Marvelous! Voices — The Splendid Things Underwater

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Joia swimming with the sharks at Atlantis in the Bahamas.

By Joia Traver, age 13

Arkansas is a beautiful place with many outdoor activities. The lakes are a big attraction. During the summer, many people rent wakeboards and tubes and head down to the lake. They take the weekend off and have the time of their lives getting whipped around on a tube. Some people like to show off their new sports boats and bake in the hot summer sun.

What doesn’t get much attention is all the things that go on underwater. If you have ever seen a red flag on the edge of a boat with a white diagonal line through it, then you have seen a dive flag. The majority of the people who scuba dive are spearfishing too. They bring a shaft with a spear on the end of it to shoot a fish.

Joia with her dad, Patten Traver, and her biggest catch so far, a walleye she speared on Lake Norfork.

I feel very fortunate to live in this area. Arkansas is one of the few places where we have just the right conditions to spearfish in fresh water. The water is splendid and is usually clear.

Spearfishing is fun even though we don’t always see fish. It’s about getting out on the lake with friends and family. It’s about seeing what’s down there. It’s about gazing up and suddenly seeing a ski boat while I swim along with my spear gun. It’s about finding the elusive walleye. Or a pot of gold. Or just a random fishing lure.

On really successful days we might walk home with a 25-inch fish! You can’t really tell how long the fish is underwater, but when you catch a big one, it’s usually a whopper. I have been impressed with myself some days. I would think that it wasn’t a very big fish, but when I pull it out of the water, I’m in awe.

The thing I like most about spearfishing is being underwater and sneaking along the bottom looking for fish. It is truly a silent and magical world. The fish like to hang out where the water is cold and you can’t see very far. One second you’re out in the middle of nowhere and the next you find yourself face to face with a huge underwater tree, creating an ominous mood that reminds me of Vincent Van Gogh’s mysterious paintings. Chilling!

Back in the boat on top of the water, we jump out of our scuba gear and warm up fast meeting friends who are out on the lake in their own boats. There is an enthusiastic aura to summer days on the lake, where some of my favorite memories have been made—like throwing watermelon to people lounging in the water.

Spearfishing in the ocean can be entertaining, but the sharks sure know how to get in the way. There are amazing fish in the sea, but sometimes it’s just too much because there are too many risks you have to take. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the ocean, and all of the water sports that come with it, but I am happy with the wondrous things I have here on the lake.

The water is perfect for boating and spearfishing now, and I know I’ll be making new memories soon. I just know my cousins and I are going to have a great time at the lake this summer. I want to try to break my record and spear the biggest fish in the lake this year! Because you know, “Any fin is possible!” M! June/July 2017




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