Jensen Beach, Florida
Captain of the USA Spearfishing Team, Cameron Kirkconnell, considers braving drop-offs, temperamental sharks, rip currents, and 100-foot dives just another day at the office. He's a master mariner who holds 13 spearfishing records to his name, and travels everywhere from Indonesia to the Bahamas to host and guide trips, all while teaching new techniques to spearfisherman all around the world. Cameron epitomises a full-throttle life outdoors, and when he's not spending time with his family, you'll find him underwater in search of dogtooth tunas, wahoos, and even 50 lb. groupers.
What goes through your head when you first wake up in the morning before you spearfish?
I ask myself "Where's the wind from, where will the water be clearest, and when's the right tide?" Also, let's go find the fish of a lifetime.
Where is your favourite place to spearfish?
It's as much of a question as "When?". Finding the right recipe of conditions and being flexible on where and when the best fishing and diving in the world is going to be is what drives me. But there is nothing like finding a new spot that no one has likely ever seen or dove in that is unparalleled. That's my favourite place to be, somewhere new.
Tell us a favourite story from a day out spearfishing.
I loved seeing my father spear his first wahoo. I had that feeling I'm sure he had a thousand times before watching me spear a great fish, mature buck, or monster lobster. As a professional guide, I get to witness moments like that every day - watching fathers and sons, daughters, families, and friends enjoy that feeling, and capturing it on film and in photos so they can enjoy it for years to come.
How do you up your game year after year?
Competing against yourself is the greatest challenge. To stay at the top of your game, you need to be versatile and find new places to go. I also think about how to make the gear better, what I could have done differently in every situation, and apply that to knowledge gained from hunting with the best in the world to the next encounter or mission. I've always been driven to do something different, better, further, deeper or with better video and photos than the year before, and the guys/girls in the world that can hunt anywhere successfully are the ones I respect the most.
If you could do anything better what would it be?
Figure out a way to have my entire family and friends with me all the time on trips! I love traveling but there is no place better than being home with family. It's the reason I dive safely and don't take any unnecessary risks. I could dive deeper, push harder, make more money, but there is nothing better than coming back to your loved ones.
What haven't you accomplished that you aspire to do in your lifetime?
See my kids find their passion. At this point helping people find their own successes and loves in life is the greatest accomplishment you can have as a father, guide, husband, and friend, and although I'd love to spear a giant bigeye tuna, explore Alaska and Norway diving, and spear one of the 150-180 lb. Wahoo that I've seen, the stoke of helping others is pretty unreal.
What part of you, or what you do, reflects a spirit of restlessness?
My wife can easily answer this one: "When it's time to fish you fish, when it's hunting season you hunt, when the season is over it's turkey and lobster, or grouper season and stone crabs."
In kindergarten my teacher called my parents crying laughing when teaching the four seasons. I stood up and said you are wrong, there are way more: grouper, deer, lobster, gators, tuna, dove, turkeys…." When you grow up with it there is always something outside that will draw you there.