TARPON: Spearfishing? Seriously?

Just got this photo in an email alert from Bonefish and Tarpon Unlimited. According to Tarbone, spearfishing for tarpon is a growing recreational pursuit in Louisiana. As tarpon aren’t regarded as table fare, the practice of spearfishing for them is pure blood sport. I have no problem with spear fishing if the fish targeted is to be eaten, in season, and within regulation, but to kill a fish like a tarpon just to kill it…

Especially fish that, according to Tarbone, “are long lived (>80 years) and slow growing, which means that they are especially vulnerable to harvest.”

Here’s the web link with contact information for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Urge the State to change the regulations.

UPDATE: Had to remove the photo, but it’s a picture of three guys holding up tarpon they’ve just killed on a spearfishing dive. The photo originated from the Hell Divers web site. They have more than one photograph of divers holding up speared tarpon.

UPDATE: Tarpon is listed as an ineligible species by the International Underwater Spearfishing Association.

UPDATE: Other blogs that picked up the Bonefish & Tarpon Unlimited story…

Fly Fish Magazine, Fly Talk, Lateral Line Media, Midcurrent

64 thoughts on “TARPON: Spearfishing? Seriously?”

  1. yeah , totally disagree with spearing something just for the sport of killing it, but if its legal it will be tough to convince people its the wrong thing to do

  2. Look at the rest of the site… Obviously no concern for design or aesthetics… just a really crappy 1999 type of website, devoted to killing things because they’re big.

    these guys look like the type that would purchase a vehicle that gets 1 MPG just to brag about how much gas they can burn. I guess that if for most species it’s legal, then to each their own… but if they’re pursuing illegal species and then bragging about it, where are the Louisiana F&G people?

  3. Just so you guys know, this isn’t a popular thing to do down here in LA. I am a member of the Louisiana Council of Underwater Dive Clubs, and I can honestly say that there are probably under a dozen tarpon killed spearfishing every year. On top of that, tarpon aren’t a pressured species in LA due to the overabundance of edible gamefish here.

    Rght or wrong, the number of tarpon killed spearfishing in LA pales in comparison to the catch and release mortality of tarpon fishing in Florida.

    Just trying to help put things in perspective,

    Chris Hartwell

  4. Why killing this kind of fish? This is absolutely contemptible.
    Hope you can ban this awful and worthless killing of valuable fish.
    Kind regards,

  5. It’s so easy to just swim up to a fish that’s 8′ long and put a spear in it. I’d much rather the chance to wear one out with a fly rod and then let the sharks eat it. Or better yet have the fish die from exhaustion.

    Last time I speared a tarpon 2 years ago, I wound up with a broken finger, and busted knuckles that the swelling didn’t go down for over 2 months. All that and I lost the fish, he swam away as if he was unphased.

    You armchair fishermen have no idea what’s out there. You think Tarpon are on the decline, I’ve been diving the Gulf for 27 years, we never used to see tarpon, now we se them by the hundreds on almost all of the rigs on each side of the Mississippi River. We are competition divers. There are several tournements that also catch tarpon in Louisiana. At least this state has the common sense not to listen to every cry baby that wants so save the fish.

    If you want to worry about something, worry about Red Snappers, Groupers, Amberjacks and Triggerfish. Across the Gulf coast these fish are in very high abundance, but you will soon loose the right to harvest these fish.

  6. No one’s saying it’s not a challenge, but that’s not the point. So it swam off with a giant hole in its side unfazed? I highly doubt that. As I said in my original post I have no problem with spear fishing, especially for fish you can actually eat. But to kill something just to kill it…although your website’s motto indicates that’s what you’re about.

    You see large numbers of tarpon because of the net ban back in 1995, which led to an increased abundance of bait in the Gulf as well as reduced by-catch, and because of efforts by organizations such as Tarbone to instill catch and release ethics for a slow-growing, slow reproducing, highly migratory non-edible fish.

    No doubt that improperly handled and released tarpon get whacked by sharks or die from lactic acid buildup, which is why conservation groups are trying to encourage faster fights and better revival techniques. But at least a hooked fish has a chance for revival, unlike a speared one.

    And those fish in Louisiana are the Gulf region’s fish, not the State’s, because of their migration patterns. This is based on studies done by highly skilled and acclaimed fisheries scientists, not armchair fishermen.

    According to others from LA who’ve replied and responded, it’s not that common a practice down there anyway. So why do it at all? If all these other fish are in high abundance, go for the edible ones and get some fresh fillets to throw on the grill. I’m sure a lot of edible fish can break fingers and knuckles and potentially drown you just the same.

