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Northern California Spearfishing Techniques Help!!!

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Will Dive for Food
Mar 4, 2003
Northern California Boys (or Girls), ...

I have dove in a lot of places in the world and I would say that Northern California would be the most difficult to spearfish in (not just because of the stupid fishing laws...we can't shoot rockfish until July????) because of the clarity (or lack of) factor of the water, kelp, and brrrr cold water condition. Can you help this poor person on the techniques you locals used spearfishing in this type of waters. Thank you in advance.
Diving up here is really all about busting your butt & spending as much time on the bottom as you can! Knowing what areas hold what types of fish is invaluable as you can waste tons of time scouting over fishless terrain. In the end, it's just putting in the time to find the productive spots and working the grounds effectively...

Most of the fish don't move very much from their area & are realistically quite easy to shoot.

The following link is for 2002 nationals held in Carmel:

They neglected to mention Sheepshead & Calico Bass - the only two fish I look for down there with the recent closures.


Blue & Black rockfish are the most common fish in Nor Cal. Closed now, but they are abundantly located mid-water through out kelp patches & around structure - much more heavily populated in Sonoma/Mendocino area than Monterey/Carmel. Easy to locate & pretty easy to approach & stone.

Lingcod, Cabezon, Gopher Rockfish, China Rockfish, & Grass Rockfish are bottom-dwellers usually found in cracks/holes or perched outside. Easily approached & just as easily speared, they are good eating & sought after. Unfortunately, as with the rockfish, they are all off-limits till July 1st. :waterwork

Calico Bass are only found in the southern dive spots of Nor Cal (i.e. Monterey & Carmel). Frequently seen scooting away, distinguishable by their white spots, they associate with kelp & both stealthy drops and appealing to their curiosity are great techniques. They learn to fear divers quickly, so often one wrong move & they bolt. Good eating & with the closure - my favorite target.

Sheepshead are also found in the southern dive spots of Nor Cal (i.e. Monterey & Carmel). They frequently associate with pinnacles as structure as well as holes/cracks. Slow & docile free swimmers, they are easy to shoot, but sometimes become wary of divers and keep their distance. Sheepshead are often territorial and you'll be able to find others in the same vicinity.

Greenling are the slender little fish that you'll find scooting around holes. Decent eating & often inquisitive, they make easy targets if you're so inclined. They're off-season now too.

Perch. You'll be able to find these anywhere. Open season & typically quite abundant - if you like to eat them, you'll be in heaven :)

Opaleye - usually only found in Pacific Grove area, they are widely abundant. While many don't like their taste, I have a few friends who will gladly take them off my hands, so I usually oblige & shoot a couple for them. They sometimes hole up, but are generally free-swimmers in schools or solitary.


I'm sure I missed some, but that's the gist of the main fishes. Any questions pertaining to a particular species, I'd be glad to extend my limited knowledge :hmm

Whew, that's an Iya-sized post! :eek: Karma's in the bottom right corner ;)
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Good one, fuzz. But why did not you mention a halibut? According to what others say, halibut may be found on the sand, near some rocks or kelp in the 5 to 20 feet of water. Best time is June and best place is Del Monte beach. It did not help me, though, and I pretty much started to doubt in its very existence:head . May be more experienced spearos here can share their success halibut stories. :D
As far as diving tips go: don't fight kelp on the surface - you can get through it easier if you dive. Visibility is also much better on the bottom. My 2 cents.
Sorry - neglected to mention halibut because I haven't come across one yet freediving & wish to believe that they don't exist instead of blaming my ineptness at hunting for them... :hmm
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