How Do You Spearfish (in a Legal, Safe, and Sustainable Way)?

Spearfishing is considered by many as the most ecologically sustainable and responsible fishing method because you are selective of your catch, thus, maintaining the healthy stock of different fish. Before going on your spearfishing adventure, make sure to check with the restrictions in your chosen dive spot, and, as always, bring your dive buddy!
How Do You Spearfish

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Not only is spearfishing a fun activity, but compared to other forms of fishing, it is the one method that is recognized to be the most sustainable by environmentalists and underwater enthusiasts alike.

How Does Spearfishing Work?

Spearfishing is the method of catching fish by using underwater weapons such as spears, spear guns, pole spears, or Hawaiian slings. As a spearo, you need a pick a spearfishing spot, freedive to a comfortable depth, and start catching fish.

But that’s not all. The nitty-gritty involves learning how to freedive, familiarizing yourself with your chosen weapon, checking with the local authorities their regulations, knowing what types of fish you are only allowed to catch, and getting a fishing license if needed.

Is Spearfishing Illegal?

Overall, spearfishing is not an illegal activity. However, there are several aspects of spearfishing that may be restricted.

Spearfishing is also a very regulated water activity. The laws and regulations that you have to comply with vary from location to location.

Why Is Spearfishing Illegal?

The are several aspects that make spearfishing illegal. These include:

  • Spearfishing in freshwater
  • Spearfishing protected species of fish
  • Spearfishing during closed season
  • Spearfishing while wearing scuba gear
  • Spearfishing well beyond the legal limit or the bag limit
  • Spearfishing using prohibited weapons
  • Spearfishing without a license
  • Spearfishing very close to public places
  • Spearfishing in Marine Protected Areas

Please keep in mind that these restrictions do not apply in every part of the world. Before spearfishing, the smart thing to do is checking with the local authorities the dos and don’ts in their area.

Where Are You Allowed to Spearfish?

Some of the countries that allow spearfishing are the following:

  • United States of America
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Japan
  • Indonesia
  • Africa
  • Thailand

These countries have different restrictions but one thing that they have in common is that they do not allow spearfishing in freshwater and Marine Protected Areas.

If you’re traveling and you want to know if you can spearfish in a new place, state, or country, please make sure to contact the authorities first to know their restrictions.

What Kind of License Do You Need to Spearfish?

Some countries and states require you to acquire a fishing license before you are allowed to spearfish in their area. Just be aware of the age restrictions.

Some places even require you to get a license for your speargun while in other countries, if you are spearfishing in groups, someone just needs to hand over their license and it will cover all of you.

Again, regulations on whether you should or should not get a license depend highly on which part of the world you are in.

Is Spearfishing Sustainable or Unsustainable?

Unlike all other fishing methods, spearfishing is recognized to be the most sustainable. It is known to be the most ecologically responsible method of fishing that is being practiced all over the world.

Compared to other ways of catching food, many people even consider it as the most ethical method.

Why Is Spearfishing Sustainable?

Here are some reasons why spearfishing is the most sustainable method of catching fish:

  • Spearfishing has the most selective catch
  • Spearfishing is well regulated
  • Spearfishing has no by-catch
  • Spearfishing creates no harm to the surrounding underwater environment
  • Spearos are only allowed to spearfish in certain areas
  • Spearos are only allowed to spearfish certain species of fish
  • Spearos are only allowed to spearfish as long they comply with the bag limi

What Is the Best Time To Go Spearfishing?

The best time to go spearfishing definitely depends on where you are in the world and what your target fish is. Generally, spearos consider sunset and sunrise as the best times of the day to go spearfishing.

However, there are several factors affecting the behaviors of fishes that you need to consider before you go spearfishing:

  • Temperature: This factor affects the feeding, reproduction, and migration of fish. However, there is no optimal temperature as different types of fish behave in different temperatures. How quickly the temperature changes also significantly affect how they behave.
  • Tides and Currents: Tides which causes water currents affect not only the shallow part of the sea but also the fish activity in the deeper parts of the ocean.
  • Moon Cycle: The full moon and the new moon can pinpoint the eating habits and bite time of fishes.
  • Weather: The weather also plays a role in fish behavior. The intensity and direction of the wind can affect the state of the water. With the presence of strong winds, fish also tend to retreat deeper where the water is less turbulent.

What Tide is Best for Spearfishing?

According to professional and avid spearos, the mid-tide is the best for spearfishing. It is the state of the tide between the high and low tide.

Tide plays a big part in fish behavior because this moves the food along and naturally fish follow the food.

Can You Spearfish at Night?

This can be tricky, and this depends on which part of the world you are in. In some locations, you are only allowed to spearfish from sunup to sundown practically making spearfishing at night an illegal activity.

In case you are somewhere night spearfishing is allowed, remember to be careful as this is a lot more challenging than daytime spearfishing. Do not forget your specialized gears and illuminations for your night dives to be successful.

Can You Spearfish While Scuba Diving?

This was a widely accepted practice before. However, more and more countries are prohibiting the use of breathing apparatus like scuba diving gears while spearfishing.

Here are some reasons why scuba diving while spearfishing is now being prohibited:

  • This gives the fish an unfair advantage. Because of the breathing apparatus, you can stay down a lot longer giving you more time to collect fish well beyond the bag limit.
  • This allows the diver to target bigger and better fish. This is bad as this may cause a decline in the population of the species because the biggest fish in the group is often at peak sexual maturity and catching them may stop or lessen their reproduction.
  • This poses a threat to the coral reefs. Studies have shown that the practice has a direct correlation to the death of coral reefs because spearos often take fish that are essential to the life of these reefs.

