Spearfishing is a growing sport in the UK that has become increasingly popular due to its focus on sustainable fishing and eating. Spearfishing involves using a specially designed spear gun to hunt fish in the water. It is an exciting and challenging activity that requires skill, patience, and a deep appreciation for the environment.
Spearfishing is an ethical and sustainable way to fish. Unlike traditional fishing methods, spearfishing does not harm the ecosystem or marine life. Spearfishing also promotes healthy eating, as it allows people to catch and consume fresh, wild-caught fish without any harmful additives or chemicals. Spearfishing is also a low-impact activity that does not contribute to overfishing, making it an excellent option for those looking to enjoy seafood while also preserving the environment.
In the UK, spearfishing has gained popularity in recent years due to the growing interest in sustainable living and ethical consumption. The British public is becoming increasingly aware of the impact of overfishing and the need to protect marine ecosystems. As a result, people are turning to alternative fishing methods, such as spearfishing, to catch their own fish and reduce their carbon footprint.
To get started in spearfishing, it is advisable to first obtain the proper training. Going on a course with a reputable course provider is a great way to get started. A good course will teach you how to spearfish and cover everything from the basics of spearfishing to advanced techniques, safety, and best practices for sustainable fishing.
Once you have completed your training, you will need to invest in the right equipment. This includes a wetsuit, mask, fins, weight belt, and, of course, a spear gun.
Spearfishing wetsuits are different from regular diving wetsuits in several ways, but one of the most significant differences is buoyancy. In spearfishing, maintaining neutral buoyancy is crucial for a successful dive, and the type of wetsuit worn can impact a diver’s buoyancy.
Spearfishing wetsuits are typically designed to provide less buoyancy than regular diving wetsuits. This is because spearos need to be able to dive deeper and stay underwater for longer periods without being hindered by excessive buoyancy. The wetsuits are made from thinner neoprene than regular wetsuits and are often open-cell or lined with smoothskin neoprene. The thinner neoprene reduces the suit’s buoyancy, making it easier for the diver to achieve neutral buoyancy.
In addition to reducing buoyancy, spearfishing wetsuits are also designed to be more flexible than regular diving wetsuits – they often come in two pieces, which has the additional benefit of allowing the spearo to stay in the water for longer. Further, you’ll always be recommended to get a decent fit for your wetsuit to minimise water movement inside the wetsuit, reducing drag and making it easier to swim through the water. Some spearo wetsuits also have camo but there is some debate on how useful this really is.
Overall, spearfishing wetsuits are designed with the specific needs of spearos in mind, providing less buoyancy, greater flexibility and warmth than regular diving wetsuits. This allows spearos to stay underwater for longer periods and maneuver more easily, making it easier to hunt fish and enjoy the underwater environment.
There are several types of spearguns available on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are the most common types of spearguns:
- Pneumatic Spearguns: Pneumatic spearguns are powered by compressed air and are popular due to their accuracy, power, and ease of use. These guns are low-maintenance and have minimal recoil, making them suitable for beginners. They can be more expensive than other types of spearguns.
- Band Spearguns: Band spearguns, also known as slingshot spearguns, are powered by elastic bands or rubber tubing. These guns are simple and affordable, making them popular with beginners. They are also lightweight and easy to maneuver, but may require more maintenance than other types of spearguns. A spearfishing shop will often rig up these guns for you for a small fee. Those who struggle with the loading may like to try a load assist.
- Rail Spearguns: Rail spearguns are designed to reduce recoil and improve accuracy. They use a rail or track system to guide the spear, which reduces drag and allows for smoother shots. These guns are suitable for both beginners and experienced spearos and can be used in a variety of conditions.
- Wood Spearguns: Wood spearguns are popular due to their traditional design and natural feel. They are typically made from teak, mahogany, or other hardwoods, and can be highly customised to fit a diver’s needs. These guns require more maintenance than other types of spearguns but are highly prized by many spearos.
