NSP:067 Pat Swanson Veteran Kiwi Spearo

NSP:067 Pat Swanson Veteran Kiwi Spearo

Interview with Pat Swanson

Should I try diving for a job? I love the water and I think could spend all day in it so why not make it my job? This is a thought Ive had and in this chat with veteran spearo and ex-commercial diver Pat Swanson we dig right into whether its a good idea or not. Pat’s a three time New Zealand spearfishing champion and a resident of Taranaki, New Zealand. This is where I grew up so I was pretty stoked to catch up with Pat in his New Plymouth home. In this interview Pat also lays out some practical tips and ideas for scouting a potential area and we dig into some of the key considerations for assessing its dive-worthiness. Listen into our chat here.

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Pat Swanson Interview Time Stamps

3:00 Pat Swanson introduction and background + Pat’s insights into a dive with Shrek

8:00 Influential Books mentioned

10:00 What were your biggest obstacles starting spearfishing?

12:00 Commercial Diving for Spearos

  • What has been your experience and background commercial diving?
  • What advice would you give to spearos wanting to try commercial diving?
  • What is required of commercial divers?

19:00 Most memorable fish – New Zealand Hapuka

Pat Swanson most memorable spearfishing catch the New Zealand HAPUKA

Pat Swanson with New Zealand’s prized Hapuka

24:00 What is your favorite spearfishing hunting technique and how do you apply it effectively?

30:00 What is one of the toughest situations you’ve had in the ocean? What happened and what did you learn from it?

34:00 Veterans Vault – Reconnaissance 101 for shore dive spearfishing

  • How do you assess an area?
  • What do you look for?
  • What are your biggest tips for finding spearfishing spots?
  1. Shore Dive Spearfishing Guide – Part 1
  2. Shore Dive Spearfishing Guide – Part 2
  3. 3 Online Tools To Find Spearfishing Locations

42:00 What has been your funniest moment spearfishing?

45:00 What spearfishing equipment do you use?

50:00 Spearo Q&A

  • What is the single best piece of advice you have received for spearfishing?
  • What does the spearfishing experience means to you?
  • Who has been the most influential person to you in your spearfishing and why?
  • If you started spearfishing all over again, what would you do differently?
  • During your 30+ years of spearfishing, what is one of the biggest lessons you have learned?
  • What current challenges do you face in your spearfishing and how do you approach them?
Pat Swanson with NZ Snapper record spearfishing catch

Pat Swanson with NZ Snapper record spearfishing catch

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3 free online tools to help you find secret spearfishing spots

3 free online tools to help you find secret spearfishing spots

A Guide to finding your own Secret Spearfishing Spots

by Clancy

 

Introduction – How I learned to find my own spearfishing spots

When I was first starting out spearfishing I hassled anyone I could about where the best spots were. The people I was asking didn’t know anything about spearfishing (let alone secret spearfishing spots), but that didn’t stop them from giving me advice. On one occasion, someone had confidently pointed out a spot on a map that was both in a marine reserve and accessible only by boat. When I arrived I pretty quickly realised I’d been given a bum steer, but with the car full of gear and a hankering for fish for dinner I pulled out my phone and started trawling through google maps to find an alternative. Down a side street and a few kilometers walk later I jumped in at what has become one of my most treasured dive spots. On the first dive there I was blown away by the underwater terrain and the sea life it attracted. It was the first time I’d seen abalone and rock lobster, and although I didn’t have a licence at the time I was super excited.

After getting home and enjoying some barbecued mullet and sharing some tall tales of abalone and lobsters, I realised the internet held some clues about where our, at times elusive, quarry can be found. Since then, I’ve spent many hours trying to figure out where good diving spots might be hidden by taking advantage of these powerful online tools.

This article will include some tips on how to use the three main online tools I use to find secret spearfishing spots. At the moment I’m trying to figure out how to find Yellowtail Kingfish in the Sydney region. I’ll use this as an example of how to use these online tools. This isn’t a definitive guide and if you’ve got any further tips please leave them in the comments below!

 

3 free online tools to help you find secret spearfishing spots

Plenty of amazing spearfishing spots are out there, ready to be found

The three main tools I use to find secret spearfishing spots are

 

Using the Fisheries app

The first tool you will want to pull up is the fisheries app relevant to your state. From this app you’ll get two pieces of information that’ll help you find your next spearfishing spot. First, go to the species page and find what species you are trying to target. It’s important to be focused in your approach here because different fish live in different habitat. Look at the information about the species in the app and try to figure out the kind of area they are likely to live. It’s a good idea at this stage to pool information from a range of sources (forums, blogs, other spearos etc.)  so you have a good idea about where your target species can be found.

