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Florida Keys Spearfishing Can Be 
A Dangerous Eco-Friendly Sport

When scuba diving Florida Keys spearfishing is a complimentary yet dangerous addition, to this underwater sport.

Spearfishing is considered dangerous, because it's the most "up-close-and-personal" form of Florida Keys fishing there is.

Plus enthusiasts often choose to go freediving, which makes spearfishing even more challenging.

Spearing at times may seem like mortal hand to hand combat.

Picture yourself with a speared large grouper fighting you all the way to the surface, and you can't grab your kill knife.

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You don't want to let go, and you can't get dragged back to the bottom because you're running low on air.

Shark and Spearfishing Diver

Diver Spearfishing in Florida Comes Up Against a Shark
Florida Keys Public Libraries, Don DeMaria Collection, Flickr

Spearfishing is almost primitive in it's theme, as man struggles to overcome angry fish in their very battle for life.

Unlike other forms of fishing in Florida where you're safely removed from sharp teeth, and dangerous fish, spearfishing takes you directly into the environs of your prey.

Now you have become the hunter. You stealthily seek out and stalk your intended target. You attack quickly and viciously. Your kill is swift and clean. That at least is your intended outcome, it just doesn't always work that way.

September 11, 2006, "The Houston Chronicle" wrote an unfortunate fishing report about a man who was killed off the Florida Keys when spearfishing. He'd targeted a large Goliath grouper that ended up tangling the spear line around the wrist of the Florida fisherman.

Spearfishing for grouper

Spearfishing For Grouper
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Dale M. McDonald Collection

Grouper are hard diving freight trains and this grouper quickly descended into it's rocky lair. Once a grouper gets back into it's den, they become like dead weight and are immovable. This grouper held his position, effectively pinning the man to the ocean floor until he ran out of air and died.

Scuba diving Florida Keys spearfishing has also taken on a new facet, by becoming 'eco-friendly.' It's the most effective method currently being employed to help eliminate the growing population of the non-native, and venomous lionfish.

In fact, prize awarding spearfishing tournaments are now held annually to help eradicate this invasive species of fish. These spearfishing tournaments help to increase the awareness of this problematic species, and spread interest in the sport of spearfishing.

Lionfish in Florida Keys

The Lionfish Population is Exploding

Since the best and largest fish are found in deeper water, you'll most likely be scuba diving spearfishing instead of snorkeling. Knowing that the water offshore of the Keys is quite shallow, you'll have to plan on going further out.

You'll also need the right spearfishing gear so you're not only successful on the hunt, but so you can remain safe.

Over and above the appropriate spearfishing equipment, you'll need a sharp knife and a good underwater flashlight so you can look into nooks and crannies without risking injury to yourself.

Another fun accessory you may want to have with you is an underwater camera, because you never know exactly what you'll find 'down there'. Sometimes capturing unusual moments or creatures of the dark with a camera is the better, fun way to go.

Of course, if you're planning on spear fishing Key West, the water gets deeper faster so you won't have quite as far to go. However, no matter what your plans are, you'll definitely need a boat. You may find it easier and more productive to go with any of the spearfishing charters, especially if this is your first time spearfishing in the Florida Keys.

Below is a preview of several Florida Keys spearfishing charter companies available through FishingBooker. You'll note that they provide a wide array of fishing options, but they do also include spearfishing on their fishing charter trips.

FishingBooker makes choosing a charter incredibly easy as they have a vast variety of search criteria so you can drill down to exactly what you want.

For this reason I've chosen to work with them as an affiliate. Also, so you're fully aware, as an affiliate of FishingBooker, if you click a link to a charter, book it and go on it, I stand to earn a small commission. The charter does not cost you any more booking here or some place else, as this is what being an "affiliate" means.

The following link takes you to the main Florida Keys spearfishing charters page, and it's here that you can drill down to:

. what you want to spend
. what part of the Florida Keys you want to fish
. where you want to fish (flats, backcountry, reef, deep sea)
. what you want to fish for (snook, snapper, shark, wahoo, barracuda)
. boat and crew details
. options and amenities
. fishing tackle and more!

Spearfishing Regulations
For Monroe County

In regard to spearfishing regulations, Monroe County has determined where you can fish and what you can target. This is in response to other complications that arise from this sport, which includes nicking or missing your target completely, which are common.

Before spending a day out spearing, you'll need to familiarize yourself with the Florida fishing regulations that cover spearfishing in Monroe County. These numerous fishing regulations are implemented to help protect the fish, the marine environment, and the people around you, who are in or near the water's edge.

First, Florida Keys spearfishing is not allowed in any freshwater areas. Nor is it allowed in the Everglades National Park, the Dry Tortugas National Park or any of the State Parks.

When spearfishing Florida, it's allowed in saltwater regions but with a number of obvious exceptions. No use of spears is permitted within 100 yards of any public or commercial fishing bridge or pier. No use of this spearfishing equipment is allowed within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary areas.

This spearfishing regulation is designed to protect not just the fish inhabiting the water, but the delicate coral reef from being damaged. Also, since the coral reefs attract a lot of people Florida Keys diving and snorkeling, it also protects them from being injured by any wayward spear or lance.

Lionfish Dispersal
Courtesy of YouTube and AcuSpear

When spearfishing Florida, you can go in any State water south of Long Key that's not within any National Marine Sanctuary area. To get a quick snapshot idea of where Florida Keys spearfishing is allowed, you can visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's website.

To keep it simple, if you plan on going to the Middle Keys or south of that point, and you pay attention to the zone restrictions, you'll have plenty of opportunity for spearfishing in Florida Keys.

Those who are Florida Keys snorkeling or diving must remember to use the divers down flag and display it visibly. 12 x 12 flags are required for buoys and floats, while 20 x 24 flags are required to be displayed at the highest point on boats.

There are certain other Florida fishing regulations that apply for anyone spearfishing in the Florida Keys. Of course you'll need to have a Florida State Saltwater Fishing License. Bag limits also cannot be combined between Federal and State quotas.

The following rule of thumb will help you determine if you're in State or Federal water. If you're on the Atlantic side, State water is saltwater that extends out 3 nautical miles from the nearest point of land. If you're on the Gulf side, State water is saltwater that extends out 9 nautical miles from the nearest point of land.

There are also Florida fishing regulations regarding equipment. Bangsticks, powerheads and rebreathers are strictly prohibited in any of the waters surrounding the Florida Keys.

Even though there are numerous Florida fishing regulations, Florida Keys spearfishing presents the diver-fishermen with an up close opportunity to be passionate about this thrilling underwater sport.

With an abundance of Florida saltwater fish to target, and beautiful clear waters to explore, many exciting challenges and fishing adventures await next time you're Florida Keys scuba diving and spearfishing.

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Local Weather Zip Codes

Key Largo - 33037
Marathon - 33050
Key West - 33040