Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Julanne Lum

Julanne returned on January 26 from Roca Partida, in Mexico, with a pending World record catch for Wahoo, estimated between 65 – 70 lbs. We had a chance to talk over the phone about this and why she enjoys the sport of freediving.

Julanne Lumm (or Jules, as her husband likes to affectionately call her), is a little embarrased at the thought of being what might be construed as a celebrety within underwater hunting. The concensus is that she has quietly made a name for herself in the freediving community of California. Along with her husband, Matt, they have formed a unique relationship in their 7year marriage in that they BOTH spearfish. Leading the hectic life of a working mother, it would seem that spearfishing would have little time in her busy schedule.

But she does make time for it.

Best described by her husband, Matt, "…freediving and spearfishing is the stress release for us that a typical walk after work is for other people."

Both she and Matt were competitive swimmers before they married, and Julanne feels that it has contributed in many ways to her lack of anxiety when she dives. "I certainly don’t have a death wish, but I don’t fear the water like many people do. Having been in long distance swimming allowed me to be aware of how my body was positioned for the most efficient means of moving through the water. I know that I use less energy because of this, which has given me the advantage of spending more time in the water without tiring".

Having a family would seem to tire the average working mother. But Both parents share the responsibility so that each can also enjoy their time in the water.

Julanne and Matt have 2 sons, Nicolas, 3yrs and his younger brother, aptly named…Hunter.

I asked Julanne about a rumor I had heard that she dove while pregnant.

"I actually dove until my seventh month. After that, it just became too uncomforatble to dive, and I was diving in Matt’s wetsuits and trying to keep a weight belt on was too much of a chore" She said. "Matt and I knew that we wanted to have a family, it just was a little sooner than we had expected. We had planned our first trip to Socorro and San Benidicto Islands, and when I found out I was pregnant, it became apparent that I either had to cancel the trip and lose the deposit, or ….Go Diving. I got the OK from my OB-Gyn and that was that".

Many who have heard of these islands out off the Baja peninsula about 250 miles, know of the stories of huge schools of sharks. "It was incredibly intimidating" Julanne said. "The water there is very sharky. I saw huge schools of hammerhead sharks and even saw tiger sharks. Others on tha trip commented on how lucky I was to have seen so many different types of preditors on my first trip".

Since that first trip, Both Matt and Julanne have made other trips down into Mexican waters to pursue the elusive pelagic fish that they seek. White Sea Bass, Wahoo, and Tuna, just to name a few.

And Wahoo is what Julanne came back with on her trip to Roca Partida down in those mexican waters that many of the top blue water hunters go to for their game fish.

I asked her about her world record wahoo that she took on their third day of diving.

"We had been diving in some really BAD currents, and I was getting tired. It was about 4:30 pm and it was getting hard to see in the water. All of a sudden, I spotted this wahoo underneath me, and since we were basically taking the first good shot we could get on any fish, I went for it". She explained. "Once the spear struck the fish, it started to drag me through the water. The great part was that it took me in the direction of the boat I needed to get to in order to get out of the water. As I began to pull it up so that I could dispatch it with a knife to the head, I realized that as it got closer, it kept getting bigger and bigger, much more so that I had first thought. I then realized that it was a possible record, and I got really excited!" giggled Julanne.

The photographer on the trip suggested that she hold the fish out in front of her underwater, and soon realized that the fish covered her 5’9" body. The fish was as long as her! After several attempts to get a winning photograph of her catch, Julanne finally said "I gotta get out of the water, I’m tired".

From the description of the catch that Matt gave, it looks as though the fish was officially 66 lbs.

The last thing I asked Julanne as we finished up our interview was about how she feels when freediving. "When I dive on a saturday for 2-3 hours, I feel like I have been on vacation for a week, it really releases me from the problems of daily life".

I couldn’t agree more.

Cliff Etzel
Cliff Etzel
Cliff is the former Freediving editor of He is now a freelance journalist and film-maker.