Florida Keys Spearfishing
Florida Keys spearfishing is done mostly in the lower and middle Keys. That’s because John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo is a protected zone where no spearfishing is allowed. That’s too bad, because Key Largo has the clearest water of all the Florida Keys. It’s a very popular destination for scuba divers but spearos have to keep on driving down the Keys to get to spearfishing grounds. Another thing to know before you go is that unlike other parts of Florida where the dropoff can be quite close to shore, Florida Keys spearfishingusually requires a boat. The reef is at least six miles out in the Keys, and the dropoff is beyond that so unless you plan on spearfishing in ten to twelve feet of water on a few patch reefs for hogfish, plan on getting your hands on a boat even if it’s a small one.
Spearing fish on the reef is always fun, especially if you’re not an advanced diver. With a little practice, freedivers can get down to twenty feet and much of the coral reef is at depths of ten to fifty feet. Of course the deeper you go the bigger the fish, but there are some pretty good (meaning “legal”) red grouper out there in twenty to thirty feet. Plenty of rocks to search under. AJs will swing by, as well as bar jacks sometimes big enough for eating. In winter look for cero mackerel, in depths as low as twenty to thirty feet. And of course there are always lots and lots of snapper hanging around the rocks on the bottom.
Florida Keys spearfishing is regulated, just like fishing and by the same folks at the Fish & Wildlife division of the State of Florida. The same size and bag limits apply as for fishing, and you must have a fishing license. You must put up a dive flag when you’re down and you cannot spear fish inside the Sanctuary Preservation Areas. The sanctuaries are marked by large yellow bouys so keep an eye out when choosing your spots.
If you’re visiting on vacation and plan on doing a little Florida Keys spearfishing, then you might want to know where you can find some local dive shops. Key West has probably the most to offer, with a Diver’s Direct, Sub Tropic on North Roosevelt, and a small offering at a dive shop on North Roosevelt near the Sears Plaza. Diver’s Direct is the largest. It’s located on Simonton just off Duval Street. They have a few reserved parking spots on front of the store, too. Find Riffe bands and other brands too. Find Omer, Riffe and Sea Hornet spearguns. Find spare parts for spears, dive bouys, snorkels, masks, wetsuits and fins too. For those who spearfish with scuba gear, find your gear here as well. There’s also a Diver’s Direct in Key Largo for snorkel and scuba gear. Since you can’t spear in Key Largo, spearfishing gear is limited. If you’re in the Middle Keys, one of the best dive shops is the Looe Key Dive Shop, between Key West and Marathon. If you need help or guidance with gear, this is your best bet in the lower Keys. You can’t spearfish Looe Key but you can go out beyond it and of course in the direction of Marathon it’s not protected. More information on Spearfishing Charters.