When you hear the call of the wild and you feel the hunger for adventure course through your veins, it’s time to go spearfishing. As an epic adventure, spearfishing is almost unparalleled among all the outdoor activities. But as you can expect, there’s a steep learning curve to this adventure.
To climb your way from novice to expert in spearfishing you need to have some basic skills. From how to get into the water, to how to stalk and give chase to your target and how to stay quiet as a mouse underwater not to alert your prey to your presence. Each group of skills takes your game to the next level and makes you a well-rounded spearo.
Now each one of those categories would need a whole book to cover it. However, we know you don’t have the time to read a book to learn how to go after the fish of your dreams. So we condensed the vital tips and information you need in this article. Think of it as concentrated lemon juice. Sharp and strong, but effective.
Spearfishing Tips for Diving
Diving is more than just dumping your body clumsily into the water and hoping for the best. That’s just asking for trouble. After all, you’re leaving your element and getting into a whole new world here. Almost like a different dimension where nothing feels or looks like what you’re used to on terra firma.
Safety First. Learn everything you need to know about your wetsuit, the mask, the valves and breathing underwater. Get into a snorkeling or diving class before you venture out on your own in the big ocean with little diving experience.
Wet Suit. Know that the wetsuit gets your body temperature up pretty quickly. That’s because it seals your body inside and you start to perspire outside the water. So always keep it till the last minute before you put on the wetsuit. Right when you’re ready to get into the water.
Don’t Dive Alone. Accidents do happen. According to Murphy’s Law, if something might go wrong, it will go wrong. So no matter how good you are at diving, you wouldn’t want to be alone if something awful happens down there and you have no way of calling for help. Always dive with a companion.
Hydrate. We get it. The landscape underwater is fascinating and it’s easy to lose yourself among the reefs and schools of colorful fish and marine life under the surface.
But even though you’re practically immersed in water, your body is losing fluids and you’re not replenishing them. Dehydration could have serious damage to your vital organs. So drink lots of H2O before you hit the water.
Know Your Limits. This is not a competition and you are under no obligation to prove anything to anybody or even to yourself. If you can’t dive beyond certain depths, that’s fine. If you can’t stay underwater for a prolonged time, that’s alright. It’s better to live to dive another day than put yourself at unnecessary risk.
Spearfishing Tips for Stalking and Shooting
Now that we got the basics of diving out of the way, it’s time to learn some really neat tips and tricks to fill your bag and give you bragging rights when you’re having a drink with your buddies.
The idea here is that you’re a hunter or predator if you like and you need to act like one. Assuming a casual demeanor to spearfishing is a sure way to go back to the surface with an empty bag.
Go Down To The Fish. What sets the kids from the adults in the spearfishing world is how you approach your prey. If you’ve been underwater before you’ll undoubtedly know that fish swim with their narrow side up. This gives you a limited shooting angle.
What you want is to have the broadside of the fish. So go down to the same level as the fish to increase your chances of a good hit.
Know Your Fish. Some fish such as groupers will watch you from a distance and if you get closer, they’re out of there in a flash. Other fish like the hogfish are just too curious and will ample toward you wondering what planet you came from. So you need to study your fish and learn all you can about it. This helps you find and identify it and get as close as you can to spear it.
Go For The Kill. This is a hunt and your ultimate goal is to get the fish in one shot. Now, one-shot is most likely all you’re going to get. So don’t waste that shot. And then again there’s the element of compassion to consider. You’re not trying to injure the fish or scar it for life.
Killing it is more merciful than maiming it where it can’t feed itself and will probably starve. So aim for the lateral line where the fish’s spine is. Breaking the spine is a killer shot.
Tips For Being Quiet
Ask any hunter what their golden rule of thumb is and they’ll invariably tell you to always be quiet. They’re not asking you to shut up, rather, they’re letting you know that making noise, any amount of noise, will scare away the fish and waste the hours you spend looking for and stalking your target. So how can you stay quiet underwater?
Smooth Sailing. If you take a close look at the fish you’ll notice that they have big eyes. What you also don’t know is that the fish’s body is as sensitive as the Hubble telescope. It detects any sudden movement in the water. Fishes associate sudden movement with a predator on the attack. So they won’t stop to make sure, rather they’d turn and hightail it in the other direction.
Always make your movements underwater as fluid and smooth as you can. No sudden turns and no hijinks either. Not while you’re stalking a prey anyway.