Can You Spearfish in Freshwater Lakes and Rivers?

This is a big no-no in many countries. But remember that countries do not operate in just one law so spearfishing in freshwater lakes and rivers may be allowed in your areas.

Shallow lakes and rivers sometimes become the training grounds of beginner spearos to master their weapons and to perfect their aims.

As always, better check with the authorities if you are allowed to fish in freshwater before conducting any spearfishing activity.

Where Do You Aim When Spearfishing?

Aiming your spearfishing weapon may differ from person to person. Aside from that, your aim also depends on the length of your speargun.

The rule of thumb is to aim low, but this also depends on several factors including the angle of your weapon, the depth of the water, and the size of the fish that you are targeting.

Does Spearfishing Kill the Fish?

Often, spearfishing does kill the fish. If your aim is good and you shot them in the perfect spot, the fish is instantly killed.

However, it’s impossible to have a perfect shot every single time, and sometimes you may resort to killing the fish another way.

How Do You Kill a Fish When Spearfishing?

There are several ways on how to kills a fish when spearfishing:

  • Iki Jime – also known as the most effective killing technique in spearfishing, this method is when you perfectly spear the fish in the brain which causes instant death. This is also considered as the most humane way of killing the fish.
  • Target the spine – aim for the neck so the spear will pierce the backbone evidently severing the spinal cord
  • Use your knife – in times where you hit the fish, but it did not die right away, pull it close and use your knife to sever the spine quickly

How Do You Remove the Fish from a Spear?

This depends on the kind of weapon you’re using for spearfishing. In some cases, the fish gets stuck in one part of the speargun which makes it difficult to remove.

Spearos solve this problem in different ways. Some of which include:

  • Spinning the fish off of the shaft
  • Spinning the shaft and pulling the spear out
  • Shoot the fish all the way through and pull the shaft back on the entry hole
  • Undo the swivel clip from the spear line and pull the line through the fish

How Do You Attract Fish When Spearfishing?

If you want to attract more fish, you may want to use flashers or dodgers. You can attach these objects made of metallic or shiny materials to your guns to attract fish.  You can also attach reflective tape to your speargun.

The movement of these reflective objects attract fish and the more you move your speargun, the more fish you attract.

What Fish Can You Spear?

The answer depends on which part of the world you’re spearfishing in. This can all also be tricky as there are different lists of fish that you can take in different parts of the world.

Here’s a short list of some of the best specie to spear:

  • Barracuda
  • Some species of Grouper
  • Snapper
  • Hogfish
  • Swordfish
  • Yellow Tail
  • Kumu or Goatfish
  • Halibut
  • Whitefish
  • Striped Mullet
  • Kole Tang

Can You Spear Mangrove Snapper?

This depends on your dive spot.

For instance, in Florida, you are allowed to spear mangrove snapper but with restrictions. The minimum size of a mangrove snapper that you can take is 10 inches. Anything smaller than that is illegal.

Can You Spear Parrot Fish?

Some places allow the spearfishing of parrot fish. For instance, in Hawaii, it is allowed to spear Uhu or parrot fish.

Nowadays, more people advocate to spare the life of parrot fish. This species keeps the coral reefs healthy and they are essential in the balance of the underwater ecosystem.

Can You Spear Lionfish?

In many countries, spearfishing lionfish is allowed. Some of the places notable for spearfishing lionfish are Belize, Aruba, Mexico, Jamaica, Florida, and Barbados.

Because lionfish are not predators, spearos can move very close to them. You can catch them using your short pole spears.

Can You Spear Triple Tail?

This depends on your dive spot but in Florida, spearfishing triple tail is not allowed. The only method of catching this fish is by hook and line.

Before you catch a triple tail, check with the local authorities if these are protected fish or not.

Can You Spear Sheepshead?

Sheepshead is generally allowed to be caught by method of spearfishing.

For instance, in Florida, you are allowed to catch sheepshead that is 12 inches and bigger and you are allowed a daily bag limit of eight (8) sheepshead.

Can You Spear Salmon?

Spearing salmon also vary from place to place. For instance, you are not allowed to spear this fish in Washington, Oregon, and California.

This is because it is considered as a game fish and is bred in freshwater. Most places prohibit spearfishing in fresh water like lakes and rivers.

Most fishermen who are allowed to catch salmon are those holding commercial fishing licenses.

Can You Spear Trout?

Like salmon, trout is also considered as a game fish and is not allowed to be speared in Washington, Oregon, and California.

However, in some areas like Wyoming, it is legal to spear this fish.

Can You Spear Carp?

Carp is one type of fish that is generally allowed to be caught by method of spearfishing.

These are often called as rough fish. Carp are also considered an invasive species and are not essential in the food chain of ecosystem in which they are found.

Can You Spear Lobster?

Like most of the fish on this list, the prohibition of spearfishing lobster varies from location to location. For instance, spearing lobster in Florida is not prohibited. If you are hunting for them, you should only coax them out of their hole and catch them with your bare or gloved hands.

On the other hand, spearing lobster in the Bahamas is completely legal. However, you are only allowed to use a pole spear or Hawaiian sling.

Can You Spear a Shark?

As a general rule, you are not allowed to spear a shark. If you somehow attract a shark while spearfishing, shooting at them would only anger them more resulting in a shark attack with you as the victim.

You are only to prod at it until it goes away and then resumes your spearfishing.

Be mindful of the rules and regulations regarding what you can and can’t take in your chosen dive spot as these vary.