In my case looking for Yellowtail Kingfish the app tells me they’re associated with structure. I also know Kingfish are often found in current prone areas. This information can be used to narrow the search down.

3 free online tools to help you find secret spearfishing spots

The three screens of the NSW fishing app that will be of most use to find new spearfishing spots

The next thing you need to check is for areas where spearfishing is prohibited. Go to the map page of the app and take note of where these are. It’s a good idea to continually double check the boundaries as you go through this process to be sure you’re not wasting your time honing in on a spot you’ll never be able to spear at.

Using Navionics

Navionics is a free online web app which also has a paid mobile version. Navionics has a range of tools, but the main one we’ll use is the sonar chart.

  1. To access the sonar chart, click the icon in the bottom left corner and select sonar chart. If it’s greyed out, zoom in on the main map.
  2. You will now see a topographic image of the seafloor, which can be read in the same way as a regular topographic map. If you don’t know how to read a topo map, here’s a quick guide
  3. Find the area you’re interesting in diving and start looking for likely spots. When looking at these maps, you’re trying to find places that have a few attributes. Firstly, you need to find a place that is within your abilities. That means that it has to be in a depth range you’re comfortable diving and accessible with your skills/gear. For example, that 20m reef 3nm offshore is a no go for a boatless newby. Be realistic here!
  4. The next thing you are looking for is the kind of environment that the fish you are hunting will be found. For example, if you’re after Australian Salmon, looking for headlands adjacent to the open ocean. Red morwong are likely to be found on rocky reefs. The earlier research on target species will start to give you an idea on what to look for here.
  5. The final thing I look for is structure. As every fisho knows, fish will congregate around underwater features. These features don’t have to be huge, which means they don’t always show up on the Navionics sonar chart, but you’ll begin to get your eye in to areas they are likely to be (more on this later). Even fish such as flathead, which are often found on a sandy bottom, will tend to be adjacent to reefs, drop offs etc. Besides being a place likely to hold fish, underwater features gives you cover to hide behind and approach fish with. When fish are over a flat bottom, it can be really hard to get close enough to get in a shot.

 

3 free online tools to help you find secret spearfishing spots

For the kingfish example, the right hand arrow looks like a spot that would hold fish, but it’s unrealistic for me to dive there. The left hand arrow on image 1 is looking a lot more promising because of the depth and proximity to shore. But there are a few more things to consider before jumping in the water

 

Using Google maps

Once you’ve found some likely areas to check out, It’s time to open Google Maps and figure out how to get to them. Aside from the obvious and super hand turn-by-turn navigation Google Maps offers, it also has a few extra features that’ll help you get to new spearfishing spots. In the first instance I like to look at the ‘Map’ (default) view. This makes roads, tracks and land zone boundaries more visible. In this view you can see if there is vehicle, walking or boat only access to the spots you’ve scoped out earlier. It’s very important to remember that a line on a map doesn’t always mean that there is a road there, or that you’re allowed to use that road. Make sure you’re not trespassing or breaking other rules!

The next thing to look at is the ‘Earth’ view of google maps, this will show you an aerial photo of the area. I like to have a look to see if there is a convenient entry spot in the water, as cliffs and exposed rock ledges make things tricky. Next, look at the area between the water and the trees/houses. This is usually exposed due to tides and erosion. Often this area will look pretty similar to what the underwater terrain nearby. Again, what you’re looking for depends on what you’re targeting. Because I’m looking for Yellowtail Kingfish I’m looking for rough terrain, drop offs and pinnacles. If you were looking for Lobsters, medium sized boulders would be great terrain. Southern reef fish are often found on the boundary between rocks and sand, so if that’s what you’re targeting, look for that.

3 free online tools to help you find secret spearfishing spots

Looking on the ‘Map’ view might lead you to believe there is access to this spot, but when you flick over to the ‘Earth’ view it’s pretty obvious that short of abseiling there is no access. This happens all the time, I’ll file this spot away for a day I’m on a boat and keep on looking for something I can shore dive.

Finally, you can occasionally see what the underwater terrain look like in Google Maps ‘Earth’. This can verify what you’ve picked out in Navionics, as well as hone in your idea about where those weed edges are.

 

A few general pointers

Don’t forget to pack your sense of humour! In pursuit of secret spearfishing spots I’ve gone down plenty of dead ends, gotten bogged, gotten lost, and put in a heap of effort to get to some mediocre spearfishing spots. But I’ve also found a few gems, and had a heap of fun searching out new places! Don’t think that places that are harder to get to are necessarily any better than ones closer to home. When diving new spots make sure you’re aware of the rules for that region. Finally, consider safety; new spots can hold unknown dangers so be prepared to not get in the water if either the conditions or the spot are unsafe.

3 free online tools to help you find secret spearfishing spots

Put in the hours searching and reap the rewards!

If you enjoyed this article you might enjoy;

If you have any feedback or comments about this article, show some love in the comments below!

NSP:045 Grant Laidlaw Scotland Spearfishing and Pneumatic Spearguns

Spearfishing in Scotland? Pneumatic Spearguns?


Listen and subscribe to the Noob Spearo Podcast on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Podbean

Thats right! Listen into this interview with Grant Laidlaw, a proper kilt wearing, Mcewan’s lager drinking Scottish Spearo

 

In this episode we make a call to Scotland to learn about Scottish spearfishing and hear about Grant Laidlaw’s personal spearfishing journey.  Overcoming different challenges he has faced is a huge theme for the chat.

One highlight of the interview is the story Grant shares about changing from a conventional banded speargun to a pneumatic or air-powered speargun. He was able to walk us through this challenge and how he eventually overcame the learning curve.

Big sections of the interview are like this and follow a useful formula. Generally its challenge, personal story, tips and hard won knowledge and then how you can apply it in your own spearfishing. If your challenge is overcoming cold water, buoyancy, breath hold, hunting, changing spearguns or something like night diving then you will find this interview useful.

Also if you love a broad Scottish accent and listening to spearfishing stories then you’ll thoroughly enjoy this;)

Grant Laidlaw with a Pollock caught spearfishing off a kayak in Scotland

Grant Laidlaw with a wee beastie (Pollock) taken spearfishing off the kayak

Fast Times – Interview Navigation with Grant Laidlaw

3:00 Getting started spearfishing story

6:00 Ebay wetsuits, finding people to go with, freezing water and a host of other issues getting started spearfishing

8:00 Most memorable Fish: Weed line hunting and a big Pollock

10:00 General chat about spearfishing in Scotland. Conditions, species, records and more.

15:00 Lobster hunting in Scotland.

16:00 Spearfishing Hunting Technique: Aspettos. A good tip about weighting correctly for the aspettos technique.

Winter Spearfishing Scotland with Grant Laidlaw

19:00 Night time spearfishing. Benefits and some tips to do it safely.

23:00 Scary Moment. Night Diving and a wee bit ah poo. Bull seal encounter (250kg or 550lb).

31:00 Veterans Vault: Learning about Marine Zones in Scotland and the UK

Grant plays an active part (volunteer) in the management of one of the oldest marine parks in the U.K. Listen into the interview to learn about why and how you might like to get involved in Citizen Science initiatives or your own marine parks.

Learn more about St. Abbs & Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve here. This is where Grant serves as a Trustee and Treasurer. In the link above you can find information on the marine reserve and ranger led activities.

SeaSearch (link here) is a project any UK based divers can get involved in. The main aim is to map out the various types of sea bed found in the near-shore zone around the whole of the Britain and Ireland. Divers are also asked to record what lives in each area and note any problems or issues. This helps them to decide which sites need protection. If you have an interest in being part of a proactive activity to sustain and improve your local fishery and the environment then check it out.

Capturing Our Coast (UK) is a  project where people can log specific marine life sightings and participate in data collection etc. Volunteers receive training and support and are actively involved in the gathering of information for scientists. Learn more here.

The PickUp3 project (more info here)  Pick up 3 Pieces is a really simple idea – just bring 3 pieces of litter back with you every time you visit a beach. Their site has more information but its an easy one to join in on.

Neptune Islands Great White Shark Research Crowdfunding campaign mentioned [learn more here]

the Hobbit! Scotland Spearfishing with Grant Laidlaw

the Hobbit!

Pneumatic Spearguns – Q & A

  • How do they work?
  • What are the main components?
  • What pressure do you charge the speargun to?
  • Biggest challenge was learning to aim (lots of missed fish when he transitioned to pneumatics)
  • Aiming tips and tricks
  • Is there any recoil? Sporasub 1ES
  • How do you load them? What are the other techniques? How long does it take to reload them?
  • Are they noisey when you fire them?
  • How can you minimize the noise? (Dry Barrel kits)
  • Pay attention to the trigger when you purchase a pneumatic
  • Do you lose power when you fire the pneumatic spearguns at depth

This is a really good conversation about spearguns in general and learning to adapt to a different style of speargun.

59:00 Funniest Moments. Night diving in a military area with LED torch’s + scaring the crap out of a bloke line fishing at night.

63:00 Whats in your divebag?

Whats in your divebag? Scotland Spearfishing Equipment With Grant Laidlaw

Grants Spearfishing Equipment for spearfishing in Scotland

  • Pathos full carbon dive fins.
  • Spider 5mm dive socks
  • LAS made to measure wetsuits
  • Omer Zero Mask + Dive Torch (Mini Q LED4xAAA batteries)
  • Beauchat Guardian Float
  • Weightbelt and a harness to spread the weight
  • Dive Watch
  • GoPro 5 Black here
  • Pneumatic Spearguns mentioned

Noob Spearo is stoked to bring this interview to you in partnership with Adreno

Noob Spearo. spearfishing.com.au discount codeFor all your Spearfishing equipment needs go to www.spearfishing.com.au or visit their stores in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.

SAVE $20 on every purchase over $200

Use the code NOOBSPEARO at checkout

Check out Australia’s largest spearfishing range at Adreno Spearfishing Brisbane, Melbourne and Adreno Spearfishing Sydney or shop online


Fast 5 Facts for Noobs

  1. Get your equipment priorities right. Wetsuit matters, spend the money.
  2. Learn to relax, slow down and move slowly.
  3. Get your weighting right for the depths you’re hunting.
  4. Get to know a specific area really well.
  5. Treat your catch very well because its all about the eating quality at the end of the day.

Check out Grant Laidlaws YouTube channel here to see videos of the Scottish Spearfishing experience

GET INVOLVED WITH HELPING SCIENTISTS IN YOUR AREA

– Google Citizen Science and you will find activities in your area to get involved in.

Australia Site here

Here is a live Project in Australia about Oyster Gardening – Bribe Island

Thank you for listening! Please leave an honest podcast review wherever you listen to the show:)

NSP:022 101 Shore Diving

NSP:022 101 Shore Diving

101 Shore Diving, a spearfishing beginners guide


Listen and subscribe to the Noob Spearo Podcast on Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Podbean

If you want to know about how to begin spearfishing from shore then this interview covers the basics such as;

  • The importance of local knowledge and preferably an experienced buddy
  • Clear dive planning particularly around entry and exit points
  • Hunting techniques
  • Rigging your gear up for entering through the surf zone.

In these brand new 101 episodes, Turbo and I will be slowly creating a spearfishing beginners guide that covers of lots of essential information. We thought we would start with a spearfishing beginners guide to shore diving and refer listeners back to a 3 part blog series on shore diving that I wrote with help from many collaborators.

spearfishing beginners guide

Turbo proud as punch, shoredive Spanish Mackerel


 

Noob Spearo is stoked to bring this interview to you in partnership with Adreno

Adreno Spearfishing

www.spearfishing.com.au for Rob Allen equipment and much moreFor all your Spearfishing equipment needs go to www.spearfishing.com.au or visit their stores in Brisbane and Sydney.

Use the code NOOBSPEARO to take advantage of this exclusive special. You get $20 off every purchase over $200, this is a discount code just for listeners of the Noob Spearo Podcast!

Check out Australia’s largest spearfishing range at Adreno Spearfishing Brisbane and Adreno Spearfishing Sydney or shop online


 

The first part of my guide to spearfishing covers off all the stuff you need to plan and prepare for your first dive before you leave home. Part 1 Shore Dive Spearfishing Guide is here

The second part of shore dive spearfishing covers off the dive day from when you arrive and includes last minute weather checks, then all of the things to think about for your first dive. Part 2 Shore Dive Spearfishing Guide is here

3 Mistakes Ive Made Shore Diving is a guest post written by a kiwi spearo called the Armed Snorkeler (great name!). Ryan writes about 3 of the things he got wrong starting out and goes over what he learned. You can check that post out here.

spearfishing begginers guide to shore diving

If you would like to get hold of some of our best interviews, articles and more for learning spearfishing then check out our Beginner Spearfishing Guide here

Three Mistakes I’ve made shore diving

Three Mistakes I’ve made shore diving

Some things I could’ve done better spearfishing from shore

1) The “she’ll be right” attitude.

On one of my first shore dives I was away up in the Coromandel, New Zealand. I had only just gotten into the sport and I was really keen just to get in the water for a dive. On the morning after arriving I was up bright and early and walking down to the beach to head out shore diving. Before I knew it I had shot a nice kingie (Yellowtail Kingfish) and I was being towed round in about three meters of water with fairly heavy surge and rocks close by.

I made a number of mistakes that day, but the biggest one was assuming everything would be “sweet as”.

I failed to check the conditions so I got fairly pummeled swimming out through surf. I also made the mistake of going by myself. I had never dived that area nor had I ever shot a Kingfish so admittedly I screwed up royally there. To top all that off, my gun was only 90cm and my float line was poor quality, too long and attached to a small boy much like you see attached to crayfish pots.

