It has been an exciting fishing season with the effects of Irma on our reef ecosystem. The spearfishing has been excellent the past few months even though the water has been dirty. Every trip out I see something new and exciting. From new wrecks I have found to old ones that have moved everything seems different underwater. With grouper season fast approaching I thought I would offer some helpful tips to make your opening day more productive.
First off the most important part of Spearfishing is safety! I have seen way too many easily preventable accidents in my life. If you are Freediving always dive with a buddy and take a Freediving safety course. The information presented in the level 1 freediver course by FII (Freediving Instructors International) has saved many divers from serious injuries. You just can’t get the hands on knowledge from anywhere else.
If you are planning on Scubadiving make sure to have the appropriate equipment. This would include a safety surface marker buoy, whistle, and a dive buddy. If you want more information on safe dive practices take a course in advanced open water diving or the rescue diver course.
I teach new spearfishers often and have developed some techniques that help new divers. First stay high in the water column. Groupers are very nervous and will run at the first sign of a diver. Keeping high will reduce your profile in the view of the groupers and allow you to get closer for the shot.
Another hint is to not look directly at the grouper you want to stalk. Fish can tell when there is danger and will notice if a predator is looking at them. By looking away from the grouper you can increase your chances of getting close enough for a shot.
Having the right spear shaft is important also. With a standard Hawaiian Flopper you run the risk of a bent shaft. When the grouper is shot it will try to find a safe place to hide. If it runs into a rock with the shaft still stuck in its body it can easily bend it. If you switch to a slip tip shaft the risk of bending is reduced. The slip tip puts a short piece of cable between the shaft and tip allowing it to move more freely. It is also less likely to pull out of the fish because there is more surface area on the fish.
The last thing I want to say is to wait for the right grouper. In Florida the bag limit for black grouper is only 1 per person. With Spearfishing we don’t get to release our catch back into the water. So if your hunting a trophy fish wait for the right shot. If everything comes together just right you may just end up with a trophy grouper of a lifetime.
By Robert Trosset; Featured in Coastal Angler Magazine, Florida Keys Edition, March 2018