Freedive spearfishing seems like a genuinely foolish (and unlikely) endeavor when I’m speaking to people in Austin, Texas about my hobbies. But if you read on, you’ll quickly figure out how I ended up choosing freedive spearfishing.
In the fourth grade I began having the opportunity to really explore outdoors; while “city kids” were playing in arcades, I was wandering around the woods watching the animals. A natural progression of this was hunting, and that soon became a driving force in my life. At about the same time, my parents began taking vacations with the family – usually to some SCUBA diving destination. I wasn’t able to SCUBA dive yet, but I was able to snorkel around. The ocean was far more entertaining underwater, even more-so than the woods I was used to exploring.
Years passed, I “grew up” eventually decided I wanted to choose a good hobby. The criteria – it had to be very challenging, it had to have some real physical risk, it had to be exciting, and it had to encourage me to explore/see things that most other people don’t. This criteria, and an early positive association with the ocean pushed me to choosing freedive spearfishing. Nevermind the fact that I’ve never lived anywhere near the coast.
The Early Days
I struggled finding rides offshore, and the time to take them (weather, offshore spearfishing, and the military schedule didn’t gel). So I started snorkeling and spearfishing on the Port Aransas Jetties. It wasn’t very fruitful, it was really tough, but I was hooked.
Eventually I found a ride, and I really started to put fish in the boat. I hadn’t really thought of that when I chose this hobby – high-quality, fresh food on my table – but that’s now the top reason I freedive spearfish.
I left the military (after a tour in Iraq), which gave my schedule a break and allowed me to focus some time and energy on my hobbies. I took a freediving course (which, if you’re on the fence about – do it), got hooked up with Keith Love (www.texasbluewatersafaris.com) and the fish started getting bigger. Soon I was landing big tuna and wahoo – something I’d salivated over for years.
And then I decided to combine my love of travel, exploring, freediving and spearfishing – by heading to other countries to freedive and spearfish. I visited friends with shrimp farms, met really talented spearfishermen, from other countries and made friends with world champion freedivers. This deepened the addiction.
The next progression: trips to freedive spearfish in very remote areas – Panama, offshore islands in the Gulf of Mexico, and later Venezuela.
And then something funny happened; the traveling, freediving, and spearfishing became very focused. The only species that mattered were billfish. I wanted to spear a Marlin – it seemed like an impossible task (and a controversial one). But I was determined and had the help of someone else, who was equally determined and (most importantly) also had some money to go on a trip to find our Marlin. And find them we did.
This prompted another change – I became even more selective about the fish I took. The freediving and spearfishing became focused around sustainability and filling my freezer. There was a difference in how I approached how many and what type of fish I took too – I only took species that I really wanted to hunt/eat, and only enough to fill my freezer. Other guys would keep diving and stacking fish on the boat – but after I’d filled my coolers/freezer, I’d drive the boat. I only shoot two kinds of fish now – fish to eat, and personal bests (that I can also eat).
So, why freedive spearfishing?
Choosing freedive spearfishing turned out to be a perfect sport – it allows me to explore, it’s immensely challenging, it puts high-quality food on my table, and it’s the most sustainable way to harvest and enjoy fresh fish.