Spearfishing is a challenging and rewarding sport that has engaged fishermen worldwide for centuries. Spearfishing may be done using free-diving, snorkeling, or scuba diving techniques.
Thousands of anglers engage in spearfishing every year. Spearfishing effectively takes practice and effort but it's also the most exciting way to "catch the big one". Always exercise caution when spearfishing.
One of the best tricks a spearfisherman can take advantage of when spearfishing is a fish's curiosity. Fish see their world with their eyes and with vibrations picked up by their lateral line. Experienced spearfishermen take advantage of this by moving very slowly in the water, and by using weights to carry them to the bottom rather than kicking of fins to minimize vibration.
Once on the bottom or in sight of his spearfishing target a spearfisherman will remain perfectly still, and lack of vibration in the water will usually cause the fish to come within spear range to investigate. Experienced shore spearfishermen will travel along the shoreline and prepare for an entrance to the water and go straight to the bottom for as long as they can hold their breath.
Any large creature in the area will usually come to investigate the appearance and then disappearance of something, as no picture is available to their lateral line of a non moving object. Any rocks or other objects on the bottom that the spearfisherman can get close to will further disguise his appearance and warrant closer investigation by fish within 40 yards. Exiting the water and moving 40 yards down the shore usually produces another shot at a big one.
Experienced spearfishing divers will carry several small pieces of coral or shells and when their prize is reluctant to come into spear range, rubbing or clicking of these usually draws them closer. Throwing up sand also will bring them closer and helps to camouflage the spearfishing diver. Contact with coral should be avoided as this may damage the reef. Blue water spearfishing divers will float on the surface 100 yards from their boat and continue to rap a dive knife or a softer object against their spear gun until a big one comes to investigate.
In areas where many holes are available for a fish to hide in, a strong spearfishing swimmer can clip his gun to his belt, and force them into a hole by swimming full speed and slapping his cupped hands on the surface with each stroke. Another shoreline spearfishing technique for the big ones is to spear fish that are favorite prey of the desired species or collect the seaweed, mussels, etc. that they eat and chum them into the area.
Some think chumming the water is dangerous as it will draw sharks, but many big predator fish travel with reef sharks, and the instances of spearfisherman being attacked is a very low percentage of the total number of shark attacks.
Spearfishing in areas with many sharks larger than 8 feet and of aggressive species does not require chumming as these areas are plentiful in big fish that are not used to seeing spearfisherman. Care needs to be taken in these areas to stay out of areas where blood from a kill is in the water.
Spearing is defined as “the catching or taking of a fish by bow hunting, gigging, spearfishing, or by any device used to capture a fish by piercing its body. Spearing does not include the catching or taking of a fish by a hook with hook and line gear or by snagging (snatch hooking).”
Spearfishing is defined as “the catching or taking of a fish through the instrumentality of a hand or mechanically propelled, single or multi-pronged spear or lance, barbed or barbless, operated by a person swimming at or below the surface of the water.”
The use of powerheads, bangsticks, and rebreathers remains prohibited. The following is a list of species that are prohibited for harvest by spearing. Any other species not listed that are managed by the Commission, and those species not managed by the Commission, are allowed to be harvested by spearfishing.
Fishermen who catch and/or sell fish harvested by spearing are subject to the same rules and limitations that other anglers in the state are required to follow.
Hawaiian sling is the only approved spearfishing device. Use of scuba gear or an air compressor to harvest fish, conch, crawfish and other marine animals is prohibited. Spearfishing is not allowed within one mile off the coast of New Providence, within one mile off the south coast of Freeport, Grand Bahama and within 200 yards of the coast of all Out Islands. Spearing or taking marine animals by any means is prohibited within national sea parks.
The hawaiian sling utilizes a basic design similar to an underwater slingshot. In the Bahamas, the pole spear and the hawaiian sling are the only legal tools for spearfishing underwater. It's the most primitive of underwater weapons and is still used by spearfishing islanders today as a means to catch their fish. Slings are made out of different material including wood, plastic, and steel. A latex rubber tube is attached to the base sling and is pulled back with a limited range depending upon the user. Typically, you must get very close to the fish to spear it.
Legal spearfishing in the Gulf of Mexico includes the following fish: