Winter Spearfishing. Is it really a thing here in the UK? The days are shorter and the mornings are colder. Winter is here, and as it brings with it the colder weather, it also drives most of the fish out into deeper and warmer waters. As well as this, Spearfishing in the UK in general takes a hit during the Winter months due to the ‘Catch and Release’ instruction on recreational Bass fishing (01 December – 29 February). The guidance on Bass fishing for December 2020, January and February 2021 appears to be the same as for the previous year (2019 – 2020).
So, for those Spearos who have just gotten a bucket load of new Spearfishing goodies for Christmas and are eager to get in the water and test it all out – they may be asking themselves, is there any point yet? Should you just wait until the Spring when the Bream come in to kick off the season? Well, that’s not for me to say, but what I can do is give you some ideas of you could do if you make the decision to brave the cold and get in the water.
Perfect Your Technique:
Diving from the shore in the Winter months isn’t going to provide the best results in terms of catch. That’s not to say you won’t stumble into some fish, that’s entirely possible! But you’re chances are just inevitably slimmer in the Winter. So, what can you do when the chances of finding fish are low. Practise Diving. Practise your Duck Dive Technique (see our Duck Diving guide here!) Find a rock or structure with a promising hole that might just hold a monster Bass during the season and practise your approach. Whilst there’s not a lot of fish around to distract you, or more importantly to spook, Winter is the perfect time to perfect your Spearfishing technique.
Focus on Fitness:
As the saying goes, a Summer body is forged in Winter, the same can be applied to Spearfishing. Spearfishing is extremely reliant on leg strength and stamina, where unlike most other Swimming based sports, you are only using your legs 90% of the time. One of the best ways to train for Spearfishing is cycling, whether it be out in the world or in a gym. The motion of Cycling is actually quite similar to that of fining. The difference being the way in which the force is exerted, where Cycling your strength is focused downward through your legs, and fining is focused up and down as if your legs were on a hinge from your waist. Nevertheless, the two movements focus on the same muscle groups!
There is then the obvious answer of getting in the water and going for a dive to work on fitness. The best candidate for a Spearfishing based workout is Spearfishing itself. It’s just a case of whether you want to brave the cold or not.
Research New Spots:
This can take many forms, but the goal is ultimately the same. To find new spots or locations to hunt for fish when the season starts. Using your time wisely during the Winter months and prepping will reward you in the season ahead. Now, I’m not recommending that you go straight onto forums or groups asking other Spearos for their spots. Because the only thing you’ll get is resounding silence and a dusting of expletives thrown your way. Even if you’re just asking for general locations, Spearos will always assume you’re after their money spots!
What I do recommend is doing your own research. Use the resources available to you, whether it be free or paid Marine Charts to scout areas for pinnacles. Give your mate with the boat a call and see if he’s up for a few hours of scouting a new area. Or even take a few coastal walks, looking for shallow reefs or potential structure that could hold fish during the season. There’s a great feeling of putting the work into identifying a new spot that produces the goods. Even if it ends up being another Spearos super secret spot, they can’t complain that you’ve found it the hard way after all (wishful thinking?).
With this in mind, be responsible when scouting a new area. Also do your research in terms of tides, weather, potential boat traffic before getting in the water. Finding a new area to Spearfish should be a good and exciting experience. So take all of the precautions you can so that it stays that way.
Tune Your Spearfishing Gear:
Winter and the months leading up to the start of the new Spearfishing season are the perfect time to check over your equipment and make any changes or improvements. This time is the opportunity to order new Speargun bands, re-line your guns, replace your float line if needed. All the jobs that you should do each year as a minimum, should be done in this downtime. That way, you aren’t checking over your guns a few days before your first dive of the season and realising that all of your Speargun bands have perished and need replacing. Maintaining your Spearfishing equipment well is a vital part of ensuring your safety, and performance in the water. So don’t be lazy and just think “it’ll all be fine”, use the cold months out of the water to tune your gear and be ready for the season ahead!