How to Go Spearfishing and Be Safe and Responsible

Video how to spear a fish

To start with, you’d want to use a small speargun, as mentioned before, and just go snorkelling in shallow water close to the shore. Don’t get fixated on trying to shoot a fish, be relaxed and just enjoy the amazing underwater scenery. You might want to try a few short dives. To do this quietly and gracefully, you need to bob your head out of the water, take a deep breath, arch your back inwards, push your head down into the water and lift your fins up into the air to get a nice clean vertical dive. It takes a lot of practise! Once you hit about 3 meters you must equalise your ear pressure by squeezing your nostrils with one hand and gently blowing your nose. An experienced free diver will do this once every 5 metres or so, and some people can do it without holding their nostrils closed. If you look at the photo above, this shows an experienced free diver descending with his speargun outstretched in front of him, equalising his ears with one hand and gently propelling himself downwards with his giant fins. Once you reach a certain depth, often between 6 and 10 metres, a very strange and wonderful thing happens to your mind and body – it’s called the Mammalian Diving Reflex (MDR) . Basically, you turn into a seal! At depths below 10m you will enter a meditative state, your heart beat will slow right down and you will feel incredibly relaxed. Not everybody can do this first time, and for some people their body may start to shake, in which case you should slowly turn around and steadily rise back to the surface.

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At some stage you’re going to see some interesting wildlife. Personally, I’ve encountered, numerous species of fish, eels, cuttle fish, octopus and sharks including wrasse, bass, plaice, mullet, sting rays, thornbacked rays, dog fish, Pollock, seals etc. Obviously, you’d only want to shoot decent sized edible fish, but it’s really great to spend time observing all the other wildlife. If you can get a fish to take home, then this should be seen as a bonus rather than an objective.

So you see your first decent sized fish, you contain your excitement, you get a nice clean shot and now the fish needs to be retrieved and processed. The spear itself should be attached to the speargun with a heavy gauge nylon line and so you can drop your speargun and concentrate on grabbing the fish and the spear – don’t drop the spear or you may loose it! If the fish is still alive, it may try to swim away and may get off the spear so you want to grab it as quick as possible and minimise it’s suffering. Grab the fish, hold it against your body and carefully push your knife into the top of it’s head into an imaginary triangle located behind it’s eyes. Take care not to stab yourself or get stabbed by sharp fish spines. Now that the fish is dead, weave your fish carrier prong through it’s mouth or head so that it is secure and wont come off as you swim forwards. Watch out for seals, sharks etc who will be attracted to your bleeding fish. If you don’t have a knife, you’re going to find it really hard to kill the fish and the fish will suffer more – so get a knife!

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The other two photos above show some more advanced spearfishing techniques. One of the divers has a torch and is on the sea bed looking for a fish in a dark hole. The other diver is in a wreck in a camoflaged wetsuit holding onto a metal beam for stabilisation against the current. Another common technique that people use is to dive down to a likely spot and hide in the seaweed until a fish comes swimming along – it’s a lot more effective than you might think!


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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>