By: Capt. Tony Young

Winter is here in the Florida Keys and that means we are shifting into our pelagic spearfishing season. Do not get confused, pelagic fishery doesn’t just mean wahoo. The South Atlantic is filled with an abundance of species for divers to target. Wahoo is always at the top of the list, but Yellow Jack, African Pompano, and Kingfish are just a few of the many fish you will run into. Not all of us get the opportunity to travel and chase pelagics year-round; so this is our time to tune up, re-rig, and gear up for what should be another successful winter!
Each year, we cycle through our gear. If you are an avid hunter, this is a great way to always stay in fresh equipment and pass your used gear to someone that is up and coming. This year I am dialing back on power and running a 60” Hatch Amero speargun. This gun is a true cannon and maneuvers better than its big brother the 65” Super Amero. The reason for dialing back is to run a leaner, easier to handle rig in the water. I’ll be focusing less on distance shots and more on mobility to close the gaps on fish. For suits I’ll be running 3mm and 5mm suits made by Waihana Wetsuits. I recommend bringing both suits on every trip, this way you can mix and match to keep your core temperature where it needs to be for comfortable dives. If you are getting cold, then your breath hold will suffer as well. We also dialed back on our flasher rigs and chum this year, running a simpler rig that flashes more effectively in the water. Keep in mind that as we learn a fishery, the fishery learns us, it’s important to always stay a step ahead of the fish and provide new options that will entice them to come in closer.
Aside from running new gear, which we all enjoy having, tuning up what you have is extremely important. From the tip to handle, your gun needs to be dialed in. I believe that preparation, along with opportunity, creates success. If you know your gear is perfectly dialed in, then you will hunt better. This includes sanding/staining your gun, tying new bands and having a spare shaft on the boat, always running fresh shooting line with no frays, checking your crimps, and having a couple slip tips on the boat. The better prepared you are, the more time you will be able to hunt and make the most of your trip. Neptonics makes a great rigging kit that has everything you need in a compact package. For anything on Neptonics site, use the discount code “4EVERYOUNG” for 15% off.
At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is be prepared for the dive and take the right shot when the opportunity presents itself. If you pull the trigger, you need to feel confident that you will land that fish. Pelagic species are designed to run fast and fight hard, this is one of the thrills of hunting them. Wahoo shots hold best near the tail where the anal and dorsal fin meet the spine, African Pompano shots on the other hand should be placed in the pectoral fin. Headshots or body shots on these fish usually skip off or tear out. Unless you feel confident you can pull those shots off, it’s best to go with what you know will hold. As much as you want to pull the trigger, there are times when you should not, holding back and waiting for the right moment is something that comes with patience and experience in the water. Sometimes not shooting will be the best decision you make.
Year round in the Florida Keys we are blessed with a changing fishery. With each changing season comes the need to dive different equipment. Have the right gear and be ready for the moment when it comes. Remember that preparation, along with opportunity, creates success.
Safe Diving!