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Spearfishing: The best way to bring fresh fish to your table

Updated on March 24, 2010

Fishing has been a popular recreational pursuit for many people over the generations. I, however, do not feel that tossing a hooked line into a body of water is a definite way to bring home dinner. I love fish; that healthy protein is a dietary staple of mine. That being said, when I go "fishing" I want to make sure that I'm not just "waiting".

When you are spearfishing, you generally can select the animal you wish to eat. Of course, just because that monster Barred Pargo is looking at you with his large eye does not mean that he will just swim up to you and allow you to spear him. It does, however, reduce the chances of bringing in an animal too small, or one whose capture is restricted or against the law.

Spearfishing successes

Yes, Halibut can be taken by spear!
Yes, Halibut can be taken by spear!
The delicious Grey Bar Grunt.
The delicious Grey Bar Grunt.
My first Pargo. Not an easy catch, but well worth the effort.
My first Pargo. Not an easy catch, but well worth the effort.
Even lobster can be taken with a spear!
Even lobster can be taken with a spear!

While underwater, you can choose to use SCUBA gear (provided that you are certified in it's use) or you can make things much more interesting by free diving. Free diving allows you to silently approach the fish in their territory giving you a better chance at success. It is a challenge and definitely makes the playing field more even. A person can practice breath holding and become better at it, all while stalking their intended prey. All a person needs to free dive is a wetsuit, appropriate weight belt, mask, snorkel and fins...and a sense of adventure!

I prefer to use a three-sling spear gun with a barbed spear tip. The tips vary between rock safe tips which are less likely to break if you shoot rocks instead of scales, and the cutting tip which slices through tough skin and scales with ease. The barb on the tip prevents the fish from struggling his way off your spear- that is, if you penetrated through the animal and didn't just make a puncture wound.

The three-sling spear gun varies in length and the slings vary in diameter to give the novice and the professional different power and velocities relative to the type of fish they intend to spear. They are easy to use but require practice as you should be within a few feet of the animal..the animal which may interpret your interest as a sign to leave the area!

In order to preserve the flesh of the animal, you wouldn't want to spear the fish through the middle of it's body. Therefore, aiming your spear tip at the head will insure you get the most meat for your efforts. It's a good shot if you can shoot through the gills, but the eyes and the mouth offer a spot to aim and will ensure that your fillets are perfect.

Once shot, your fish will most often struggle on the spear. Make sure the tip is through the flesh and the barbsĀ open on theĀ side of him. Bring the fish to the surface and either deposit him into a basket or other enclosure or bring him completely out of the water. You don't want to swim in the ocean with a bleeding, struggling fish. You might attract the attention of much larger fish that might decide you are worthy of a meal.

Some people might abhor the idea of spearing a fish. It feels personal as you choose and animal and kill it. However, you limit the amount of fish taken by spearing just what you want for dinner and I find it's more ecologically sound than buying fish from a market. Who knows where those animals came from? Fishing practices world wide are often not concurrent with the sustainability of the fish that we eat. Spear fishing eliminates the waste and destructive actions caused by major fishing endeavors. As well, it is a challenging sport with the benefit of the freshest catch available.


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    • profile image

      Peter 7 years ago

      I am a big snorkeling fan, too. I have snorkeled in a lot of places. Love free diving to 20-30 feet. I love the flexibility of moving around freely. Being at the surface when I want to and then diving down for maybe 45 seconds and coming back up.

      Spearfishing is OK, as long as you free dive and as long as you fish for your meal, and not for sport!

      I prefer to swim like a fish rahter than like an astronaut.

    • Jennifer D. profile image

      Jennifer D. 7 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for your comment, Micheal Shane! I loved spearfishing in Mexico; lots of variety and beautiful weather to boot. I hope I wear out my speargun in the next few years. :)

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 7 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Wow! Looks like ya' mastered the art of spear fishing! Awesome hub!

    • Jennifer D. profile image

      Jennifer D. 7 years ago from Canada

      Hi Randy,

      Sounds as if you have the base knowledge and experience to try your hand at spearfishing. The equipment isn't expensive and it gives one an opportunity to learn so much about the different species that are excellent table fare.

      Thanks for reading and have fun!

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      I snorkel a lot in Jamaica and have speared flounder from the surface, but never both at the same time. I'll have to give this a try. Enjoyed the article!


    • Jennifer D. profile image

      Jennifer D. 7 years ago from Canada

      Hi Ron!

      Thanks for your comment. All of those species were taken on different days. I only take what I can eat...and that meant one day I took two lobsters!

      I love spearfishing and consider it one of my favorite sports. I hope you get a chance to enojoy the rewards of salt water spearfishing.

    • rocketjsqu profile image

      Ron Karn 7 years ago from Gainesville, NY USA

      Hey Jennifer,

      That sounds like fun! Did you harvest all those in one day or different trips? It looks like you've got enough to feed a small army. lol It sounds like you will be enjoying some fine food if you haven't already.

      I don't get to do much salt water fishing but I sure enjoy several fresh water varieties. Black bass, walleye, and yellow perch are my favorites.