Divers and sportsmen from all over the world travel to the Florida Keys and Hawks Cay to try spearfishing. The first thing they learn is that this sport is more challenging than one might expect.
Spearfishing is a combination of hunting and fishing. All three sports require skill, good sporting ethics, and more often than not, a knowledgeable guide. The technique for spearfishing is more closely related to game hunting than hook-and-line fishing. Common target species in the Florida Keys include grouper, snapper and hogfish. Spearfishing has virtually no damage to the environment or non-target species.
Florida’s underwater hunting has a long and rich tradition. Underwater sportsmen owe a lot to their forefathers who opened the door to the deep blue. While humans have hunted fish with spears since before recorded history, the first sport divers did not begin venturing beneath the waves until the 1930s. Armed with pole spears and homemade copper goggles, these early Florida spearfishermen stalked their prey without the benefit of SCUBA tanks.
Freedivers tackle a variety of gamefish near shore as well as offshore while holding their breath for several minutes at a time. The sport gained prominence after World War II as manufactured spear guns became available on the market.
Hawks Cay's skilled Florida Keys spearfishing team has been teaching underwater hunting courses and classes in addition to offering guided trips in an extremely safe and sportsmanlike manner for decades. Our professional dive instructors focus on teaching good sportsmanlike behavior, safe hunting practices and preserving our natural environment. It is important for divers to have a solid foundation of dive skills before learning how to spearfish.
Some spearfishermen use SCUBA equipment which reduces risks associated with deep water free-dive spearfishing. In the Florida Keys, underwater hunters can choose whether or not they want to wear a SCUBA tank while spearing some of our tastier species of fish that inhabit the shallow waters of our coral reefs.
The crew at Hawks Cay are happy to educate anyone interested in participating in the underwater hunt, using a variety of equipment and techniques, with the main focus being on safety and protecting our natural habitats. Florida law severely limits spearfishing from shore. Your best opportunity for enjoying the sport is on a public or private spearfishing charter. All charter boats carry fishing and lobstering licenses that cover all passengers onboard. A personal license is not required.
While hook-and-line fishing in the Florida Keys is popular for its goal of ‘filling the fishbox,’ our attitude is geared towards enjoying a beautiful dive on the reef while having the opportunity to select the dinner menu for the evening. Spearfisherman have an advantage over anglers because they can pick and choose what they take, making sure the fish is of legal species and size. An ethical diver always thinks conservation before taking aim.