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Night Spearfishing Tips and Techniques

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I got hooked on spearfishing after my first experience. I've learned a lot and have used a variety of spears and techniques.

Spearfishing with a dive light at night.

Spearfishing with a dive light at night.

For the Next-Level Spearfisher

Spearfishing using a Hawaiian sling can be exciting and thrilling; spearfishing at night takes it to a whole new level.

Spearfishing at night is like spearfishing during the day, except it is done using only a flashlight to help one see during the nighttime hours. Fish also act differently at night, with many of them in a sleepy state, usually hiding. Spearfishing at night is not for everyone, but it adds a new level of difficulty and excitement to spearfishing.

Why Spearfish at Night? It’s Like a Treasure Hunt

Many people might have questions about spearfishing at night. The first is, why do it? Well, it adds new dimensions of difficulty; there are several new challenges. First of all, it is very dark and hard to see anything except where your flashlight is pointing. Also, the fish, although sleepy and slow, are hiding, so it turns into a "treasure hunt" rather than just a regular hunt.

There might be some people who wonder if spearfishing at night is unsportsmanlike. But, as I mentioned, it is difficult to see in the dark, and the fish are very good at hiding while they sleep. So night spearfishing is actually much more difficult than spearfishing during the day.

My Experiences

My night spearfishing experiences are fewer than my daytime ones but much more memorable. I want to share two of them here.

On one occasion I was camping with a few friends on a deserted beach on an island off the coast of Okinawa. Once the sun fell below the horizon, we set out, swimming to an area next to some coral rock cliffs.

When you are first getting accustomed to spearfishing at night (or snorkeling for that matter), it is a little nerve-wracking not being able to see everything in your surroundings. So take it slow, and always stay calm. I usually take a few minutes to get accustomed to the water and the low visibility in the darkness.

Anyway, that night my friends and I found several good-sized fish as we searched around the cracks and caves in the coral reef, and even found something we weren’t expecting: in one crack, we found a four-foot eel. After a short battle with this interesting creature, we caught it, and brought our whole catch up to the beach for a nice BBQ of fresh fish and eel.

Another time, my two friends and I went spearfishing in an area near a seawall. We spent a few hours swimming around in the dark, but saw very few fish, and caught nothing. Just because there are fish in a particular location during the day doesn't mean you can find them at night.

What You Need for Spearfishing at Night

The gear you need for spearfishing at night is nothing expensive or hard to get. You need the normal spearfishing gear plus a waterproof flashlight.

Night Spearfishing Gear:

  • Mask, snorkel, and fins
  • Hawaiian sling or pole spear
  • Waterproof flashlight

There are many varieties of waterproof flashlights, also called dive lights, which can be purchased at reasonable prices. Consider looking online for flashlights, or perhaps at a local dive shop. Prices can range from $10 to $100.

Preparing for a night spearfishing adventure

Preparing for a night spearfishing adventure

Tips for Night Spearfishing

Here are a few tips I can offer for anyone interested in night spearfishing. Remember, spearfishing at night is very different from spearfishing during the day, and can be very challenging.

1. Take Your Time and Swim Slowly

Use your dive light to scan around the seafloor and look for not only fish, but also caves and cracks where fish might be hiding. In my other article on spearfishing tips, I mentioned looking for caves and cracks. But when night spearfishing, it is even more important because fish are more likely to be in these places sleeping.

2. Keep Track of Hiding Places

As you swim around an area, take note of possible locations where fish might hide. These include cracks in the coral, caves or any sheltered location. If you check a location and there are no fish there, come back later and check again because fish may have gone back to these locations if scared away from other places.

3. Look for Underwater Ledges

Underwater ledges are a favorite hiding place for fish and can be hard to notice from the surface of the water. So while scanning the seafloor, take a few dives down to get a better view and look for these hidden ledges or caves.

4. Stay in Shallow Water (10–15 Feet)

Unless you have a super-powerful flashlight and the ocean is very clear, the visibility is usually under 20 feet at night. So stay in water where you can see the bottom and spot fish that might be lurking there. Fishing doesn’t do you any good if you can’t see the fish.

Visibility during the daytime can be iffy. Imagine what it turns into at night.

Visibility during the daytime can be iffy. Imagine what it turns into at night.

Safety Precautions

It is always good to have safety in mind, and spearfishing at night does have certain risks involved that should be recognized.

1. Especially for those new to night spearfishing, go to locations where you have been before during the day. In this way, you know the general layout and currents and there won’t be any surprises for you.

2. Only go night spearfishing in calm weather. The darkness can add a little disorientation and if the weather is rough, it could lead to a dangerous situation. So only go out if the ocean is calm.

3. It is always good to go snorkeling or spearfishing with a buddy. When night spearfishing, this is even more important. So find a friend, and always stay together to stay safe and reduce the possibility of mishaps.

I hope this information is helpful and will encourage you to try spearfishing at night, if you haven’t already! Leave any questions or thoughts in the comments section!


Peter V (author) from At the Beach in Florida on August 06, 2012:

Ann1Az2 - Yeah, Spearfishing at night is not for everyone. But it is interesting and exciting! Thanks for your comment!

Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on August 06, 2012:

Very interesting - sounds exciting. I don't believe I'd do it, but, hey, each to his own! Thanks for sharing and voted up.