Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing, Part 1 – how to plan and prepare

Guide for Shore Dive Spearfishing, Part 1 – how to plan and prepare

Guide for Shore dive spearfishing

Part 1, how to plan and prepare

Shore diving or Rock-hopping is diving from shore instead of diving from a boat. It’s how most of us start out spearfishing and shore diving remains something that I love doing, even in Queensland where shore diving is often impractical due to poor inshore visibility, lack of suitable locations and decent weather. This is Part 1 to Guide for Shore Dive SpearfishingIf you have some feedback, suggestions or questions please put them in below.


Fruits of a successful queensland shore dive

Step 1, Find someone to go with. How do I find a spearfishing buddy?

Taking someone Spearfishing is hard work. Most Spearo’s love spearfishing because its often about getting away from the day to day noise and stress. So taking a noob out can be a chore and its not something every Spearo signs up for.

Keeping this in mind, finding someone experienced to go with is still a reasonable proposition. It is more than likely that there are some great Spearo’s in your area who can share their knowledge, time and experience with you.

Turbo proud as punch, shoredive Spanish Mackeral

Turbo proud as punch, shore dive Spanish Mackerel

Here are a few methods to find an experienced spearo.

  1. Your local retailer, by now you might have bought some gear from your local shop and met one or two of their people. Explain your situation to them and ask for help. They might be able to hook you up with a veteran. Tanc Sade, a former guest on the show tells a story about his break through at Obsession Dive in Sydney. They hooked him up with a dive buddy who became his lifelong friend and they are still diving together today. This situation is not uncommon as good retailers are a hub for local spearos who all come in to stock up on essentials occasionally.
  2. Facebook, there are now literally hundreds of quality facebook spearfishing groups where spearos connect, sell gear, talk about the weather and conditions and share news and sometimes look for others to go diving with. #word of caution, try not to discuss spearfishing spots on here. Good spots are something you keep under your hat. Start a conversation by telling them your story and what area you are thinking of spearfishing, then ask guys to private message you if they can give you some pointers.
  3. Spearfishing Forums, again Google is your friend and research is clutch. Your retailer might be able to tell you where local spearos hang out online however often a simple search will yield good results. Once on the forum post a thread about what you are doing and ask for help. Also you could try writing a personal message to the forum moderator or social media group admin, these guys in my experience are often super helpful.
  4. Spearfishing Clubs, last but certainly not least are spearfishing clubs. Many areas have some fantastic clubs where noobs are looked after and earn their way into the club. Simon Trippe and the San Souci Club he is involved with in Sydney are a perfect example of this. Any of the above 3 items can help you find a local club. Listen to Simon in our interview as he talks about a good spearfishing club culture and environment and why you might want to be part of one.
These 4 guys all helped me out with advice and help getting started. Top left, Cuong, John, Bottom left Gav and Trevor

These 4 guys have all helped me out as I started spearfishing. Top left, Cuong, John, Bottom left Gav and Trevor

Step 2, Location, local knowledge. Spearfishing Reconnaissance 101

Location and conditions (step 3 below) are tied together. Again local knowledge and experience is super helpful here. Ask questions in person as much as possible (retailer or clubs again), second best is online forums, facebook and other information available online.

The best locations  if you are just starting out are sheltered waters such as, the sheltered side of a headland or rocky point, the sheltered side of an island or perhaps a harbour or estuary. In Southern Queensland these spots are few and far between however in the Southern half of Australia they have many more options. It depends on what part of the world you live in and the prevailing conditions however even in sheltered waters you can still learn to start shore dive spearfishing before heading out into the open ocean.

Next step is Google Earth and if you are headed offshore the Navionics app is also a great tool. Both of these have mobile and desktop applications that can make spearfishing reconnaissance much more effective.

Spearfishing Google Earth a spearos best friend. Guide for Shore dive spearfishing

Screenshot of some local reef in Queensland. Note the swell and semi-sheltered spots

Google Earth is a shore divers best friend.

Preferably you have thought of or been suggested an area of coastline that is going to be great for spearfishing. Open up Google Earth and zoom into that area of the coast. You will be looking for reef structure initially, then planning entry and exit points(more about this in Part 2 and below) and probably somewhere to park your specialist dive car (pictured is  Hyundai Getz the discerning spearos car of choice).


