The Sustainable Huntress
HOW TO GET INTO SPEARFISHING
BY JESSIE CRIPPS
Growing up in Sydney meant that the ocean was never far away; I spent my childhood fishing off the back of my family boat and swimming in the surf at Cronulla beach. When I turned sixteen I got my scuba licence and shortly after found myself interested in freediving and spearfishing. It didn’t take long until I was completely hooked to spearfishing. Bringing home fresh fish to feed my friends and family is such a basic concept but is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.
It’s not just about going out there and shooting fish, It’s a lifestyle that I get to share time and time again with old friends and new. Even on the slow days when you don’t catch anything you can still see some amazing things. I’ve been lucky enough to swim amongst bait balls, Whale sharks, Sunfish, Marlin, Sailfish, Whales, Dolphins and a school of Hammerheads just to name a few.
I've been lucky enough to go to places that I know only a Handful of people will ever go and there's something special about that. When you're spearfishing it's like going back to the basics, it's survival, It's what life is meant to be, what it was before supermarkets and drive throughs.
When spearfishing we get to spend enormous amounts of time on the water, usually from sunrise to sunset. We get to experience some of the most amazing things that most would only ever dream of seeing and if we are lucky enough after all of that we get to go home with fresh fish in the esky to share with our family and friends, fish that has been taken selectively, sustainably and responsibly with no by-catch.
I feel spoilt and extremely lucky to have fallen in love with spearfishing. I can't imagine a life without it and I am always welcoming new divers to the sport. It can be frustrating and intimidating to try and get a start in a male dominated sport but well worth it. One of the most important things in the sport is finding a mentor and a dive buddy who you trust with your life.
How did I get into spearfishing?
I took my dads old speargun down to the shop to get new rubbers but ended up walking out with a new speargun. I started to spear off the local beach without much success; I didn’t have a wetsuit so would wear my bikini and scuba fins and just about freeze to death. About six months later I met my boyfriend Michael who was a keen spearfisherman. Luckily for me he taught me most of what I now know.
If you aren’t lucky enough to know someone who spearfishes then I would recommend joining a local spearfishing club. They are highly regarded as one of the best starting points for the new spearfisher-person. Clubs are an endless source of information when it comes to safety, responsible fishing, fish identification and are a great way to meet like-minded divers. Clubs usually compete in monthly competitions; these are a great opportunity to learn about the local fish species.
Check out the links below to find your local club, head along to one of their meetings and get to know a few of the members. Try and find someone who you get along with and ask them if they would be keen to take you out. If you don’t have everything you need you might be lucky enough that they have some extra gear you can borrow. It can be an expensive sport to get into but once you’ve got the basic kit that’s all you need until you start chasing different fish or at the change of season when you need a thicker/thinner wetsuit. It’s always good to try before you buy so I would highly recommend going to a specialised spearfishing store to buy any of your gear if you have the option.
List of Spearfishing clubs HERE:
I would also recommend completing a freediving or spearfishing course. This will teach you the basics: how to load a gun, how to setup your gear and most importantly, how to dive safely.
One of the hardest things about getting into the sport is getting an experienced diver to take you out, most have their established dive groups and trusted dive buddies but you will eventually find your own. Not only is diving much more fun with a buddy but it may actually save your life. Shallow water black outs if something to be aware of and something you will be trained on if you join up with a club, if serious about the sport please look into completing a freediving course.
You will most likely be invited on a shore dive for your first dive, they can be intimidating so I would recommend a safe area to get in the water and excellent weather (no wind or swell) for your first dive.
If you are lucky enough to get invited out on a boat be sure to help out. Offer a hand launching the boat, help wash it down after the dive and ask how much you own the skipper for fuel money. Follow these basic rules and you are almost guaranteed a spot back on the boat the next dive around.
Below is a basic spearfishing kit I would recommend if you are interested in getting into the sport.
Essential Spearfishing Kit:
- Recreational Fishing License (Contact your local fisheries office HERE)
- Mask & Snorkel
- Gloves / Booties
- Rubber Weight belt & weights
- Knife (Accessible to both hands)
- Fins (Or flippers) Investing in quality long-bladed freediving fins is recommended
- Floatline/Floating Rope
Wishing you the best of luck and remember always dive with a buddy. Please feel free to contact me for any advice or help getting into spearfishing. In the meantime please check out my blog or you can also follow my adventures on Instagram: