Night spearfishing has often been steered away from by the majority of spearos, as it comes with a degree of difficulty that might not be for everyone. But before you start coming up with a bunch of different reasons to justify your stand against spearfishing at night, just imagine yourself in a black or camo wetsuit, marching across the shore and into the deep ocean in the dead of the night, with a deadly speargun in hand.
If that doesn’t make you feel like a black ops marine on a covert military mission, then yes, maybe this isn’t for you. However, if the idea of hunting at night tickles your fancy, then you might want to stick around as we’ll be unraveling the mysteries of night spearfishing.
Why Spearfish at Night?
Spearfishing is a completely different environment at night because the majority of marine animals are nocturnal creatures, which turns your whole spearfishing expedition into a treasure hunt since the fish will most likely be hiding. As a result, you have a better chance of spearing your prize with little or no struggle whatsoever. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that your chances of finding the prize are as good.
Another reason why you would want to spearfish at night is simply the self-challenge aspect. After getting a few notches of experience on your belt, you might be looking for a new challenge to take head-on. From the utter difficulty of seeing at night to the pursuit of a shrouded catch, spearfishing at night presents a formidable challenge that a lot of professional spearos would like to tackle.
Put the spearfishing aspect aside for a moment, think of the ocean as downtown Las Vegas. The daytime in Vegas is completely different from the nighttime. Similarly, a night dive in your favorite reef will show you a totally different perspective from that which you already know in the daytime. Not only that, but you’ll be in the midst of even more diverse marine life. Additionally, you might be lucky enough to witness the corals as they show more of their colors.
Equipment You’ll Need
Spearfishing at night can go wrong very quickly, so we’ve taken the time to compile a list of all the bells and whistles that can drastically affect your spearfishing experience. Admittedly, some of the following tools might seem a bit overkill, but you can never be too prepared. Please note that we won’t be covering basic spearfishing gear such as spearguns, masks, snorkels, fins, slings, or poles.
In the deep and dark ocean, the only significant guiding light is going to be that which you create. For that reason, it’s crucial to carry a reliable, waterproof light source along with you. Additionally, you want to pack a back-up light source just in case your primary light happens to malfunction for any reason. Dive lights differ from ordinary flashlights as they tend to have both pressure-proof and waterproof cases and switches. They’re also a lot sturdier and heavier.
Your underwater light sources should have a non-floating construction, meaning that they should be easily weighted to avoid sinking. The reason why non-floating lights are favored by many spear fishermen is that once you set it down to light up your way into the bottom of the ocean, it won’t float away. You don’t want to buy a light source that floats to the surface because you can easily lose it in the presence of surface swell or vigorous wind waves.
There are a number of factors that you should consider when purchasing underwater flashlights, such as battery life, strength, and beam. Click here to take a look at our top recommendations and why we feel these are the best scuba/dive flashlights on the market.
The ocean is vast and compelling. While it’s highly unrecommended during the nighttime, spearos can be tempted to stray further away from their familiar fishing spots and find themselves treading unknown territory. This is why carrying an underwater compass is a simple yet extremely effective way of navigating your way in and out of the water.
Underwater compasses are featured in a variety of mounting options. We highly recommend purchasing a wrist model for convenience. Underwater compasses are usually made from rugged plastic that can withstand a great deal of abuse. Further, the only maintenance that an underwater compass needs at the end of your spearfishing day is a rinse with fresh water.
There are different types of underwater compasses. However, we’re extremely fond of mechanical models. You’ll also find models that are equipped with depth gauges that will help you keep track of how deep you’re surging the ocean. A few models you should highly consider are the Oceanic Wrist Mount Compass, Trident Large Glow in The Dark Dive Compass with Retractor Cable, and the Aqua Lung Suunto SK-8 Compass with Depth Gauge.
Sound Signaling Device
Assuming you’re going spearfishing with a buddy or two of yours on a boat, it’s highly advised to pack a sound signaling device that you can use to notify the boat operator whenever you feel in danger of being swept away by the tides or if your light is not working and you can’t navigate your way to the boat. There’s no specific standard to what the signaling device should be. It can be a whistle or horn that can work off low-pressure air. Check out the Scuba Diving Dive Snorkeling Underwater Safety Whistle with Lanyard and Dive Alert Signaling Device.
Electronic Navigation Device
Looking for an easy way to locate your boat or a specific spot that you have marked out? You’re in need of a dive tracking device. Such devices consist of two components: an electronic signal emitter and an electronic receiver. All you have to do is hang the emitting unit onto the boat by attaching it to the anchor line or such. A switched-on emitting unit will continuously send directional signals to the receiver on your end, leading you exactly to the position of the boat.
The way in which the diver can locate the sending unit is simple. You need to turn the receiving unit on and swing it while moving in a circular motion. Once the receiver is pointing towards the sending unit, the display will indicate the precise distance between you and the sending unit and the direction towards it. Many traditional spearos might frown upon the use of such devices, but in order to reduce the chances of danger while spearfishing at night, you need to take advantage of every available instrument intended to simplify your underwater navigation.
Other electronic navigation devices you can use include electronic compasses and underwater sonar units. An electronic compass is different from a regular magnetic one as it’s capable of doing course calculations automatically. Furthermore, it’s a lot more accurate than a regular mechanical model. Underwater sonar units, on the other hand, are used to calculate distances to large objects such as wrecks and reefs. Sonar units excel in limited visibility.