Google earth is a great preliminary tool for assessing an areas potential for good ground and parking spots. That’s about as far as its effective though, what it fails to do is communicate current, visibility, entry and exit points and how easily the area is swell affected.

Boat traffic and marine protection zones are also something you need to be aware of.

Areas with high boat traffic are no good for spearfishing, boats kill far more spearos than sharks (for more on the risks of freedive spearfishing, check this post out). Using a float and flag is essential however many boat owners are unaware of dive flags and what they mean. When you are diving from a boat a proactive Boatie will get between you and approaching boat traffic to prevent this from happening, while shore diving however we do not have this luxury.

USA and AUS Dive flags

USA Dive flag

images (1)

Australia Dive Flag

Learn about local Marine Protection Zones.

Marine protection zones are everywhere and becoming more and more prevalent. While sometimes it is frustrating having a lack of places to go spearfishing, breaking the rules is a sure-fire way to make enemies with the public, fisheries, other enforcement agencies and the media.

We have seen an explosion on social media in recent times of posts and photos attempting to ‘name and shame’ spearos. Often when this happens it is people new to spearfishing who are not aware of local laws or spearfishing ethics. Only a small percentage of spearos break the law deliberately.

#My Advice for social media; Rather than reposting photos and messages attempting to name and shame, try a different tact – A polite well worded private message from a respected spearo will have far more impact than the alternative. We have all made mistakes and learned things the ‘wrong’ way. Give people the benefit of the doubt and then if you don’t receive an appropriate response – report them to the appropriate authority rather than dragging us all through the mud.

Anyway, I highly recommend talking to someone experienced in the area you are planning to dive especially while conducting your initial research. They will save you time, money and energy however dont rely on being spoonfed, experienced spearos will point you in the right direction, not give you all the answers.

*Check out 3 Free Online Tools To Help You Find Your Next Secret Spearfishing Spot by Clancy Bowman

Step 3, Conditions, Local knowledge.

If you have found that helpful local Spearo or group of Spearo’s then finding out about the local conditions is high priority. Listen attentively as some conditions create high risk variables that you want to avoid such as current, swell, entry and exit problems, seasonal jellyfish issues, boat traffic etc. As you gain experience in an area you will begin to make connections about what works in that particular area and what doesn’t. Water clarity is an issue here is Queensland, we have trouble finding clean water particularly in a Northerly wind, in other areas there are similar unique factors.

Red from Breathless Addiction scoping out a local spot. Guide for Shore dive spearfishing

Red from Breathless Addiction scoping out a local spot

Weather sites and finding reliable marine forecasts is something that you will use forever while you are diving and boating. In Australia we use the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and other weather forecasters such as SeeBreeze and WillyWeather which all base their forecasts on BOM data but often arrive at different conclusions.

Because of this many good boaties will use two different forecasters to make decisions. For example, they will look at BOM then Seebreeze and plan the days diving on the worst of the two forecasts or somewhere between the middle of the two. The closer to the day you want to go diving the more accurate the weather predictions will be. Beyond 3 days marine forecasts are often unreliable.

Mangrove Jack I speared on a Christmas day shoredive

Mangrove Jack I speared on a Christmas day shoredive


All dive sites are affected by wind. Wind affects water visibility, swell behavior and the surface where you need to rest. When wind is combined with swell you can have many different variations that take time and experience diving your local area to understand. Generally for shore diving, wind speeds under 10 knots will be ideal however many people can dive local areas with much greater wind speeds, particularly if there is no swell.

Wind and Swell chart

Wind and Swell chart


Swell affects water visibility but more importantly entry and exit points. If the waves are too large your dive site must have sheltered entry and exit points. Wave action stirs up any sediment and the water will often take a few days to settle down again after large swell.

All of the weather charts take time to learn to understand. Here is a swell chart showing wave size but also the gap between sets

All of the weather charts take time to learn to understand. Here is a swell chart showing wave size but also the gap between sets

Losing equipment and ripping the bum out of your wetsuit can be the least of your worries if you dont have safe entry and exit points, swell must be taken into account. Listen to a bloody funny story about a great shore diving story in Snoeks interview here (about the 33 minute mark). For me personally when I plan on shore diving the Southern Queensland coast, I like under 1 metre of swell. In a recent Spearfishing Downunder Magazine Simon Trippe recommends having a plan B for exit points as sometimes things can change quickly in the water.

