1. Firstly, it’s way harder than you imagine.
Naively I had imagined it being a piece of cake. Just drifting around plucking massive tasty fish out of the ocean (well the bigger the fish the easier a target it must be right?) This isn’t really the case though. You don’t actually see very many big fish when you are snorkelling and very rarely in the close distance which you need. This leads me onto my next point…
2. Those fish aren’t as big as they look.
Through snorkelling and diving, I was fully aware of the effect of refraction on underwater vision. (Basically because of the way light travels through water and the air in your mask – stuff looks bigger and closer) What this means in the realities of spear fishing, is that all fish look way better catches than they actually are. The first time I took my gun out I was thinking of this so waited for ages until I saw a giant size Pollock. I shot and hit this monster fish and swam back up to the surface to admire my catch. I held the fish up above the water to get a good look only to realise that this was no monster Pollock, in fact it was so underwhelming that if I had caught this with rod and line id have returned him to his watery home without hesitation.
3. Spearguns don’t shoot that far.
The range on a speargun isn’t anything like I had first imagined. It’s only around the 3metre mark (depending on how much and what sort of gun you go for). This means – you need to get really really close to your prey, which adds to the challenge.
4. You need to be able to dive well and hold your breath.
The proper technique then to get close enough to one of these absolutely massive looking fish, is to dive down to the bottom and sit quietly and patiently on the sea bed or amongst rocks or weed, until a fish comes to you. Now I don’t know about you but after diving down, I haven’t really got much left in my lungs in terms of chilling out on the bottom waiting for fish. So, I’m reckoning to be really good at this you need to have some zen like state of calm and to be able to really relax everything down and make those lungfuls really count. The professional free divers can hold their breathe for ages by getting there underwater yoga groove on and bringing their heart rate etc right down.
5. You look like a murderer.
When I was first purchasing my gear. I thought that I’d look like an awesome cross between James Bond and a real life Action Man. However, what I actually look like is a psychopath. Most beaches in Cornwall are highly populated during the summer months so carrying spearguns, knifes etc around does look a bit dodgy. I recommend using a towel or bag to cover it all up, which should stop you from terrifying children!
(This photo isn’t of me! Unfortunately I don’t have an underwater camera.)