Speargun Fishing Regulations

Introduction to Speargun Fishing

Speargun fishing is the practice of underwater fishing through the use a spear propelled from a device rather than a fishing rods and reel. Speargun fishing, more commonly referred to as spear fishing, is legal in most states although there extensive restrictions can exist. Spearguns are intended for fishing only, and should be used as such.  Any other use can result in charges of public endangerment.  Spear fishing can take more than one form.  In saltwater, especially in states such as Hawaii, spear fishing is extremely popular and a part of the culture.  Many people's first experience with this sport actually started with spear fishing in Hawaii.  But most states in the U.S. have their own regulations and rules when it comes to fishing with a speargun, and it is very important to understand the specific rules and regulations of each state before bringing out that speargun for some angling action.

Non-Game Fish Rules

Spearguns are used for fishing, but in most states they are only allowed for use with non-game fish. In many states the same rules apply to fishing with a speargun as with bow fishing. Never shoot a projectile towards a person or occupied campsite, don't shoot toward a dock or ramp, and never use on a fish that is not approved for spearfishing in the state or area. In states that aren't coastal, common fish that can be caught with a speargun include carp, suckers, chum, and most invasive species. Always check locally to see what is and is not considered a game fish in the area.

Most states will regulate how many points or barbs can be on any given spear. Many states have a three point and two barb rule. Spears can have no more than three points and no point can have more than two barbs on it. For this reason, many spears used in spearguns look like small tridents. Some states have different rules and regulations than this, which makes local checking important, but by far and away the three and two rule is the standard regulation for legal spears to be used with a speargun.

A person should check up each state's rules before going spearfishing, but generally invasive species, junk fish, and non-game fish can be spear hunted and no others.

Speargun Fishing Photographs

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Example of someone spearfishing for sharks.Fishing gear that goes along with spear fishing.Getting ready for a day in the water.Angler just getting off the boat.
Example of someone spearfishing for sharks.
Example of someone spearfishing for sharks.
Fishing gear that goes along with spear fishing.
Fishing gear that goes along with spear fishing.
Getting ready for a day in the water.
Getting ready for a day in the water.
Angler just getting off the boat.
Angler just getting off the boat.

Speargun Tuna Fishing Video

Spear Fishing Equipment Rules

It is very important to know the specific rules for spear fishing equipment. Not only are there rules and regulations on spearguns themselves, but many states will also regulate the exact types of spears and barbs that can be used. Many states will limit the number of prongs, or limit the number of barbs that can be used on the spear prongs. Universally, poison is a big no-no, and it's important for anglers to follow these rules because spearguns aren't that common in many areas and are going to get DNR attention.  Don't take any chances, study every state's rules before hitting a body of water.

Warnings on Improper Speargun Use

A speargun is like a crossbow in many ways, these are designed to be used for recreation but they are weapons and will be considered such if not used properly. Even pointing a speargun at a person can be considered a criminal threat in some (if not all) states, and spearguns should never be loaded outside of the water. The projectile function makes it a concealed weapon according to most state laws, so it cannot be carried around under a coat or in clothing. When transporting a speargun from place to place, the gun should never be loaded. This is both for safety reasons, and once again because of weapons laws in most states. Use a speargun properly and safely to make sure you have fun without any problems or even potential criminal charges (state laws on weapons are stricter and stricter).

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Comments on Spearfishing 2 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

I never went fishing in my life but I honestly did enjoy reading your hub. I learned all about it and it was very clearly written. Thank you.

Jerry G2 profile image

Jerry G2 6 years ago from Cedar Rapids, IA Author


Thanks for the comment on my speargun fishing guide! I do admit it's definitely not most people's norm when it comes to angling, but the hobby is a great one which can be a lot of fun. Thanks again for the kind words!

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