Tide charts. Learn the best tide times and heights to dive. Big tides = big currents and sometimes poorer visibility

Tide charts. Learn the best tide times and heights to dive. Big tides = big currents and sometimes poorer visibility


When the tides are at their very top and very bottom the water movement is minimal and visibility will generally be best, this is called slack water. The top of the high tide is most often the best and depending on where you are in the world a 45 minute + dive is possible. Tides have names for their current phases, when the tide is on its way in, it is called ‘flood current’ and on its way out, ‘ebb current’.  In between the top and bottom of tides, currents will be at their strongest.

Tidal currents can be very risky as they can sweep you out to sea or into places you dont want to go. Local advice is king yet again however whenever you do your first dive, generally the best time will be approx 2 hours before the top of the tide (flood current) to get a solid 2-3 hour spearfishing session in.

Shorediving Jewfish and Trevally. Guide for Shore dive spearfishing

Shorediving Jewfish and Trevally.


In Shore Diving Part 2 we cover everything on the actual dive day including entry and exit planning, rigging your gear for a shore dive, species and common shore diving hunting techniques + tips, tricks and advice on making the most of your shore diving adventure.

For further help

Noob Spearo. spearfishing.com.au discount code

Use the code NOOBSPEARO to save on all spearfishing equipment purchases!

For more tips and tricks check out Noob Spearo’s Book 99 Tips To Get Better At Spearfishing here

99 Tips To Get Better At Spearfishing Book. Spearfishing Book

What was your biggest issue learning to spearfish from shore?

NSP:003 Richard Leonard Exceptional Spearfishing Film Maker

NSP:003 Richard Leonard Exceptional Spearfishing Film Maker

Richard Leonard Exceptional Spearfishing Film Maker

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

Richard ‘Snoek’ Leonard is fast becoming a globally renown spearfishing personality, with his vast passion for spearfishing and exceptional spearfishing film’s, ‘Snoek’ is a Spearo on the go. Check out his latest film OneFish Legends feat Dr Terry Maas (USA), Barry Paxman (Australia), Rob Allen (South Africa) and Mohammed Jassim Al-Kuwari (Qatar) in an epic 120 minute+ Spearfishing DVD. Check it out at spearodvd.com or find out more about ‘Snoek’ here at  itz-productions.com. Enjoy this interview and if you want to find out more about better spearfishing film-making find Richard Leonard’s series Behind The Lens at Ultimate Spearfishing Magazine

Richard Leonard Noob Spearo Podcast

Spearfishing Film Maker Richard Leonard with an epic Dogtooth Tuna.

Richard Leonard’s Interview Times Quick-Guide

4:00 Competition diving in South Africa, Snoeks experience while placing in the top 10

10:00 Veterans Vault. Spearfishing Film Making and some In The Zone Productions history. Richard Leonard mentions a series he Authors in Ultimate Spearfishing Magazine called Behind The Lens which teaches spearos and aspiring spearfishing film makers  how to put together an awesome GoPro setup + tips and tricks that make the difference between standard and excellent spearfishing video.

23:00 Frothing Grom Stoke – Never Lose It – Maintaining a great mindset as you gain experience and time in the sport.

[Tweet “Hold onto the Awe factor, its amazing this ocean that God has given us Richard ‘Snoek’ Leonard”]

33:00 The No Stoke story. A story about a guy who lost his stoke, a fin and some skin off his bum. Lessons from a funny shorediving AKA rockhopping trip.

40:00 Fast Five Facts For Noobs

44:00 Hunting Techniques, body position, movement and cultivating an observational hunter mentality.

*******************Join Snoek on Facebook or Youtube****************************************************

The Interviews ‘NO STOKE STORY’ – Turbo and I laughed so hard at Snoek’s story here, enjoy!

Snoek: …we were actually there on a dive/spear/surf trip and he was more of a surfer. So we went out there and we were drifting pretty fast in the current around this point and I looked up at him at No-Stoke, (we actually call him No-Stoke. Because the guy hasn’t got a lot of stoke)..

Shrek: Even his name is funny, I love it.