Be Wary Of The Bubbles. The bubbles in your wetsuit are a dead giveaway. They alert an unsuspecting fish and pinpoint your location better than a GPS navigator. It’s not just the bubbles that you breathe, but the ones trapped in your wetsuit. So release those bubbles before you get into the water to make yourself less visible. Removing your snorkel before you go after the fish would minimize the bubbles you produce.
No Splashes. Yes, it’s fun to go into the water with a big bang. But you’re not in the community swimming pool anymore and splashing people on the side of the pool is only for kids to laugh at.
When diving after a fish, you want to slide into the water with as little noise as possible. You’d want the fish a few feet from your location not to even notice that something has disturbed the surface of the water.
Be Calm. This is not the same as being quiet. Being calm means you’re relaxed, you’re patient, and you’re composed. This allows you to lurk in the shadows unnoticed, prolongs your dives since you’re not using up too much air, and makes you a better hunter.
Spearfishing Tips for Catching Fish
Your spear be it a pole spear, a speargun, or a Hawaiian sling, is a powerful weapon. In the right hand, it can decimate any fish within sight. But just as spearfishing is fun and in some cases a lucrative business, there are rules you need to adhere to and tricks to increase your catch. Let’s go through them.
Respect The Law. Not all fish species are open for spearfishing. Overfishing has depleted whole areas and it takes years for these fisheries to go back to the same levels. Before you head to Hawaii or Maine or Florida, read about which species are protected and what is your bag limit of the other species.
Save The Breeders. While the local laws are not strict about this point, you should always make a rule not to go after big breeders. One of those breeders could populate a whole species for years to come. More fish means more hunting for you while preserving the species.
Get A Mentor. Let’s face it, spearfishing doesn’t come naturally to anyone. Even the ancient tribes that inhabited Hawaii and Florida had a steep learning curve and their own survival depended on it. So don’t be discouraged by your lack of skill or aptitude. Enroll in a local class and learn from the experts.
Practice, Practice, Practice. A spear in the hand doesn’t feel normal until you’ve spent long hours holding it, aiming, and shooting. Of course, practice makes perfect. The more time you spend with your spear the better you get at this hunting game. After a few weeks, you’ll be shooting like the best of them and going home with a bag full of the best fish.
Spearfishing Safety Tips
We already covered some of the safety procedures you need to follow when you go spearfishing. Among those, you should know your limits and never go diving on your lonesome. Always have a buddy or even better, go spearfishing in a small group. But what about that group’s limit?
Know Your Buddies Limit. Someone once said, a group is as strong as its weakest member. So even if you have good stamina levels and your endurance is off the charts, that doesn’t mean you should push everybody else to keep up with you. Try to be considerate to the limits of the others to avoid accidents.
Plan B. The idea is you should always have a few exit plans before you saunter into that shipwreck or explore that underwater tunnel system. These exit plans could prove vital if something unfortunate happens and instead of finding yourself trapped in a dark place, you will be able to call for help.
For example, you’ll quickly learn that getting into a cave or a reef is much easier than getting out. It’s easy to lose your way underwater and since you have no sense of direction and it’s mostly dark, you need to plan ahead.
Mark Your Spot. Being underwater makes you invisible to boats and ski jets crisscrossing the water over your head. So always use a buoy to mark the spot where you’re diving to alert others to stay away from that area. This saves you the risk of getting run over by a speeding boat or even hit by an anchor.
Watch Your Weapon. Accidents do happen. Hunters shoot other hunters by accident. So you can imagine the risk of spearfishing in a group where everybody is armed with a spear and visibility is limited underwater. Never point your spear at a human even in jest and always be aware of where everybody is.
Finally here are a few tips that only the expert spearos know and follow:
- Experts recommend using a dive knife. It helps you free yourself or your buddy from a fishing net. It’s also handy when it comes to finishing off a big fish that your spear couldn’t make a quick job out of.
- Do Your Homework. Before you take the plunge, research that specific area that you plan to explore. This helps you know what fish species to expect, how to go about stalking them, and any other points of interest such as caves and reefs that you could explore.
- Spearos everywhere follow the golden rule of never putting your arm or spear in a dark place. You never know what lies in waiting for you there. It could be a vicious moray eel with sharp teeth that will rip your arm off. Lots of predators hide and wait for prey. Don’t be that prey.
- Start small and build your skillset and stamina. Don’t go diving in deep waters when neither your body nor your experience can save you if something bad happens.
Spearfishing is a fun adventure and you should always put your safety and the safety of your diving buddies first and foremost.