More advanced navigation devices include the Global Positioning System. When people say that they have a GPS, all they mean is that they have a GPS receiver. GPS receivers interpret signals sent from a series of orbiting satellites and provide exact locations by doing some mathematical calculations based on the received signal. GPS receivers are widely used and are not that expensive as many might think. If you want to take your navigation skills to a whole other level, we recommend taking a navigation course.
Many dive boats are equipped with a LORAN system, which stands for Long Range Navigation system. LORAN has been used for years as it’s very reliable when it comes to providing precise navigational information. It also works similarly to a Global Positioning System, but what makes a GPS system far more superior is that it’s transmitting stations are located in space, rather than the land-based LORAN stations. If you’re planning on using either one of these systems, you need to familiarize yourself with the fathometer, which is basically a depth finder that will help you position your boat on a dive site.
A retractor is a small mechanical reel that’s loaded with a spring. They’re mainly used to attach accessories to a buoyancy compensator. You can use retractors to attach slates, lights, gauges, or any other accessory that you’d like to free your hands off. Retractors are great as they unspool their lines once you pull the accessory away from your body, and they reel the accessory out of your way once you release it. We highly recommend having a retractor to carry your spare dive lights while spearfishing.
The following gear might be geared towards the diving aspect of things, rather than spearfishing. You don’t necessarily have to own that much equipment anyway, but you never really know when you might need them.
A full-face mask is a diving mask that completely seals the diver’s face from the water. This type of masks contains a demand valve or constant gas supply that provides breathing gas to the diver. The full-face mask serves a bunch of different purposes: it allows the diver to see clearly underwater, it provided protection from cold or polluted water and from jellyfish or coral stings, and it enhances breathing security and offers space for wireless communication devices
If you’re planning in diving with a few of your buddies, you might want to consider having wireless means of communication. These electronic devices help capture human speech and transmit it as an electronic signal through the water. These signals are then converted back to sound when other divers hear them. Wireless communication devices integrate perfectly with full-face diving masks and will allow you to communicate with your partners without the need to see them.
A slate is a piece of gear that allows you to take notes and communicate with your spearfishing or diving partner. Slates are particularly used for underwater navigation. You can use a slate to write down compass courses, take notes of hiding spots where fish lurk, and to relocate your favorite dive sites. Flat slates can be attached to buoyancy compensators or stored in one of the pockets in your wetsuit. We highly recommend using round skates as you can easily fit them over your sleeves. To clean a slate, run a rinse of fresh water on it, spray it with an abrasive cleaner, and then rub it with a sponge. You can also use an eraser to clear any slate marks.
Night Spearfishing Tips
No matter where your level of experience is at, there are a number of tips that any spearfishermen can benefit from in the pursuit of a good catch. These tips will also add more safety to your night spearfishing experience.
Remain in Shallow Water
By shallow water, we mean anywhere between 10 to 15 feet. Anything below 20 feet at night is going to be blindingly dark. A general rule of thumb that you can use is that if you can’t see the bottom of the water you’re in, you shouldn’t be there. You can make an exception if the ocean is clear and you’re carrying a tremendously powerful flashlight, but it’s strongly not advised.
Take Notes of Hiding Places
A great way to familiarize yourself with an area is to take notes of all possible locations that fish can use as a hiding spot. Such places are mainly sheltered and secluded locations such as caves, coral cracks, or underneath rocks. You might not always be lucky when you check these places. Nevertheless, keep track of such locations as fish might return to them if their previous hiding spot has been threatened by predatory fish or if they just got scared away in general.
Swim Slowly and Be Attentive
Like we’ve mentioned before, most of marine life are nocturnal creatures, so when scanning the caves and cracks for fish, you want to be moving slowly to avoid spooking your target. Further, when scanning the seafloor for hiding spots, you want to be patient and extremely wary because of the lack of vision at night might easily lead you to miss on a lot of hiding spots.
Search for Underwater Ledges
Underwater ledges are pretty rich with all sorts of marine life and can provide you with lucrative catch at the end of your spearfishing day. However, they’re often very hard to notice from the surface of the water. Taking a deep dive or two while scanning the seafloor can give you a better view of such caves and ledges.
Preparing for a Night Dive
If you’re new to night spearfishing, it’s mostly advised to dive in sites that you’ve been to before during the day so that you can plan your dive accordingly. Being aware of the surrounding terrain of your dive site can prevent a lot of accidents. For example, if you know exactly where certain pinnacles, wrecks, or gorges are located, you’re less likely to swim towards them. Additionally, it’s preferred that you dive from a boat at night because it allows for a much easier entry and exit than shore diving.
Make sure that you go night spearfishing only in calm water. If the weather is harsh, you might be a little disoriented by the darkness, which might escalate quickly into a risky situation. Lastly, you don’t want to go spearfishing or snorkeling at night all by yourself. It’s always good to have some company that can assist you when you need help. So grab a friend and stick together during the whole experience.
Night spearfishing can be a very intimidating experience for both beginner and experienced spearos, but it’s not as scary as you may think. If anything, there’s nothing quite more adrenaline-pumping. We hope that our in-depth guide was able to provide you with all the information you needed for your upcoming night spearfishing adventure.