Bluewater Spearfishing Basics
Bluewater spearfishing has its challenges. It is simultaneously the most boring and exciting spearfishing there is. It does require its own collection of equipment as well as techniques.
Bluewater spearfishing is challenging because the fish are elusive. Pelagic species are highly migratory, live in deep water, and are fast predatory fish. In order to target these species you have to have infinite patience while drifting through infinitely deep, blue water. There is a delayed gratification to bluewater spearfishing. Typically, you spend eight to ten hours a day drifting over structure you will never see, hoping your boat driver dropped you on the right drift. If you are lucky you will have a few seconds of excitement just seeing your target species. If you hit the jackpot those seconds of excitement are followed by either a few minutes or several hours of absolute insanity as you attempt to land a fish of a lifetime.
Spearfishing for Bluewater species still requires the basics you need for any freediving. It does require a couple other pieces of equipment specific to hunting these giant pelagic species.
The first difference is a larger speargun. Many pelagic species are wary of predation, and simply won’t get close enough to hunt with shorter spearguns. Bluewater spearguns tend to be both longer and wider. They are larger because they need to compensate for the recoil of additional bands and larger spear shafts. For a more detailed explanation check out this article. The spear shaft used with the Bluewater gun will most likely require a slip-tip to allow the fish to fight without tearing a hole in itself.
Floats and Floatlines
After that, you will need to look into a float and floatline setup. The type of float and floatline will be dependent on both the species as well as your own abilities. Larger fish will need multiple or larger floats as well a bungees to connect them. Smaller or more delicate fish will need smaller floats to prevent too much back pressure causing the slip-tip to pull out. For a more detailed explanation on choosing the right float and floatline check out the linked articles.
Bluewater Spearfishing Rigging and Accessories
Beyond the speargun and floats you have some choices between types of rigging as well as a few accessories that can help you land your fish a bit easier. Most bluewater spearos have adopted a breakaway setup to allow them to keep their speargun with them and to streamline their bluewater setup. For more information on that check out this article.
One of the accessories that comes in handy to bring the fish in on your drifts is a flasher. There are several types of flashers and all of them help. A flasher is some type of shiny object or collection of objects designed to look like bait fish in a ball. Because pelagic species are usually highly opportunistic predatory fish they often come in to check out feeding opportunities. A group of divers may try several flasher rigs within a group using flasher floats set to depth, as well as throw flashers to target specific fish as they come in. Check out this video of our throw flashers doing the job.
An often underrated pice of equipment is the floatline clutch. These large fish often will make multiple runs as you start to pull them in. A floatline clutch helps you keep the progress you have made against your fish.
Bluewater Spearfishing Techniques
Diving as a buddy group is critically important in all diving from a safety perspective. That is never more true than in bluewater spearfishing. Working as a team helps bring in more fish because there are more people to work the flashers and flasher floats as people dive. This is also critical for safety, as bluewater spearfishing supplies its own entanglement hazards. Be ready to help your buddy no mater what happens.
The most common form of bluewater spearfishing is drift diving. Pelagic species tend to be most active in heavy current and anchoring a boat and effectively diving in these conditions are challenging at best. It does take a competent boat driver to put a group of divers up-current of the targeted structure and monitor divers as they do their drift. A real quality boat driver can let divers keep their floats and flatlines in the water without running over the flatlines or getting them tangled in the propellers.
If you are anchored up in an area without too much current you may have the option to chum. A warning about chum; you will encounter several sharks. A combination of sand, menhaden oil, oatmeal flakes, ground or chunked up fish, and glass minnows if you can find them, are a sure way to bring fish up into the water column. It is also a sure way to bring in sharks too.
Learn about the species you are targeting. Research what depths they tend to swim. Determine if moon phase or water temperature impact how the fish act. Try and identify reasons or signals of where the fish may aggregate. If bait is hitting the surface or birds are chasing bait at the surface that may be an indicator of pelagic species chasing bait fish near the surface where divers may be able to reach them. Bluewater spearfishing is a great opportunity to become more familiar with fish behavior through research combined with your own experiences.