Posts Tagged ‘spearfishing’

Spearfishing in croatia

November 15, 2009

I went to Croatia on a boat trip for a week, which ran from split to dubrovnik and back, visiting a different island evey day (with catarina lines, booked with onthego).

We went at the very start of the summer season in late may, and it was mostly hot enough to sunbathe on deck but I needed a wetsuit to dive for a long time.

Spearfishing was really disappointing, probably the worst place i’ve been for fish. I spent a lot of time in the water in every island we went to (brac, hvar, korkula, makaska), and tried swimming near shore and offshore.

Most of the fish I saw (and I’d go for half hour with nothing at all) were smaller than a mobile phone, and very occasionally I saw one as big as (to stick with lounge comparisons) a sky remote.

It was a shame because I had high hopes after I found a shop a split harbour with racks of spearguns. I’m sure there’s good fishing to be had there, maybe the locals know the best spots. Maybe you have to take a boat way out into the Adriatic.

Still, the visibility was normally really good and the whole coastline is stunning. I’d be interested to hear if anyone’s had more success there.

Spearfishing; for total beginners

November 14, 2009

What is it?

Spearfishing is the art of catching fish by shooting them with a spear gun. So at the very least, you need a gun, and a mask and snorkel.

The gun tends to be powered by rubber bands (like the ones on black widow catapults), and on pulling the trigger they propel the spear (say, a 75cm steel shaft) about 8 feet. The shaft has a string which connects it to the front (muzzle?) of the gun.

So you go snorkeling, and dive down looking for fish, and shoot them. And eat them.

It’s fucking awesome, and if you were beginning to tire of beach holidays it’s an ideal sport to break up the cycle of books and beer.

But as with all hobbies, you soon find yourself needing more stuff, and the types of equipment you need depend on where you go.

What spear gun?

You’re probably male (that’s my stats counter, not sexism) and consequently you want to buy a gun. You don’t really get a gun for all situations, and they’re relatively inexpensive (compared to, say, air rifles) so you don’t need to. As with all hunting sports, my advice is to buy the smallest gun that’ll do the job.

Lets say you are fishing in the mediterranean, in somewhere like andalucia, and are just swimming from the beach. The med is pretty fished out, but that coast is still really fun to fish. Best case scenario, you might get an octopus or a fish a foot long (of course, it’s possible you could get something bigger but unlikely). Most fish there are smaller than a CD (to futureproof it for a few more years, lets say DVD), stuff like bream. So in terms of a gun you could use something as small as it gets, like 40cm long.

Why not get a bigger one?

A gun longer than 65cm might not fit in your suitcase, and £15 extra baggage fee each way is more than it’s worth. Also if you are hunting fish around coral and rocks, too powerful a gun will result in bent spears or getting them stuck. Plus as tempting as it is to buy a huge gun, it’ll be cringe when Rambo returns to the beach with a bream. So I’d advise if you regularly go to the med, get a small pneumatic (like a Cressi SL 40cm or 55cm). More on pneumatics vs banded guns in another post.

Crucially, get a diving float and a string that attaches it to you. This is super important everywhere because it tells jet skiers and boats that there’s a diver down, and people die every year getting hit in the head when they surface. Especially in the med with so many drunk-driven jetskis around, and on that note stay well away from the lanes they buoy off to let them ride up to the beach.

The float I have is inflatable, and has a line attached to it which runs to you. It bobs about on the surface 20ft from you.

On another safety front, you should get a knife too in case your string gets tangled in some rocks while you’re down. Also you need it to kill fish. And if you have a knife and string spool (coonected to the float), you need a belt. Rubber ones are best because they don’t slide loose when you get deeper ( and thinner). Finally you need a fish keeper which is a string with a metal rod, to hang your catch from while you keep fishing.

Snorkel, mask, speargun, belt, string spool, float, knife, fish keeper; that’s about the minimum stuff you need to go spearfishing in the south of Spain, or elsewhere in the mediterranean. Yep, that’s a lot of stuff but you can fit it all in one small rucksack.

More stuff….

You have to dive down to get the fish, and if your as unfit as me, you don’t have long underwater before you return to the surface for air. it’s way quicker to go up and down if you have fins (flippers), and freediving fins (which are narrow, long and flexible) are best.

