Hawaii spearfishing is as good as it gets with spearfishing conditions ranging from shallow reef waters to open ocean areas and fish aplenty!
Today's spearfishermen (and women) have pushed their sport to limits unimaginable not too long ago! Interestingly, while scuba diving has remained relatively popular, free-diving has become the preferred venue for Hawaii spearfishing for the greater number of Hawaii divers.
Spearfishing equipment can range from the simple Hawaiian sling, or three-prong as they're more commonly referred (a spear with a rubber at the end), to the most sophisticated spearguns resembling long rifles powered by one to four rubbers. But whichever way you go, it's all fun!
My brother-in-law, James Kawasaki (right), and friend, Ray Fukada, display two black ulua they speared in the waters off the Big Island's Kohala coast using custom wooden spearguns they constructed on their own.
Today, the most popular Hawaii spearfishing involves free-diving with weights, over-sized fins, and wetsuits enabling the divers to go to depths of sixty to over a hundred feet.
The weights enable the diver to descend rapidly without having to waste energy by kicking against his own bouyancy while the large fins offer good propulsion while allowing the diver to kick much more slowly.
Despite the warmth of Hawaii's waters, the use of wetsuits has become standard equipment even for Hawaii spearfishing due to the lower temperatures of the depths into which they now descend and the duration of their dives. And, besides, it's nice to have a protective skin when you're wrestling with a fish that's close to your size!
Of course, it's not just equipment as one has to be able to hold his/her breath long enough to spend that kind of time underwater.
James Kawasaki surfaces with a mahimahi speared in very deep waters off the Big Island which they access on jet skis.
The improvement in gear and ability of today's skin divers have brought them to pursue their trophies in blue water where in the past were only fished by trolling or bottom fishing from boats! Pelagic fish like ahi (tuna), mahimahi, ono, and even sailfish and marlin are now included in the targets these blue-water hunters are now pursuing.
Graphic Nature Hawaii includes deep sea art created by James Kawasaki with awesome results! Check out his art!
For Gyotaku artist, Naoki Hayashi, the challenge is not in how far one can shoot a fish but rather how close he can get before releasing his spear. To accomplish this, he often mimics fish and stages situations to attract the attention and pique the curiosity of the fish he's pursuing. Using dead fish held close to his body, he'll often pretend he's a decaying fish to attract hungry predators like ono, mahi, and others that are roaming near the surface. For bottom feeders, he might throw sand and pretend he's scavenging the bottom, an action which quickly brings fish right to him as they see the agitated sand.
Gyotaku Artist/Diver, Naoki Hayashi, pursues big game in Hawaii's warm offshore waters and balances his in-water time by producing Hawaii's best known gyotaku pieces.
Here's an account by Lewis & Clark student, Marcus Chun, on spearing his first ulua! Since he'll be returning to Hawaii for good after one more semester, there'll probably be much more fish coming on this page.
Beautiful fish, Marcus, and thanks for sharing the experience and for the great tip!!
"This Omilu Ulua is 12 pounds and it was speared in Kahuku on 6-25-05. It is the biggest fish that I have ever speared. I was holding my breath and hiding in a sand pocket in the reef at a depth of 15 feet.
I was grabbing sand and throwing it up in front of my face to mimic feeding fish, which is a technique that works to lure in many curious reef fish closer to you. I tried to hide my body as well as I could and not make any unnecessary movements which could spook the fish. Lying as still as you can also conserves your precious oxygen supply.
I was waiting for a school of uhu (parrot fish) to come closer, and all of a sudden this ulua appeared from my right. I lifted my 100 cm gun and aimed for the eye. The spear penetrated just below the eye. It was a solid shot so the ulua did not fight as fiercely as I thought it would. I was ecstatic to finally land an ulua after years of trying.
That is the beauty of diving. You never know what you will see below the surface."
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