Sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time. Take the guy, who is spearfishing on the dock at Dana Point Harbor near San Diego and sees a yellowfin tuna swim by. It appears that the tuna is swimming close to the surface, making it a fairly easy catch. Of course, this wouldn’t be that remarkable if the guy had speared a fish that’s common to this area, but yellowfins rarely venture this far from the warm waters of the Baja current. What this means is that the water in the area is unusually warm, which likely means that the effects of the next El Nino will be even more dramatic.
About the Yellowfin Tuna Fish
As mentioned, yellowfin tuna are not fans of cold water at all. They thrive in water temperatures above 74 degrees, and you will rarely be able to catch one in waters below 70 degrees. In the Pacific, yellowfins are found from the coast of Southern California all the way down to Chile. Typically, yellowfish tuna are caught using a jig and live anchovies. While there have been some caught that were over 200 pounds, most are anywhere from 30 to 50 pounds, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. They are characterized by their conical heads and cigar-shaped bodies.
Dana Point Harbor
Although rare to find so close to land, yellowfin tuna are fairly common once you get further out past Dana Point Harbor and closer to the warm current. Spearfishing is popular in the area as is scuba diving, whale watching, and, of course, regular fishing. In addition to tuna, people also go after halibut, yellowtail, and white seabass here with their modern spearfishing equipment. (More on that shortly.)
The History of Traditional Spearfishing
Spearfishing is almost as old as man himself, as ancient people simply used sharpened sticks to catch their prey. Barbed poles would come about later in paleolithic times. 16,000-year-old cave drawings depict a person using one of these harpoons with a detachable head to spear seals. Another variation of the ancient spear is the trident, which you know from your Greek mythology is a 3-headed spear attached to a long pole. All these inventions were effective in their day and still are to some degree, especially if you are ever stranded on a desert island and have to improvise to stay alive!
Modern Day Spearfishing
So if you’re a purist and want a challenge, you should stick with the ancient methods if you want to do some spearfishing. However, modern spearfishing equipment will give you much better odds. Using a speargun, you can fish from the shore like this guy, but the more popular method nowadays is underwater spearfishing with the aid of scuba gear. While using a speargun either under water or on the surface is a popular method, you can use a polespear or Hawaiian sling instead. Here are some key differences between the 3:
- Speargun – There are 2 types of spearguns, band powered and pneumatic. The pnuematic gun uses air pressure to shoot the spear out of the gun. The band-powered gun, on the other hand, isn’t noisy like the speargun because it uses rubber bands instead of air to push the spear forward. It is a popular choice because of its silence, power, and accuracy.
- Polespear – The polespear consists of a long pole with a rubber loop (or sling) attached to a spear. Pulling back on the rubber band while holding the spear creates tension to propel the spear forward.
- Hawaiian Sling – Similar to how a bow and arrow works, the Hawaiin sling consists of a block of material with looping attached. The material has a hole drilled in it, which is where the shaft is placed to be pulled back to create tension.
Laws and Regulations of Florida Spearfishing
If reading this makes you want to get out on the water and do some spearfishing, you will need to be careful because there are laws about which fish you can hunt and where you can do it. For example, all freshwater spearfishing is outlawed in Florida. Just make sure to find out about the laws from the local department of fish and wildlife.
If I didn’t know that it’s so rare for tuna to swim so far inland, I wouldn’t have found this nearly as interesting. Underwater spearfishing just seems a lot more fun and challenging. What do you think?