Even more stuff…

If you go to andalucia in July/august/sept you probably will get away without a wetsuit, but you’d be surprised how cold it gets when you swim out and down. If you can, tough it out without one because it’s bulky to carry. Worse, wetsuits float so you need weights to counteract it, and all of a sudden your travelling with lumps of lead. If that’s the case, call a scuba diving place in your resort and arrange to borrow some for the week. Weights go on your belt.

Spearfishing in Bali

November 14, 2009

I’m writing this blog because I’m in the hotel, and I’m in the hotel (rather than spearfishing) because I lost my gun yesterday.

There’s not too much info about spear fishing here, and not too much I can add. Having asked lots of people here, nobody seems to know whether it’s legal or not. One dive centre I went to in benoa:

‘hi, do you take people spearfishing?’
‘spear guns? Yes I have! I have!’
(he shows me two 4ft very home made spear guns)
‘great, can we go?’
(speaks to his mate, who is playing bubble breaker)
‘no it’s illegal; I take you scuba banana boat special price?!’

But maintain it’s legal with no restrictions except marine parks, and i think it’s obscure enough (although locals do it) that it’s far from the cops’ radar.

Anyway it’s not cheap to go with the lovely mr Toron and his friends, who took me out around sanur as I didn’t have all day free (apparently spearfishing on honeymoon = faux pas). It was fun, and much as I extoll the virtues of smaller guns, it was cool to use a six foot long triple banded bazooka.
The gun was attached to a float (bodyboard) and the water warm enough to not wear a wetsuit. We went to about five sites around sanur, never more than about half a mile out, with depths of between 15 and 40 feet.

I barely saw any big fish, anything over about 20cm. Took a couple of shots at the biggest of the small fish and disintegrated them with the rocket launcher, and my guide (mr torons brother) got one small fish. Bit disappointing, but you get used to expensive failed missions in sports like hunting and fishing, and I was only out for about 2 and a half hours.

Just as we were about to go in, we did a drift dive and I made the mistake of taking my own 55cm pneumatic (given the small fish) which wasn’t attached to a bodyboard. A deep shot pinned a fish to a coral, and the gun was stuck. As I tried to dive back down to get it, the current was so strong I could only helplessly see it disappear from view as I drifted away from it. We took a couple more passes at it but only saw it once more and same thing happened; the currents in Bali are really powerful in places, like a fast flowing river.

Sucks! But oh well, lesson learned; attach the gun to the float, especially when its deep or strong currents.

I might have gone back to nusa dua where I saw loads of big unicorn fish not far from the beach, which are good to eat apparently. Although having witnessed the force of the sea here I’d be wary of diving alone, even near the shore.

So I’m not really any wiser about spear fishing here, only that it costs a fortune. I’m really amazed balidives charges 175 US dollars for a day on a traditional fishing boat, when you consider the cost of living here is low (to put it into perspective, the average wage in Bali

Spearguns; pneumatic versus banded

November 14, 2009

There are two main types of spear gun; banded and pneumatic.

Banded guns are between 40-140cm long and are powered by one to four rubber bands (perhaps 10mm tubing). They have the advantage of being cheap (you can still get a great sommap 75cm gun on eBay for £36 last time I checked), and simple to fix (or replace rubbers).

Pneumatic guns use compressed air to fire the spear, and are shorter (40-90?cm). They’re not like air guns that use a spring to compress the air (actually I think they are like the ‘gas spring’ airguns that gamo make), or even like pneumatic air rifles that you fill with a pump or scuba tank. there’s a chamber of air (which is already compressed in the factory) that gets compressed even more when you drive the spear down the barrel, literally backing it into the muzzle. That’s the hard part, they can be really difficult to load. When I first got my Cressi 55cm gun I thought it was faulty because it felt impossible to get the spear in. But it’s just hard, and with practice it became second nature.

People say pneumatics are overcomplicated and give troubling breakdowns, and it’s true that you could probably get a banded gun fixed in a far flung village where it might be harder to fix a pneumatic.

Mine never gave me any problems until it was swallowed yesterday by the Indian ocean.