WHAT WE DO
Few would debate that Alaska fishing tops the list for the greatest fishing in the world.
But, what do all those fishermen do for the months that much of Alaskan waters are frozen or simply unfishable? Some would argue that there is ample opportunity to fish winter kings in the coves of southeast Alaska or ice fishing in the interior, but neither comes close to the summer months which bring a swelling population replete with avid fishermen to nearly every community in Alaska.
Some have found the extreme opposite in fishing adventures and are now enjoying one of the oldest sports in the world: spearfishing the Florida Keys!
Even in the summer, temperatures in Alaska can chill the heartiest of Chechakos, whereas in Florida they brag about surviving “both” days of winter, as they bear the hardship of 50-degree days.
People (fishermen and hunters in particular) come from all over the world to experience fishing in one of the world’s best climates and some of the richest, fishing waters to be found. Many of these men and women are avid sportsmen and find out quickly that the sport of spearfishing is not only exhilarating but more challenging than they imagined.
Considering that spearfishing is a combination of hunting and fishing, snorkeling and diving, all requiring some skill, the actual accomplishment of taking a fish with a spear in the beautiful waters of the Florida Keys is uniquely amazing. Possibly, it is fairer to relate spearfishing to hunting than fishing but it’s allure grabs sportsmen from a wide cut, and the one thing they all agree on is that it is hard to imagine anything better.
So, if you were curious where those thousands and thousands of Alaska bound fishermen went in the winter, you now know that at least some find their way to the warm waters way down south.
There are about as many different flavors of this type of harvest as there are in traditional rod and reel sportfishing. And, it wouldn’t be appropriate if we didn’t mention how great the fishing is overall in Florida. From blue-water pelagics to intercoastal resident fish, Florida has it all.
The gear for spearfishing is easy to come by and serves everyone from brand new beginners and those that only snorkel to the more advanced divers who travel to depths only reachable with air tanks to meet up with quarry such as grouper, snapper and hog fish (a local favorite that is only harvested by spear).
If your in Florida at the right time you may also get in some ‘bug’ fishing. This little bit of heaven is for you lobster lovers who like to catch your own. Melt the butter anyone? Or you could find yourself in some coastal waters filling buckets full of scallops. One piece of advice here is to hire a local to clean them. Totally worth every penny.
Many of Florida’s guests come to get a once in a lifetime picture with a Tarpon or Sail Fish, more and more visitors are finding out what the local’s know that the adventure lies beyond to the the reef where they can select from species too numerous to count and knowing that spearfishing targets game fish with virtually no damage to the environment. Since your down there amongst the fish, you target only what you have designs on eating, unlike other fishing methods which catch whatever bites or swims into the nets. No by-catch here.
Guides such as Damn the Rocks Charters, will take you regardless of experience and make sure your introduction to the sport is full of success and memories leaving you planning your next adventure in your head before you dock for the day. The owners, Chuck and Dallas, are not only experts in spearfishing and boating but have lived in the Keys for a very long time and can show the most experienced adventurer some amazing sights both above and below water.
It’s important to know that underwater hunting can be dangerous and that proper instruction should not be avoided. Not only will it keep you safe but it will increase your likelihood of success.
Hunting fish with spears has been a thing since any recorded history, but we waited until the 1930’s to bring it into our sporting world. Florida is rich with spearfishing tradition and understand we owe a lot to those early pioneers who gave us all a glimpse of the world that waits for us under water. These early arrivers did not have the advantage of today’s equipment like scuba tanks and modern spearguns. They dawned homemade goggles and some sling or pole spear.
The capacity to hold their breath was a characteristic worn proudly and probably has something to do with the popularity of free-diving today. The purists would never dream of scuba diving and make it very known. There is much friendly jousting between free-divers and scuba divers who hunt, but both are seen as worthy of praise.