ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) J.T. Thompson was about 17 miles off the coast of Orange Beach doing a little spearfishing while diving The Lulu when he was hooked, literally.
“We had a snapper on a spear and myself on a hook.” He can laugh about it now, “I felt my neck jerk and immediately grabbed to see what it was. I knew exactly what it was.” He had pulled a circle hook from his neck.
Saturday, the fishing had been good around The Lulu, a 270-foot freighter sunken in 2013 as a fishing and dive reef. “We were actually the only boat when we pulled up put our dive flag up. Everything by the book. Had two other boats come up as we were sitting there. Essentially told us they were going to wait. We were going to go down do our thing and they would drop afterwards.”
Anglers and divers often share the same water but at a recommended 200 feet from the dive flag. “We had just shot a snapper and we were trying to pull him in and get him on the stringer when I felt this guy go up into my neck,” he says holding the hook and sinker he’s keeping as a souvenir.
Thompson was a hundred feet down when he got hooked, and it wasn’t only in his neck. There were circle hooks in his hand and his scuba gear. When he removed one of the hooks, it hooked the hose to his regulator and pulled it from his mouth. Meanwhile, he was steadily being pulled to the surface. “The boat started backing off the wreck. They thought they had a nice fish on.”
He grabbed the primary regulator from his dive buddy Will Clark. Clark started using his secondary regulator and in a matter of seconds both were on the surface. The boat left without ever making contact with the divers.
“I’ve caught many fish but never planned on getting caught,” says Thompson. “But I can say I know how it feels.” Thankfully, he also knows what it feels like to be the one that got away.
Thompson wanted his story out there to remind folks rules and regulations are there for a reason and a little common sense goes a long way. He says he only had mild symptoms of decompression sickness and is already planning to go diving again on Friday.