Conclusively, there are several types of spearguns available on the market, including pneumatic, band, rail, wood, and hybrid guns. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of gun will depend on a diver’s experience level, diving conditions, and personal preferences. It is important to choose a speargun that is appropriate for your skill level and the conditions (and location!) where you will be diving.
Rules and regulations
There are some places in the UK where spearfishing is not allowed, or where restrictions apply.
For example, spearfishing is also prohibited in certain areas designated as marine protected areas or nature reserves, where fishing of any kind is not allowed.
There are catch limits in relation to some fish too – for example, Bass, Lobster, Cod, Plaice and Scallops.
It is important for spearos to research local laws and regulations before spearfishing in a particular area, as these regulations can vary depending on the location. Spearos should also be aware of any restrictions on species or catch limits, as well as any seasonal closures, to ensure that they are fishing sustainably and legally.
Some areas may also have restrictions on the use of certain types of spearguns or equipment, so it is important to check local regulations before diving. It is the responsibility of the spearo to follow these regulations and ensure that they are fishing responsibly and sustainably, to help protect the marine environment and ensure that the sport remains enjoyable for everyone.
Diving with a buddy
When spearfishing, it is crucial to always prioritise safety. Spearfishing with a buddy is essential for safety and several reasons.
Firstly, having a buddy ensures that you have someone to assist you in case you run into trouble in the water. Spearfishing can be physically demanding, and it’s not uncommon for divers to experience exhaustion, cramps, or other physical issues while diving. If you are diving alone, there is no one to assist you in the event of an emergency, which can be extremely dangerous. With a buddy, you can watch out for each other, monitor each other’s health and safety, and assist each other if necessary.
Secondly, spearfishing with a buddy increases the chances of spotting any potential hazards such as boats or sharks. If one person is focused on spearfishing, they may not be aware of other hazards in the water. Having a buddy ensures that you have an extra set of eyes to watch out for potential dangers and to alert you to any potential hazards.
Finally, spearfishing with a buddy is essential in case of shallow water blackout. Shallow water blackout occurs when a diver loses consciousness due to a lack of oxygen while ascending from a dive. This can happen suddenly and without warning, making it very dangerous for solo divers. With a buddy, there is always someone nearby to help you in the event of a shallow water blackout or any other emergency.
In conclusion, spearfishing with a buddy is crucial for safety reasons. Having a buddy ensures that you have someone to assist you in the event of an emergency, increases the chances of spotting potential hazards, and provides an extra level of safety in case of shallow water blackout or other emergencies. Always remember to dive with a buddy and prioritise safety when spearfishing.
Popular spots for spearfishing
There are many popular spots to spearfish in the UK, but some of the most popular are located in the southern part of the country where the water is warmer. Here are some of the top spots:
- The South West coast: The South West coast of England is a popular spot for spearfishing due to its warmer waters and abundance of marine life. The coast is dotted with reefs, wrecks, and underwater structures that make for excellent spearfishing locations. The area is also home to a variety of fish species, including bass, wrasse, and mullet.
- The Isle of Wight: The Isle of Wight is a small island located off the southern coast of England. It is a popular spot for spearfishing due to its clear waters and abundance of fish. The island is home to a variety of fish species, including cod, bass, and sea bream.
- The Channel Islands: The Channel Islands, located off the southern coast of England, are a popular destination for spearfishing. The islands are known for their clear waters and rich marine life, which includes a variety of fish species such as bass, wrasse, and bream.
- Cornwall: Cornwall is a popular spot for spearfishing due to its rugged coastline and abundance of marine life. The area is home to a variety of fish species, including bass, mullet, and wrasse. The water can be colder than other southern areas of the UK, but it is still popular due to its abundance of marine life. You can see the sea temps here.
But you can find spearfishing from the top to the bottom of the UK – even in Scotland where you might think it a little too chilly! In reality, you can buy a thicker wetsuit to compensate for the colder waters.
In conclusion, the southern part of the UK is a popular spot for spearfishing due to its warmer waters and abundance of marine life. The South West coast, the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands, and Cornwall are just a few of the top spots for spearfishing in the UK. These locations offer excellent opportunities to catch a variety of fish species and enjoy the beauty of the UK’s coastal waters.
