My first experience of spear fishing was in Fiji, and I took to it like a duck to water, I sometimes had to pay some of the local Fijian dudes some cash to let me borrow their spear guns…I use spear gun in the loosest possible term, the typical Fijian spear gun consists of a 3 foot steel rod sharp at one end and an indentation much like the end of an arrow at the other. The firing mechanism was equally Stone Age; a thick piece of rubber with a thumb loop on one end and a smaller loop on the other into which the end of the spear fitted. The method of firing this was very much like a bow and arrow without the bow and surprisingly efficient. Of course being an enthusiastic amateur I was often out hunting in all types of weather and nailing whatever poor unsuspecting fish crossed my path, I even shot a moray eel through the neck which went berserk and shook off my arrow fairly quickly, I honestly couldn’t work out who was more scared and I made a mental note not to shoot at them again. The other type of spear gun was a proper aluminium spear with 4 sharp prongs at the end and a loop of elastic at the other, you sort of held the shaft, put the elastic loop around your hand and pulled it back holding tight to the shaft, to fire you release your grip when the target is in sight.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later when Clare and I went surfing in Fuerteventura that I got the fever again, looking at some of the spear guns in a fishing shop priced at around 120 euros I looked at Clare with a “mummy…I want one!” look which was met with a “don’t be so ridiculous” frown.
Mallorca was a different story and one in which I triumphed, I take a fishing rod everywhere I go on holiday and even though I had had people inform me that there where no fish in the Mediterranean I was not deterred. As it was they were right, there are no fish in the med, none to be caught on rod and line anyhow.
I managed to pick up a good spear gun for about £32 which I was very happy with, now it was time to see if I still retained any of my skills from foraging in Fiji…as I had suspected it was a bit like riding a bicycle and after a few excursions I had speared a few grey mullet. There were actually a fair few fish around; I did not bother with the smaller fish other than a bit of target practice and learning to reload such a stubborn weapon whilst underwater. This probably being the hardest part of spear fishing you must have fairly tough stomach muscles on which to rest the butt so you can you both hands to pull back the elastic.
Hunting the fish can be quite tiring but altogether thoroughly exciting! Creeping though shallow water brushing aside weeds you may suddenly happen upon a shoal of sizeable fish, everything should be done in slow motion and once you have picked your target make sure to have a slight lead on the fish in the same way you would when shooting pigeons or pheasants. Once you have pulled the trigger and hopefully nailed your fish the spear is attached to a cord, which is tied to the end of the gun, this way your fish though badly wounded is unlikely to escape. I have to admit I did miss a few larger fish but I think that was more due to their unwillingness to come within range…if that will pass as an excuse!
I must urge you to a least try this spectacular sport and even buy a gun yourself if it is not too big it is quite alright to travel by air with as long as it goes in your luggage for the hold. If you don’t feel up to fishing with a rod then spear fishing takes you beyond that and into a new world where you feel part of the life that surrounds you and helps you to understand the fishes habits and even to select the fish you want! Hot weather, clear, warm water and a spear gun can keep you happy all day and even feed you…who said their where no fish in the med?!