By Captain Tony Young
Introducing spearfishing to someone that has never done it before or let alone even heard of it, is always a fun task. Over the years I have been blessed with the opportunity to guide hundreds of divers on their first hunts in the water. The feeling of seeing all the stars aline for someone to shoot their first fish is an amazing thrill. Some divers truly take to it and spearfishing becomes more of a way of life than just a way to put a fresh meal on the table. But of course, this doesn’t happen overnight, as much as we wish it could, spearfishing does take a lot of patience and practice. Many people question what spearfishing is, why they should do it, and why I am so obsessed with it. My goal for this article is to answer those questions and help you dive headfirst into the sport that will change your life like it has mine!
Surprisingly many people really don’t understand spearfishing or how it is able to be done. The simplest definition, I suppose, would be going underwater and shooting a fish. This really doesn’t define the sport well, but many see it this way. Much like running would look silly to someone that does not run. Spearfishing is a way to sustainably harvest fish, but at the core it is much more. It is a form of evolution for an individual, it kicks in primal instincts, it sharpens our minds and strengthens our bodies. Most importantly, spearfishing connects divers with the ocean and the fish that live there. Spearfishermen need to learn about the environment they hunt and the fish they target. So, although spearfishing is a means to harvest fish for food, there is a lot more hidden behind the word!
So why should you spearfish, like it or not you are perfectly designed for it. When you were first born, if dropped in the water, instinct would kick in and you would hold your breath. This is known as a dive reflex and the average newborn can hold their breath for up to a minute. As you become older, this dive reflex is lost and so is your breath holding ability. Through training and practice you can learn to find this dive reflex and kick it into action when spearfishing. This is no secret, there are now many agencies offering training and certifications for freediving. All of these courses focus on diver education and safety, helping you develop the skills that you were born with in a safe manner. Furthermore, spearfishing will heighten your senses and you will become more aware about your surroundings. You will notice small changes on the reef while diving and be able to predict fish movements before they happen. These heightened senses gained through spearfishing can help you in many other aspects of your life. Spearfishing is a passion driven sport. You do it because you need it, love it, and long for the time in the water. You’ve heard of the high that marathon runners get, well landing a nice fish that you have worked hard for is just the same if not better! These are all reasons why so many divers love to spearfish and why you will as well.
We all have our passions and obsessions in life. For me it is spearfishing, for you it may be something else. What I love most about spearfishing is how it has driven me year after year to evolve and become better. To be in better shape, eat healthier, learn more about the fisheries, be engaged in conservation, advocate for fisheries, the list goes on. There is always a next level, a more challenging fish to hunt, a new spot to dive, or new obstacles to overcome. As you grow in this sport, you will also grow as a person, this is why I believe so many divers have turned spearfishing into a way of life, rather than just a sport. However, you land in the ocean, be open to spearfishing and all that comes with it! You might just find a hidden obsession that you never knew existed!
Although most of us have seen or heard of spearfishing, many of us do not see it in the ways described above. Spearfishing is much more than just a way to harvest fish, it’s something that we are all built for, and many of us can’t live without it! The next time you load up the boat to head offshore, think about dropping below the surface. Think about taking a class, or a charter, to learn more about spearfishing. If you currently dive, think about how you can become better, both for yourself and for the fish. Be more selective, seek larger and more challenging fish, aim for better shots and stronger dives. Remember that every time you drop below the surface, you are one of the few in the world to do so. Very few people ever see below the waves, let alone harvest fish in this manner. This all makes the success and memories that much more meaningful.