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What is aspetto?

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Tom Arnold
Oct 11, 2002
What does this word mean? I have heard it used many times in the spearo section and I'm interested to know what it means...
Hey there Mr. Lizard,

"Aspetto" is an italian word. Even though my knowledge of this lnguage is very limited I can tell you that it means "waiting" or "expecting".

There is a perfect English word to describe it and it is "Ambush". That is the one I used when the English version of Spearfish! was still up an running (sorry once again Alison). :(
I guess Aspetto is used widely around this forum because it sounds more exotic... I may provide you with the even more exotic Bulgarian words: "zasada" or "pusia". :D
The texts about the techniques posted by SASpearo are actually a copy of the techniques as they were described on Spearfish! SASpearo did a nice job to improve the English and adapt them to be more universally applicable, since when I wrote the articles, they reflected my experience only in the Black Sea and the Med. He developed the basics further by adding the chumming/baiting technique, which we don't use around here. So you wouldn't find anything really different on Spearfish!, besides the illustrations.
The misterious fish marked with the colors you can find in SAS's thread is a small gloden gray mullet I shot several years ago... :)

The ambush (aspetto) hunting can be described in very few words and we can put it like this:

"A spearfishing technique in which the spearo does not follow or attract the fish but simply waits for it relying on his own camouflage."

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for the one's who use aspetto / ambush technique;
how long do you usually lay down and wait for the fish ?

for me "ambush" bears a connotation of waiting while having "all the time in the world". However when you "freedive" thats not the case unless you have gills.
I suppose for me in about 4 metres of water, its never going to be less than about 30 seconds , I usually give up after about 2 minutes but if there is a fish hanging about just out of range I will hang on for another minute or so. Of course that all depends on how I feel at the time but as Im usually alone I dont like to push it and like to surface without gasping to much :)

It really depends on your personel physical status and the depth. In the first days of the season I used to have not more than a minute of bottom time. But after few months of diving it usually grew to three - four times. But such bottom times are absolutely unecessary. It was a rule here since the pioneers of spearfishing that if a fish doesn't come to your ambush spot within a minute, then you don't have a reason to stay down there.
And this is true:
During ambush, you lay on the bottom in absolute repose, which increases your bottom time. But your oxygen reserve depletes. If you stay down too long, and you shoot a fish, then you will have to catch it and subdue it, which means sudden and excessive movement. That's when you suddenly will realise that you REALLY NEED that AIR! Excessive ambush is one of the most common case of drowning among spearos, so you better let go of that fish...
The big secret of the ambush is not big bottom tmes, but to find the right ambush spot. It's probably the hardest technique to master, because 75% it depends on your knowledge of the behaviour of the fish, the weather factor, and the dive spot...


Excessive apnea during spearfishing is BAD BAD BAD!
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When using that technicue (aspetto), do you have to change places frequently or if you find a good spot that hides you you continue diving again and again at the same spot?
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I think it's all up to the fish... :)

If there's fish at this spot why changing it?
Usually after you shoot a fish the comotion scares away most of the fish from this spot, but if you picked a good spot (fish pass by it frequently), then after some time the fish will pass again. But it all depends on the species, whether you stoned the fish or not, etc.

I usually change the spot for another near by and after then I always return to check the old spot again...

Cheers and safe dives!
Hi Kin

I guess it depends on the fish, but my experience with aspetto is that you will need to change. I often see my biggest fish on my first or second dive, then they seem to get a sense that you are a threat, and they move off.

Regarding the issue of bottom times, Wishbone mentioned the thing about 1 minute, no fish, then get out. Thats probably the best piece of advice to come from this entire discussion. When spearfishing, If you ever need to stay under for over a minute without actively waiting or stalking a fish, then you are either diving VERY deep, or you are wasting energy that is better spent on later dives when you do have a good one in your range. Just my opinion.

In my experience bass over here arrive about 50 sec to 1:10 into the wait.

Black bream sometime after 1:20

Pollack about 20 secs when you hit the bottom.

Wrasse are somtimes waiting for you on the bottom :)

So for me I generally dive for about 1:20 or maybe a bit more if there are fish to see. On Sunday my dives were about 1:30 / 1:40 (7m to 9m) but that is only because I had a camera and was more interested in seeing the bass than shooting one.
(But I would not recommend that you exceed half of your best breath hold and def. head for air when you hit the first contraction - and you should have a buddy spotting you as you are a beginner... and a float/SMB to indicate to boats that you are lurking with intent below)

Cheers - hope that is helpful
Its even depends the depth of the sea, the ones in shore are more clever since they saw the humans more frequently so they come earlier than their speciemans in deep sea.

It also depends how well you choosed the hiding structure and place and overall performing of the technique from beginning to end. Aspetto is not just what you did down on the bottom but it starts with your duckdive and ends when you breath on the surface again.

For me in shallow, spinefoot comes between 40-1.25 (depends the mood of the fish and quality of aspetto), sargo comes 1.20-2+ (they are not easy to catch in shallow, well at least in some places here), dentex in shallow water, probably won't come before you blackout (she will come to invesitgate later with thought of "who is this stuipid humankind") of course there could be exceptions, my diving buddy got one last winter in shallow water....
So if i find a place that has fish (any kind) around i just keep diving at the same spot until i hit one, then change place some meters away or much further?
I personally don't believe in the "time per species" calculations... Cause it depends on too many other factors.

The most important thing in the aspetto is picking up the spot. You may dive for hours in a promising looking spot and see nothing, because you don't know the behaviour of the fish. But that's not enough. There are also other many other things you have to think about:
- the behaviour of the fish in this particular weather (wind, etc. so you know where the fish will come from)
- whether the weather will change. Per example almost all species tend to be less carefull and go for the shallows to feed before the weather worsens. Some species in a storm tend to seek sheltered calm water in such weather. Other move for deeper water, some use the opportunity when it will be hard to find food to migrate. Etc.
- Where the plankton is/ Water temp - attracts small fish - attracts predators.
- Visibility - high vis - seek better cammouflage, the cammo is not so important in murky water.

There are many others I'm missing, but the next most important thing is to know your aquatory. You have to be experienced in this area - otherwise it's gambling. Aspetto is all about experience. In order to gain it I can only reccomend a sentence a friend told me: Plan your dive and dive your plan. It's made for the scuba divers, but I think it's absolutely true for us also. When you hunt you check first all those factors and make a plan and follow it when you gain enough experience you will hardly miss.

The depth issue is kind of tricky. I always find it hard to really guess the good depth. But what I do (especially in new areas i don't know) is gradually increase the depth to my comfort limit picking spots deeper and deeper. I try to remember the ones where I saw/took fish. And then return back to the shallows, decreasing the depth gradually to double check the spots. And if I have a match - I use this depth...

And the third most import factor is how well you hide at the actual ambush spot.
portinfer said:
...So for me I generally dive for about 1:20 or maybe a bit more if there are fish to see. On Sunday my dives were about 1:30 / 1:40 (7m to 9m)...
Good down times. A questions on technique: What do you do with your snorkel? Do you take your snorkel out to dive? Do you put the snorkel back in during ascent or after a few breaths at the surface?
When shallow diving I usually just open my mouth during the actual diving to let the water fill the snorkel without bubbles cuz it scares the fish. When deep diving i always take the snorkel out.
Mr X - I have a picasso Nodo and it sits under the strap of the mask (I wear the mask strap outside the wetsuit hood) - just as I duck dive I spit out the snorkel and it sits under my chin or there abouts as I dive down. Alot of people like this snorkel and alot dont - I like it cos it seems softer against the head under the strap... and the mouth piece is really soft - which I like.

I've seen people take it out but in my opinion this is unecessary movement and keeping it inthe belt would be fine but I think for me it sits where it is happily.

One less thing to worry about :) just spit it out as you take your last breath and duck dive...
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