As you can gather it’s probably somewhat of a miracle it didn’t go extremely pear shaped. Nevertheless after nearly getting wrapped, washed onto the rocks and dragged around, I found myself swimming back into shore having landed the Kingfish. I could talk about the potential hazards of all the mistakes I made that day, but the biggest thing I must emphasize is don’t assume “she’ll be right”, spearfishing is not the sport for assuming all will be “sweet”. Be organized.

Yellowtail Kingfish Armed Snorkeler. Shore Diving ninja Ryan

2) Organize your gear before you get near the rock hopping part.

A classic mistake that myself and I’m sure many other newer spearos make is, rock hopping with a fin in each hand, gun under one arm, float under the other, float line being held in a finger then tripping and dropping half your gear everywhere and repeating it all a few times.

Lesson: Organize your gear before you get near the ocean. It makes life easy.

I wrap my line around my gun now, hang the float off it or clip it to my belt, put my mask around my neck so all I’m holding is my gun and fins.

The Armed Snorkeler spearfishing shorediving rig. Note the hard float, great for Shore Diving

The Armed Snorkeler shorediving rig. Note the hard float and wrapped floatline.

 

3) Considering your entry and exit points

The third mistake I’ve made falls again under the “she’ll be right” category. It really comes down to considering entry and exit points.

I ended up scaling a small cliff in all my gear with a mate just to get to a remote spot that was in all honesty, bloody rubbish. The risk vs reward really wasn’t worth it. If we had shot a half decent fish I have no idea how we would’ve gotten back up the cliff, or if someone was to get injured it would have gone really pear shaped.

Lesson: Use common sense, even if you decide to go on a spontaneous dive without much planning (which lets face we all do) use common sense, don’t go scaling stupid cliffs…

This is our cliff entry and exit point, a bit hairy to be sure. Shore Diving spearfishing

This is our cliff entry and exit point, a bit hairy to be sure

 

Second shot of the terrain for our entry and exit from our dive. Shore Diving Spearfishing

Second shot of the terrain for our entry and exit from our dive

Ryan

To Learn More about Shore Dive Spearfishing, check out these articles.

Shore Diving, Part 1. Plan and Prepare

Shore Diving, Part 2. Dive Day

Interested in starting spearfishing – check this out

Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing. Part 2 – the diveday

Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing. Part 2 – the diveday

Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing

Part 2, the Dive Day

Welcome to second part of our Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing. Part 2 is highly geared towards those shore diving through a surf-zone but the points to consider are still applicable to sheltered water diving. Part 2 starts off where Part 1 finished

Shore dive spearfishing is not a lower form of the sport, diving from the beach is challenging and often its not as easy to access species such as pelagics however there is nothing quite like bringing in a good fish or two with nothing but the equipment that you carry to the beach. Its simple and sometimes that’s why we want to go spearfishing, for the simple pleasure of catching, preparing and sharing our catch with family and friends.

 

Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing. Image, Tanc Sade shore dive harvest. Featuring DiveR and MannySub gearFeaturing DiveR and MannySub gear

Image, Tanc Sade shore dive harvest. Featuring DiveR and MannySub gear

Weather and Conditions, final checks

A final check to make sure the weather is good should be done before leaving home. Its a waste of your fuel and time if the weather has changed significantly. Some of the locations I like to shore dive are 90 minutes drive and in the past I have arrived to brown muck and/or large swell. Because I have driven 90 minutes I have often persevered in ridiculous conditions just because I am there. When you are a ‘keen as mustard noob’ often this can lead to diving in dangerous conditions. The sport is addictive but keep your wits about you when deciding whether to dive or not.

Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing. Image Credit, Adreno with a picture of Brisbane and surrounds after a bit of rain. Sludge Viz, lovely

Image Credit, Adreno with a picture of Brisbane and surrounds after a bit of rain. Sludge Viz, lovely

Spearfishing First Timers

If you are heading out for your first time spearfishing and you are buddying up with an experienced person, I recommend not even taking a gun. Just watch and observe what your experienced guide does. Look at the way they enter the water, duck dive and constantly scan the bottom and surrounds for target fish. You will learn more observing for your first session than you will carrying a gun. If you are comfortable in the water and think you are ready for it, your guide may let you take a shot with their speargun.

Turbo and I have both taken guys out like this and find it works well. The Noob’s we have taken out have had a chance to get comfortable in the water while not being burdened with a speargun and float. The apprentice just snorkels along next to you and they can practice duckdiving and breathing up without the added stress that carrying more equipment brings. When you (the experienced diver) thinks that the noob is comfortable and ready to take a turn with the speargun, ensure that they have a good understanding of basic speargun safety before handing it over to them.


