When Pete Correale was 11 years old and shooting striped bass in Montauk's summer waters, he couldn't fathom where it would land him today: world-record holder, professional spear guide, citizen of the world.
Pete has been a guide with Palapas Ventana for the past 6 years, putting clients on enormous tuna on the Pacific side and combing remote locations in the Sea of Cortez for trophy pelagics and monstrous reef fish. He splits his time among spearfishing hotspots like Panama, Montauk and Mexico. Just before the 2018 Blue Water World Cup, we caught up with Pete to talk tournament strategy and why he keeps coming back to Baja.
When you first started spearing, did you know you were going to make a career—a life—out of it?
I guess I didn’t really think about it like that. We grew up in the woods and on the water and it’s always been a part of our lives. I guess I didn’t really anticipate it as something I’d be doing for a living. I guess it was organic. Originally it started where it was like—how can I be diving and be in the water all the time and feed myself and make a little bit of money? The way it all started for me—it was in Panama when I started that outfit with my friend. There was no other designated spearfishing outfitter. It happened at a time when a lot of people from the US who were going to Vallarta to shoot their trophy tuna said [Panama] was the next big place to go. People were going there before, but it was low key.
It really came down to—how can I dive all the time? There’s the thrill of the hunt, there’s a connection with the ocean and fish and the cycle of going out and harvesting your own food. It’s a very satisfying, fulfilling feeling from beginning to end.
What brings you back to Baja year after year?
It’s an amazing fishery in both the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific side. It’s got a really cool wide range of seasons. A big part of it is being able to access remote areas that don’t see a lot of fishing pressure. There’s still remote untouched fishing grounds in other parts of the world, but sometimes the access is very difficult and very expensive to get to. That’s one of the great things about Baja, the ease of getting here. Coming from someone who lives in the States, it’s easy and cheap to get to, and there are remote areas that aren’t out of the realm of possibility.
I love coming down here and shooting wahoo. The bottom fishery on the Pacific side can be pretty outstanding. And yellowtail, it can be amazing down here for yellowtail.
Do any trips, dives or fish stand out in your memory?
The first trip I did with Tim [Hatler, Palapas Ventana owner], that was a pretty sick trip. We had just really good fishing the whole time. I shot a really big gulf grouper on that trip. It was over 100 pounds and for me that was a real trophy. It was kind of the fish of a lifetime. We had a lot of amazing days. That whole trip was memorable.
I shot my biggest wahoo down here. That was probably 4 or 5 years ago. It was 112 pounds. For me that was a bucket list fish—to get a wahoo over 100 pounds. That was definitely memorable.
When you spear for a living, how do you keep the sport fresh and interesting so you don’t get burned out?
I do that by putting my clients on trophy fish and watching them going through experiences that I went through when I was first excelling in the sport. It’s kind of like living it again, being able to be the catalyst for someone else to be able to experience what I was able to experience. It’s just as good, to be honest.
This is your second year in the Blue Water World Cup - last year you came in second. Do you have any particular strategy this time around?
It’s tough. Honestly the biggest part of strategy is if you choose to scout the couple days before the tournament to get an idea of where the fish are - and picking the brains of the local captains.They know what’s going on. Word gets around. They’re out there all the time, they have a good idea of where the action is. I guess I have a strategy. You can only take one reef fish—we went out [Friday] to a spot where we were hoping these fish would be.That’s going to be kind of a trick up the sleeve. We know where those fish are.
What makes this particular competition so special?
What’s really cool is the international aspect. For one, it’s not held in the U.S. or Europe. There are a lot of competitions that are in places that don’t necessarily have a wide array of species to hunt, specifically trophy pelagic fish. It’s the whole package. You have the awesome set-up at PV, you have Tim putting everything together, and people coming in from all over the world and people that come back every year. There’s a competitive environment but it’s not overly competitive. People are here first and foremost to have a good time.
We have such a cool group of people down here. It’s really good people from all over the world and some people that already know each other - people that have done trips with me in other parts of the world with me and it’s cool to get these guys together. It’s probably one of the freaking coolest spearfishing events that’s held in the world.