Shallow water Spearfishing Techniques
How To Stalk And Hunt A Fish In Shallow Waters
Shallow water spearfishing techniques is technique of fish stalking, known also as crawling technique, is a popular form of hunting that can yield excellent results.
It requires patience and perseverance of a hunter as his attention must be focused on a fairly wide field of vision.
Fish can appear from any direction; from the depth, the surface, from the direction of the open sea, or swim on the surface right next to the rocks, they can be hiding behind rocks or ridges, or can be in holes.
If the hunter is to encounter the fish at this kind of hunting, he needs to engage in silent and calm movement with simultaneous careful observation of the happening in the surroundings.
Despite the careful approach, many fish will nevertheless fearfully swim away, which should not be discouraging. The hunter ultimately decides whether he will aim at all species of fish that are big enough, or he will target one specific species of fish.
Spearfishing in the shallow water offers a better observation of a specific species of fish, provided we are familiar with characteristics of their behaviour.
Crawling technique or stalking in shallow waters. For shallow water technique the hunter is weighted with extra weights to the point where he can still swim on the surface without any effort.
Weighting system should enable the hunter's neutral buoyancy when he is at rest. This is necessary because the fish closer to the shore are more cautious and timid than when they are at a depth.
The shallow water spearfishing technique thus means that the movement depends predominantly on pulling yourself over stones and rocks with a free hand.
In this case, swim fins are used only for steering. With occasional stops, for which an appropriate cover must be chosen, we observe the happening in our field of vision.
With this way of moving, position of the speargun is important as it should always be turned away from the direction of our moving for between 10 to 30 degrees towards the open sea.
When encountered unexpectedly, the fish will always turn in the direction of the open sea- which is toward the gun.
Common mistakes with the spearfishing in the shallow water are:
- when the fish approaches, we suddenly inhale- this alarms the fish
- when the fish approaches, we keep the head on the surface- this alarms the fish
- we carry too many weights- "ra ta ta" sound will be created by the fins striking against the rocks on the bottom- this alarms the fish
- resting on knees may cause the suit to tear on the rocks- this too alarms the fish
The correct techniques takes place in two manners:
1. On the surface- the free hand keeps the contact with the bottom, while the rest of the body floats. When the fish appears, the air inhalation is not necessary, we just quietly and slowly descend toward the bottom. The snorkel should not create any air bubbles at this point.
2.On the bottom- with the free hand we keep the contact with the bottom, while the rest of the body floats. Apnea lasts up to 30 seconds, which enables short rests on the surface (2 to 3 inhalations). With this shallow water spearfishing technique the hunter remains under water for most of the time. Swimming on the surface is used only in those coastal areas where the fish are not expected to be found.
Quiet and cautious movement of the hunter means that, in an open terrain with no cover, he will move a little faster, yet still quietly.
Calm and careful movement before any major irregularities on the sea bottom are recommended. The area that can offer cover for us may already be a shelter to the fish we are stalking.
With years of experience each hunter will acquire good judgement to determine which coastal area provides shelter for a particular species of fish.
Thus you can even expect situations where a fish is no longer a surprise for the hunter, but a well positioned hunter triggers a surprise for the fish!
This kind of hunting becomes very efficient with a combined technique of fish stalking and moving along the bottom, in apnea up to 30 seconds long, but only at depth of 1 to 3 meters.
How is the hunter additionally weighted? In addition to the basic belt with the weights on the hips, also ankle weights are used, the weight of which is somewhere up to 0,5kg per each leg.
An important part of the gear represents a special backpack with weights (weight vest), which is mounted high up on the back.
Each hunter adjusts the kind and quantity of the weighting to his own needs and by doing so he acquires two goals:
- Correct weight distribution facilitates horizontal moving under water (floatation)
- Such weight distribution lightens the area around lower back, as long hours of hunting and incorrect weight distribution produce unpleasant lower back pain.
A great majority of hunters will face anger upon realising that it is the air bubbles from the snorkel right under the surface which regularly alarms the fish.
The bubble sound upon the descent must thus be eliminated. After taking in the first breath, most hunters will place their hand on the snorkel and take it out of the mouth. This spearfishing technique is hardly appropriate as it proved to be unsuccessful in the case of a calm morning sea or in the proximity of a fish.
When we find ourselves in conditions such as completely calm sea, poor cover or unexpected encounter with a larger fish, the following technique with a snorkel is applied:
We calmly breathe in through the snorkel, and slowly open our mouth under water thus allowing the water to silently fill the snorkel from the bottom side up. In a moment or two we can descend under surface in complete silence.
Which hunter-made noise can the fish detect? The fish, of course, do not have ears but they do have a lateral line, which is a highly sensitive organ that senses vibrations in the water.
By shallow water techniques we need to understand that, while swimming calmly, fish silently move through water and can therefore pick up any vibration in their surroundings regardless of the direction from where it is coming.
A connection has been noticed in fish of the same species between their size and sensitivity to vibration produced by a hunter.
We are talking about bubbles, rubbing of the suit, air being blown from the snorkel, vibrations of elastic bands, sudden contact of equipment with the sea bed, contact of a spear gun against a rock and even a hunter's heart beat.
Hunting for white fish, which are found along the coast in early morning hours. Quiet stalking of the fish along the coast is most successful at the time of intensive feeding in the early morning.
Most fish species become active at dawn, while their activeness strongly reduces after 9 a.m.
Sea bass is a predatory fish, feeding most intensely on little fish along the coast. It is known as the king of spear fishing of this kind. The queen throne is taken by the gilthead seabream, which is similarly found in the shallow offshore areas in the early morning hours while feeding on clams, crustaceans, and the like.
Of course, a whole range of other fish species is equally attractive and interesting, depending on the sea in which they are hunted.
It may also happen that we are roaming an ideal fish terrain and yet no fish are in sight. We can also notice a little exaggerated timidity of the fish.
In such cases we need to find ourselves a good hiding place and look for some pebbles to throw some 5 to 10m away from us. The size of the pebbles should depend on the wind and wave motion.
The main point is that the pebbles create curiosity but do not alarm the fish. Some practice and experience will give you an accurate idea to what size of the pebbles to get hold off.
Fish are curious by nature and will respond to other types of attention calling, too. Various sounds from our throat under water are extremely interesting to them, if delivered appropriately.
Also a gentle twang on elastic bands on the spear gun, or gentle tapping will arouse curiosity if it is not too excessive and too frequent. Also in this case apnea of 30 to 40sec in length should suffice.
The length of a speargun for spearfishing in shallow waters. Because of various species and sizes of fish, and the proximity to which these fish approach, the most suitable speargun is 90cm in length.
This speargun has the best power-manoeuvrability relation and has in practice proven to be most widely used. The type of the spear gun and the brand name are not that important.
However, a very important trait of a speargun is its good balance, as this technique of hunting demands easy control of the spear gun.
Otherwise a long-lasting hunting in the shallow waters of fish stalking will cause unpleasant wrist pain, as well as prolong response time of the hunter trying to catch its prey.
Spear fishing with the technique of fish stalking along the coastal area can last up to 4 or 5 hours, sometimes even longer.
If we are hunting with short breaks, using a boat to transfer to new locations, the hunting is not as strenuous as constant swimming itself. The latter can cause serious dehydration of the hunter.
Should you anticipate a prolonged hunting period, the use of a safety buoy is highly recommended.
In some countries this is even obligatory by law. The safety buoy not only marks the position of the "man in sea" and signals our presence to the vessels, but is also very useful when searching for a hunter that has not returned at the agreed hour.
On top of the mentioned, the modern buoy is equipped with pockets, straps and rings. With it comes, along with some spare accessories, also an obligatory plastic bottle for water.
The pockets will also welcome a small plastic box containing dried or candied fruit, which quickly substitutes the used energy and does not weigh down the digestive system of the spear gun hunter.