KIHEI, Hawaii // I have been attempting to spearfish now for a few weeks and finally caught, cooked, and ate the first fish. It was more difficult than I thought, and much more time consuming for such a small reward.
First, I had to identify the fish that are actually edible. I almost speared a Pufferfish the first time out, then realized I would have been incredibly sick had a I tried to eat it. After some research, the fish that I have been going after now are Kala and Manini. The Kala are easily recognizable by the "unicorn like" horn, and the Manini by their yellow body with vertical stripes.
After identifying the type of fish underwater, I needed to determine their size due to Hawaii fishing regulations. There is no fishing license required to spearfish, but the Kala have a 14 inch minimum limit, and the Manini 5 inches. The final step is actually to get near spearing distance of the fish. Rarely have I ever come close to a Kala, and they tend to always sense I am coming. The Manini feed on coral and swim in big groups, so they are my target the majority of the time.
Learning to be accurate with the spear is a whole separate challenge. On the beach I practiced with an apple laying in the sand. Just to know how difficult aiming is, I usually miss the stationary apple 4 out of 5 times from only 3 feet away. A moving fish that knows you are a predator is much quicker.
In about 20 feet of water I usually have no luck. With a 5 foot sling spear rarely do I get an accurate shot. Closer to shore in about 5 feet of water there was a large school of Manini and I was able to spear 2 of them relatively quickly before they all dispersed from the area.
Manini only grow to be 10 inches, so filleting them is difficult. Instead, just gutting them and cooking them whole on the grill with lime and butter is what we did. It turns out, they tasted pretty similar to a smoked white fish.
In the end, I had probably about a little less than a quarter pound of edible fish, but the whole process of learning a fun new skill was totally worth it.