Entry and Exit Points

In part 1 of our guide for shore dive spearfishing we talked about finding a spot that had good entry and exit points in your initial planning. If you did not manage to get a local spearo guide to be your buddy, then the next best option is to take a screenshot of the area you are planning to dive from Google maps and take it into your local retailer. Often they can point out things about the area or refer you to someone who can. Marking out key things such as recommended entry and exit points on the screenshot map will help you when you arrive on the day.

Shore Dive Entry and Exits are worth taking the time to plan, Image courtesy of The Armed Snorkeler. Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing

Shore Dive Entry and Exits are worth taking the time to plan, Image courtesy of The Armed Snorkeler #this looks like a good spot, Sailors Grave, New Zealand

Entry Point

Your Chosen Entry Point needs to offer you a clean and expeditious route to where you want to dive. Looking at the swell from right in front of it and observing the wave sets for 5 minutes will give you an idea of where and when its safest to jump in. The place where I regularly shore dive usually has a good swell rolling in, so I get in 500 metres away around a sheltered corner and have a warm up swim before I start. Many locations will have somewhere similar such as a gutter where the run-out current minimizes the swell, or a semi sheltered point to enter. Entering the water is usually the safer part of the dive and if it is difficult to get in, it will probably be worse getting out.

All of your equipment should be well organised, wrapped up if possible and fitted tightly before you enter the surf zone. Once you have cleared the surf zone then you can unravel and start spearfishing. Coatesman has a great post here on shore diving with some great information about securing your float or buoy and line.

[Tweet “#Side Note, When entering the water have your mask on your face, not on your head.”]


Exit Points (plural)

This is the part of the dive to spend time seriously planning. If your mate stabs himself with his dive knife and you need to get out of the water quickly, what is the plan? If you get bad cramp, will you be able to make it to your exit point? It sounds dramatic but these are the potential scenarios to think about when planning your exit points.

Entry points that were good for getting in, can be terrible for getting out due to many factors, prevailing current and swell behavior among them. Therefore you should talk between you and your dive buddy while gearing up, and plan for a few different exit point options. If you are drift diving (planning on diving with the current along a coastline) then you need to have extra contingency plans in case of emergency.

Nothing beats local knowledge, the beauty of becoming a local is the awareness you develop of the area and contingency plans you have for when things dont go well.

[Tweet “Entry and Exit both require good timing, you will develop this with experience”]

 

Final Entry & Exit Tip: Move quickly both entering and exiting the surf zone, spend time observing but when you have picked your time to go – Go for it, you have already made the decision and hesitation will just get you in trouble.
Rogues Kinnear with a sweet Male Bluebar Parrot Fish. Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing

Rogues Kinnear with a sweet Male 8 kg Bluebar Parrot Fish


 

Equipment for shore diving

Equipment for shore diving needs to be robust and simple, especially if you are heading out through surf.
Reds gear after a successful shoredive. Image courtesy Breathless Addiction. Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing

Reds gear after a successful shoredive. Image courtesy Breathless Addiction

Float or Buoy

When choosing your Float or Buoy, generally a rigid or hard float is the best option. Some people recommend using the biggest float available so that it is easily visible (for boats) and can support you if you get tired and want to eat a large meal while resting. While this sounds great and God knows I love a bucket of chicken mid-dive I dont recommend this option for two reasons,

1. Its a pain in the arse getting it out through the surf and

2. Often these larger floats are not hydrodynamic which means when you are swimming a long distance they will sap your energy.

There are two crucial things you should get from your float. It should be capable of giving you a rest if you need it too and two, it should be easily visible for boats, other watercraft and your buddy.

Some people attach a whistle and reflective device to their Buoy for emergencies (this used to be a rule in competitions). Other options such as flares and an EPERB (Electronic Positioning Emergency Radio Beacon) are a great idea if you can afford it and they are practical for the diving you plan to be doing. Make decisions about what you carry according to your type of diving and applying good common sense.

You should also have a fully equipped first aid kit as close as practicable to where you are diving (For $25 I like this one)

 

The Armed Snorkeler shorediving rig. Note the hard float. Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing

The Armed Snorkeler shorediving rig. Note the hard float, simple rope line and the way he has wrapped the line to avoid tangles and make it easy to carry.

Floatlines

Floatlines (aka riglines) also need to be robust. Some people like to use plastic or poly coated float-line, while others opt for simple rope. The high end bungee style floatlines will die a quick death shore-diving so leave these at home next to your Mercedes and pet Lion. Also a long floatline is normally unnecessary and will just cause you to get tangled with the bottom or allow the float to get dragged into the surf-line.

Luke Potts a guest on the show from New Zealand started out shore diving and talks about the 15m (50ft) floatline apprenticeship that many of us do starting out. Since shore diving depths are normally shallow, stick with a shorter line, it will save you hassle.

Reelguns

Reelguns are an option for the more advanced diver however you should still use a float and either. anchor it in the area you are spearfishing or share it between you and your buddy.

Word to the Wise, Remember if you are going to use a reelgun – be prepared to lose it. If you shoot a larger fish such as a White Sea Bass or Jewfish (2 larger inshore species that skilled spearo’s find occasionally) reels can become jammed (its quite common) and you will have to make the choice between the gun or drowning.  Belt reels and optimal reel line setups will minimize the risk of jams however be fully conscious that you might have to let it go of your gun one day so that you can get to the surface and breathe.

Fins

Fins, I wouldnt wear my $600 carbon-fibre fins out shorediving (if I owned a set!), as you can see in this photo (below) a tough pair of fibreglass or plastic blades will do the trick. Shore divers gear always looks like its been used, its the nature of spearfishing from shore.

Tanc Sade has a video he shared with us that illustrates how easy it is to become tangled while spearfishing. He has a pet hate with catch points on gear as his shooting line became entangled with his fins, you can find the video link here on his interview page. Entanglement is a serious and under rated spearfishing risk.

 

Well used Omer Stingray Plastics, a robust set of fins suitable for shore diving. Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing

Well used Omer Stingray Plastics, a robust set of fins suitable for shore diving

Booties wear out quickly shore-diving, I dont have any advice as  I just accept this as part of the cost to spearfishing. If you have a solution put it in the comments!

Red from Breathless Addiction with a solution for ruining booties - Bare Feet. Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing

Red from Breathless Addiction with a solution for ruining booties – Bare Feet

Speargun

The dirtier the water the shorter the gun. For lots of shorediving in Australia gun size is between 900 and 1200 mm, even offshore lots of spearo’s wont use anything longer than a 1400 mm spear gun. Alloy, wood or carbon barrel, its your choice however when making your choice think about how easily the gun will turn from side to side (tracking) and how easily the material can become damaged.

For the people who want to really get good at spearfishing try a pole spear. Its not for me but check out my Pole Spear post here for more information

Wetsuit

Open cell on the outside of the suit for shore diving is not a good idea, these rip easily. Many of the most comfortable suits are fairly delicate, and therefore the compromise between comfort and durability arises. Spending $300+ on a wet suit is common and so if you are starting out shore diving buy a robust suit however the suit should still not be restrictive.
Shore Diving Wet Suit. Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing

Valentine Thomas wearing a good example of a practical no-brand spearfishing suit, Ascension Island

Mask and an effective snorkel

For me the cheap masks work the best. I have tried the expensive low volume and single vision types and keep returning to a reasonably cheap ($40) model. Snorkels are a different issue, avoid purge valve models – they make too much noise and scare the fish. Simple wins with the snorkel but talk to your local retailer about pro’s and con’s with different types. Same with the mask, ordering a cheap one online is not a good bet unless you know the exact model that fits you well.

#In store spearfishing retail outlets are often slightly more expensive than online options. If the retailer looks after you and your mates with good advice, then pay that bit extra and buy from them.

Fish Stringer – Speed Spike

This item is attached to your float and holds your speared fish while you continue to dive. A good mate of mine was towed in reverse at high speed one day by a hungry shark. He was using a stainless steel fish stringer and speed spike. He now uses a speed spike on mono so that in the event of a shark latching onto his attached fish, the mono will give before he gets taken for a ride. Here is what a speed spike stringer looks like.

For spearfishing equipment for shore diving check out Adrenos store here.

Use the code NOOBSPEARO save yourself $20 on all purchases over $200

Noob Spearo. spearfishing.com.au discount code


Shore Dive Spearfishing Species

What species will you target when you start spearfishing and how will you find out the bag and size limits for your local area? At the moment I cant advise you broadly about species however Turbo is working on a global spearfishing species guide which should give the aspiring spearo a broad guide no matter where they live in the world. My best advice would be to drop into your local line or pole fishing store and buy a local fishing guide. Here in Queensland and New South Wales on the East Coast of Australia you can buy great colour guides with size and bag limits information for between $20-$30 – one good guide here. Google is often unreliable for learning local species as many areas have poor information available online. Your local spearfishing club or retail shop can also point you in the right direction. Here is a Bahamas/South Florida fish guide book. If you know of a good guide for your area leave your recommendations in the comments below!