Snoek: So I looked up at No-Stoke, and he had no stoke. The current was screaming and we’re going around this point and I didn’t know how long this point went for or if there was any exit. And there was no way to swim against the current back around where we had entered because the current was too strong, you know? So again, note to self, make sure when shore diving, to know your entrance and exit points. So having not done that, I didn’t know how long it would take to get to the other side or if there was even an exit point. So there was this flat rock and then there was a steep bank of rocks but they were super jagged sharp, but I figured the flat rock was okay. The problem was the surge was just rushing up and throwing on top of this rock and then pulling away. So if you timed it just right, you could wash up onto the rock, do the gecko, hold on for dear life, the swell would wash away, jump up quickly, grab your gear, pull off your fins, bolt along the rock, and jump up onto this bank and hang on for dear life. So this was our brainwave, the plan to escape imminent death at sea. Now No-Stoke, again, like I said-

Shrek: {Heavy Laughter} Oh I love his name! Snoek and No-Stoke, just awesome.

Snoek: So have you seen the big eyes? Have you ever seen a guy making the big eyes?

Big Eyes


Shrek: Oh yeah, yeah I know what you’re talking about.

Snoek: Well No-Stoke had no stoke and big eyes. This whole situation was deteriorating fast. So now I go for it, I do the first rush, boom, nail it, obviously having shore dived for many years there is always these kinds of situations. I did the gecko, got the landing perfectly, held on, sucked away, ripped my fins off, boom. Made it. So now I’m parking on the bank. And now I look out and No-Stoke is just not operating. So now I’m like, ugh, man, so I decide I’m going to get my fins back on and help out No-Stoke. So I get the fins back on, wait for the surge to go away, rush onto the rock, dive into the water and now I’m back out there again. In this surging swell that’s rushing up towards the rocks. So now I’ve got to tell No-Stoke when to go so we wait for the moment, and go. He goes, but just didn’t land the gecko. {Heavy Laughter – Shrek and Turbo again}

Shrek: Oh no, No-Stoke had no gecko.

Snoek: No, just total a total fail on the gecko. So he landed on his ass and he starts bumping along, and as he’s bumping you just hear him going ah! Ah! Ah! Which was quite feminine. So he’s bumping along and he slides back off the side of this ledge, boom, back into the ocean. So I’m like, ugh, this isn’t going down too well. And then, to top it off, what’s even worse, I look at his fins, he’s using my dad’s fins and one fin is gone. Now, No-Stoke, big eyes, and one fin. The situation is just not happening.

Eventually I get behind him, push him flat on his stomach, he lands the gecko, runs up and No-stoke’s fine. I landed and now I’m like, okay, I’ve got to tell my dad about this fin and anyway, No-Stoke’s alive, and that’s fine. So we hung on and made it, happy days, we all survived. No-Stoke’s soaked a bit, but anyway it’s fine, we got through it, we got through the friendship trauma. Next morning we’re like, let’s leave the diving today, let’s go surfing. So we’re out surfing, and I just see this shoal of something smashing the surface and they keep rushing in the surfline and rushing past us and I’m like no, dude, we have to go get our gear, this is ridiculous. Eventually he buckles and I said to him, look I’ve found the exit point, we’ll be fine, you have to come with me. So we borrowed some fins for him, we head out into the ocean and I didn’t know that spot really well so we’re swimming on sand, there’s nothing, and I’m zig-zagging trying to find a reef, and I’m zig-zagging all over the ocean, different depths and I see this black object, I must have swum out to about 15 meters. So I see this black object floating in the distance, I’m like what is that thing.

Shrek: It was your dad’s fin.

Snoek: I swum out to it. It’s my fin. I find my fin. Absolutely crazy. So that’s the story of No-Stoke and the fin.

Shrek: What are we going to call it, No-Stoke, one fin? That’s brilliant, I love it.

As you go through the difficult times spearfishing these kinds of stories are always the ones that stick out. Like Snoek mentioned – pay attention and plan your entry and exit points as best you can. If you have just headed out anyway, do not panic. Hopefully all you end up with is a bruised ego!


Rich Filming Action. richard leonard

Richard Leonard capturing the action, helping to tell spearfishing stories to the world.

If you enjoyed this interview and would like to learn more about using GoPros for spearfishing then check out this interview with Aaron Chasse.

If you would like to learn more about Underwater Photography listen into Jessie Cripps and Michael Takach here or if you heard the No Stoke story maybe a Guide To Shore Dive Spearfishing is more up you alley.

Let us know what you thought about the No Stoke story in the comments! Thanks for listening