Fish are generally curious. Most species feel attracted to anything new, anything they haven’t seen underwater before. This is in our advantage as spearfishermen since the fish will approach you for a closer look. However, our movements can easily spook a fish that was confidently coming to check you out.
Always avoid sudden movements, even when you are not seeing fish around you, they may be already watching you from a distance and analyzing your moves. Make your advance slowly and relaxed, you will have better chances of a good shot.
The next step is pretending. Always pretend you are not interested in the fish. The moment they feel your intentions, is very likely they will turn around and swim away. There are rare cases when no matter what you do, they will still come, but generally is best to remain calm, either drifting, holding on to a structure or lying on the bottom. If you see a fish approaching you, don’t start swimming towards it, just wait for it to get closer.
If a fish is already on the run when you see it, it's very likely it may have already had a spear shaft flying over its head. In cases like this, you can apply a different approach, but more on that in a future article.
Factors such as time of the day, weather, moon, mating season, visibility, depth, etc., will affect how the fish behave. For example, most fish will be more active at dusk and at dawn. The early hours of the day as well as the sunsets offer an opportunity of camouflage for many species. The darker shades on their dorsal areas as well as their lighter colors in the abdominal part of the body become more effective at those times of day and will allow them to remain undetected for a longer period of time before they can hunt their prey. An area where you didn’t see anything during the day may become a hot spot of fish activity later that same day.
Many fish have a tendency to stay up current from structures, reefs or shallow areas. This applies to bait fish as well as to predatory fish, for this reason it is a good idea to swim up current and then let yourself drift down current. If the current is strong it's best to have a boat drop you off a good distance up current from the area you want to dive in. Most likely you will find fish way before you reach the structure, but many times you find them also resting in the eddies formed by the current or behind a ledge away from the current, so make sure you explore the whole area. When fishing in currents, ideally you should start your descent before you reach the desired area, this will allow you to be up current from the fish, which will help you in the approach. When you end up down current from the fish you can still manage a good shot but many times the fish will be swimming already away from you.
Always avoid desperation shots. If the fish is already too far away and you are not confident you will give a good holding shot, is best to let it go, it's a terrible feeling watching an injured fish disappear in the distance. Besides, by letting it swim away undisturbed, you are opening the possibility of having a second chance to shoot the fish later on.
I hope these few tips can help out fellow spearfishermen out there to be more successful. I will be posting some more articles regularly in this website. Dive safe.