Who says shore diving sucks? Rogues with big Shore Dive Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel. Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing

Who says shore diving sucks? Rogues with a big shore dive Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel. Location, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia


Hunting Techniques and Tips for Rock Hopping

    1. Quietly, quietly, quietly is the way of the Jedi Spearo. Good divers clear their snorkels quietly, duckdive quietly and move silently. Muffling noisy parts on your gear is a dive by dive conscious improvement and will make a difference to the volume of fish that you have an opportunity to shoot. Even if you are targeting fish that are attracted to noise(curiosity), when you make the noise the action should be intentional and not the result of clumsy movement. This is something you will work on for years, when you head out spearfishing with experienced divers watch how they move and adopt the good behaviors you observe to your own diving.
    2. Different fish require different techniques however often on a surf beach the fish are close or under the surfline, one mistake Noobs make is to assume that they have to dive deep to take good species – this is untrue, some of the best fish taken are in less than 5m (15ft) of water. Again stealth is the key whilst maintaining an awareness of the risks inherent in diving in swell. When I started chasing Crayfish in Wellington, New Zealand I often made the mistake of thinking I had to go out as far as I could to find them, the best Cray holes I found in the end were only in 3m of water (30+ Crayfish in certain holes) and very close to shore. Large pelagic species are taken in shallow water also, Giant Trevally are frequently found in the shallows up in Northern Queensland, Jewfish are often taken very shallow here in Southern Queensland, White Sea Bass are apparently taken in relatively shallow water (bucketlist fish for me).
    3. If you are in 6m (20ft) or more of water, heading straight for the bottom and laying there while not moving will sometimes attract fish. They are curious and will come and investigate if you lay on the bottom and stay still for long enough (10 seconds+). Diving through a school of bait or undesirable spearfishing species and laying on the bottom underneath them (without spooking them) seems to make some target species much less wary and they will come in for a look at you. Laying on the bottom is a more advanced technique you start using when you begin to understand your body and its dive reflex. Laying there till you are blue is a shit idea, start with small bottom times and learn to listen to your body while staying conservative – be patient with your diving ability and do a freediving course, the information and self awareness you develop are invaluable.
    4. When finding that awesome little spot or hidey hole when out shore diving you can use landmarks and some alignment tricks to mark and remember that spot for next time. To learn more about this trick visit Coatesman’s blog here for some visual references.
    5. Invest in a copy of 99 Tips To Get Better At Spearfishing. There is a whole chapter on spearfishing hunting techniques!

 

Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing, Pro Tips

#1 Keep a log on each shore diving location with good notes; Seriously this might sound a bit ponderous and boring however this will pay big dividends in the future. Seasonal variations of species, viz and current are often regular and re-creatable scenarios. Here is a list of the type of information you might record,

  1. Date, time
  2. Tide, flood or ebb. High/Low
  3. Wind Speed and Direction
  4. Swell information
  5. Moon phase
  6. Water clarity or visibility
  7. Water temp
  8. Observations about species, benthos, rain in previous days etc

#2 Red from Breathless Addiction in Tauranga, New Zealand

I always try to take the least amount of gear possible, less confusion and stuff to worry about. Also develop the ability to read the conditions so you dont get into any trouble when you are out there and finally dont go so far that you are too tired to return.

Early Shore Dive wins for me. 2 different species of Trevally - relatively easy species to approach. Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing

Early Shore Dive wins for me. Two different species of Trevally – relatively easy species to approach starting out. Queensland


 

Rock Hopping success! Days like the one that filled this Esky are always memorable. Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing

Rock Hopping success! Days like the one that filled this Esky are always memorable

Check out Part 1, Guide to Shore Dive Spearfishing
Part 1 Here

 

For more information check out these links

Also if you need to learn more about the equipment check out these videos

Thank you to the images providers, Top to Bottom

  1. Tanc Sade, shore dive harvest. Featuring DiveR and MannySub gear
  2. Brisbane and surrounds after a bit of rain. Adreno Spearfishing 
  3. Sailors Grave, New Zealand Shore Dive. The Armed Snorkeler
  4. Rogan Kinnear with a sweet Male 8 kg Bluebar Parrot Fish
  5. Shorediving Set Up. The Armed Snorkeler
  6. Omer Stingray Plastics, Authors
  7. Shorediving bare feet. Red from Breathless Addiction
  8. Valentine Thomas Wetsuit, Ascension Island
  9. Rogues with big Shore Dive Narrow Barred Spanish Mackerel
  10. Final Two, Authors pics

My blog posts are a work in progress – if you have a suggestion please share in the comments. I love to improve them where possible.

For some of Noob Spearo’s best guides, tips and information to improve your spearfishing check out this post

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