Spearfishing is a challenging and rewarding sport that has engaged fishermen worldwide
for centuries. Spearfishing may be done using free-diving, snorkeling, or scuba
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: