The Tampa Bay Times

The “Reef Donkey Rodeo” is now in full swing in the Gulf of Mexico.  Now that greater amberjack season is back open as of the 1st of May, these hardy fighting fish, a/k/a reef donkeys are back on the hit list.  Catching and landing a full size amberjack on hook and line is tough. With a fishing pole on a boat you can use your gravity and the flex of the fishing pole to your advantage.  Spearing one of these robust fish is a whole different matter.  A diver weighs almost nothing when in the water and when a fish pulls us, we go with the pull.  It is very hard to stop a powerful fish from taking control of you when you are tethered to the fish with a spear and line.  The best choice is to instantly paralyze “stone” the fish with the spear.  However, that is hard to do.  The spinal cord or brain are very small targets on a fish and hard to hit.  Anywhere else and these fish take off.  Sometimes I feel like they are trying to swim with me to Texas.  They are strong and they have plenty of stamina.  The goal on an fighting amberjack is to get the fish to swim in a circle and work your way down the line and to the fish.  Then if possible…use your knife or fish poker to subdue the fish with a strike in the spine or brain.  Very exciting, but not a safe task for beginner divers.  Be careful and be ready to cut the line if you are in danger.

Capt. Bill Hardman teaches scuba classes and runs trips for Scuba, Spearfishing, Freediving and Technical diving courses at Aquatic Obsessions, 6193 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, FL  33710.  You can reach Capt. Hardman at (727) 344-3483 (DIVE) or CaptainBillHardman@adidasq5d

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