the ocean as my therapist and spent a bunch of time in the water and was rewarded with a PB greenling and a nice 19 inch Olive. In November, I headed North a few times to get the last of my 24 abs for the year and also managed to take my first Giant Pacific Octopus and find my first real abalone pearl.
In December, my goal was to get a nice big winter Ling. Had taken many ~30 inchers over the year, but nothing bigger than 32 inches…In the first week of the month, the stars aligned and I was able to stone a nice 38 inch 22 pound Ling down in a cave at 50+ feet. My second biggest ever.
I am proud of finishing DOTY on top this year, but more importantly I will always look back at 2013 as the year that I said goodbye to Joel, and the year that I dove as hard as I could as often as I could. I consider 2013 a success because I lived the year the way I wanted, despite all the ups and downs. I know Mooch is looking down on me and is proud of me.
Below are some stats and a video from this year.
I got 11 Personal Bests: Copper Rockfish, Vermillion Rockfish, Halibut, Sheephead, Black Rockfish, Abalone, Greenling, Cabezon, Kelp Rockfish, Monkeyface, Perch.
My 16 DOTY entries (my biggest fish of the year) were taken from 11 different dive launches between Big Sur and Shelter Cove in Humboldt.
I had at least one DOTY entry/upgrade in 11 of 12 months.
I dedicate this video and my entire year of diving to my friend Joel “Mooch” Lotilla.
Love you bro!!!!!!