Types of spearfishing
Shore Diving: Shore diving involves spearfishing from the shore, without the use of a boat. The spearo typically enters the water from a beach, rocky shoreline or pier, and swims out to the hunting grounds. This type of spearfishing is popular because it is accessible, inexpensive, and can be done in a variety of locations.
Boat Diving: Boat diving involves spearfishing from a boat, which is used to transport the spearfishers to the hunting grounds. The boat is usually anchored near the hunting grounds, and the spearfishers enter the water from the boat. Boat diving can allow access to more remote locations, deeper waters, and larger game fish, but it requires access to a boat and additional expenses.
Pole spear fishing: This method involves using a long spear or pole with a point at one end and an elastic loop at the other end for propulsion. The spearfisher can use this tool to catch fish from land, shallow water, or a boat without the need for diving equipment. Pole spear fishing is a popular method for targeting smaller fish, and is often used in shallower waters where diving may not be necessary or possible. It requires a high level of skill, as the fish must be approached and caught within arm’s reach. Pole spear fishing is often seen as a more challenging and intimate way of hunting fish, as it requires more direct contact with the prey.
Blue Water Hunting: You’re not going to get this in the UK but it’s worth a mention! Blue water hunting is a type of spearfishing that involves hunting fish in open ocean waters, far from any visible structure or landmarks. Spearos using this technique typically dive into deep water and wait for fish to approach. This type of hunting requires a high level of skill, as it can be challenging to find fish in the vast expanse of the open ocean. Blue water hunting is often done from a boat, and can offer the opportunity to hunt larger game fish.
Foraging: Along the UK coastline, there is a wide range of edible marine life that can be found by foraging, including:
- Shellfish: Mussels, cockles, oysters, and scallops are all commonly found in rocky intertidal areas.
- Crustaceans: Crabs and lobsters can often be found in rocky areas or hiding in crevices.
- Seaweed: A variety of seaweed species are edible and can be found growing in intertidal areas or attached to rocks.
- Fish: Some species of fish, such as sea bass and flounder, can be caught using hand-held spears or fishing rods.
- Invertebrates: Sea urchins and starfish are also commonly found in rocky intertidal areas and can be eaten.
There are a few tools you can use to make foraging easier! It’s important to note that foraging for wild food carries risks, and it’s essential to know what you’re looking for, as some species can be poisonous or have other risks associated with them. It’s always recommended to seek expert guidance or attend a foraging course before attempting to forage for wild food. Going out with a guide is a great way to start this aspect of spearfishing.
Whether you’re just starting out in spearfishing or you’re an experienced spearo looking for new experiences, spearfishing charters are a good option to consider.
A spearfishing charter is a guided trip that takes a group of spearos (and spearas!) out on a boat to a specific location to hunt fish using spearguns. These charters are typically led by experienced spearos who are familiar with the local waters and can provide advice and guidance on the best techniques for hunting fish.
Spearfishing charters may provide all necessary equipment, including spearguns, wetsuits, fins, and masks, or may require participants to bring their own gear. Some charters may also offer training or instruction on speargun use and safety, making them a good choice for beginner spearos who want to learn more about the sport.
During the charter, the boat will typically travel to different locations to find the best fishing spots, based on factors like weather, tides, and water conditions. The guide will then provide advice on how to approach the fish and how to use the speargun effectively to make a successful catch.
Spearfishing charters can be a great way to experience spearfishing in a new location or to learn more about the sport in a supportive and guided environment. They can also be a good way to meet other spearos and to share tips and advice on hunting fish using spearguns.
A company currently running charters is spearfishing-charters.com which also runs trips internationally.
Spearfishing is an exciting and rewarding sport that has gained popularity in the UK due to its focus on sustainable fishing and eating. To get started, it is important to obtain proper training and invest in the right equipment. Always prioritise safety and sustainable fishing practices when spearfishing to ensure a positive and enjoyable experience for all.