  7. I’ll make a deal with you and all of the other catch and release fishermen, you guys quit catching them and putting holes in their mouths an I’ll quit spearing them and putting holes in their sides.

    Heres some links for the veiwing public,

    Damn, that looks like more dead tarpon than I’ve killed in my whole life.

    Heres a great report, now this is deffinately sound fish management.

    “Tarpon fishing in Boca Grande. Ricky fighting a 5 and a half foot 130lb. tarpon. It dragged the boat a mile and a half from the hook-up sight only to be attacked by a hammerhead shark after a 30 min. fight.”

    BTW; the tarpon that broke my finger, with the hole in him, that I lost, I saw him on that same rig last year and again this year and he is all healed up. But you wouldn’t know that because you are nothing more than an armchair angler.

    Seams like when I loose them they at least live, but once you’ve exhausted them they either die of severe lactic acid buildup or get eaten by sharks or both.

  8. No deal. The fact that you kill just a few tarpon or the fact that an animal that you intended to shoot to kill survived your miss doesn’t give you any moral high ground here. You still shoot at tarpon and, it appears from your site, other non-edible fish in the name of “killin’ shit just for the fun of it.” That’s real sportsmanship, I can see that all the way from here in my armchair.

  9. Well then stay home and keep bitching. Your one sided opinions will only help split the recreational fishing community. You give the envoros a good arguement to take all of our fishing rights away.

    But maybe that’s just what you want! Armchair Jones.

    I can see that all the way from here in Sportsmans Paradise.

  10. Wrong. I’m not trying to stop spearfishing or hunting or recreational fishing; I eat fish and wild game and, whatever, I’m not going to belabor the point. So you’re saying we’re supposed to keep quiet about practices we disagree with, something we believe is bad for the sport in the long run, so not to give the enviros an argument?

  11. Keeping quiet is one thing but personal attacks and bashing a mans characters for your own personal and finacial gain are 2 different things. Sure you look all high and mighty infront of your flyfishing trout buddies.

    Did they ever teach you constructive critisizm when you were a kid?

    You have no idea, what you are talking about when it comes to the Gulf of Mexico. You have less experience than I have, you have less time on the water than I do. And you sit on a boat if you ever do go out there. Hell, you probably should be calling me Sir!

    All you are is an opinionated asshole.

    Let’s go diving, I’ll show you what’s really down there. Who knows I might even bring you back.

  12. One, you’re the one making personal attacks. I have never bashed your character, only questioned why you shoot tarpon. Two, I’ll repeat that I have no problem with spearfishing, just the part where you shoot tarpon. Three, I get no financial gain out of this discussion whatsoever, I just disagree with you about shooting tarpon. Four, I’ll make a deal with you and call you Sir if you agree to stop shooting tarpon. Five, here’s my constructive criticism: You’re probably a hell of a diver, but could you please not shoot tarpon? Six, if the offer is sincere I’d try to take you up on it, but when we’re out there can we not shoot tarpon?

  13. #1 What in the hell do you call this?
    UPDATE: Had to remove the photo, but it’s a picture of three guys holding up tarpon they’ve just killed on a spearfishing dive. The photo originated from the Hell Divers web site. They have more than one photograph of divers holding up speared tarpon.
    You bash my club of 27 years, you bash me!
    2. you have to get in the water to spearfish,
    3. you gotta tons of financial gain, this is your website, what is this
    did this ad get here for FREE!!! and what about the other 16 or so….
    #4 is I’ll always do what’s legal and people like you make me want to exercise my right to do so more often than normal.
    #5 is repetitive, maybe that’s due to your New York City education, us Coonass’s are stupid, like a fox.
    #6 I’d be happy to attempt to shoot every good fish I deem so. In my book I only shoot trophies.
    #7 Man up, I’m going in the gulf Saturday, that is 4/19/2008,
    hell or high water, I’m going, let’s show all the people that are supposed to look up to you, U CAN DU IT MANNNN!!!

    you have my email address, email me, I’ll send you my ph.# and we can make arrangements.

  14. 1. That’s all stating fact. You all did have more than one photograph of divers holding up speared tarpon. I’ll go on record again as saying I disagree with your practice of shooting tarpon, regardless of whether you’re the Pope’s emissaries or how great guys you are.
    2. True, I’ll cede you that point.
    3. It’s not an ad, it’s a link to a guide I PAID to go fishing with once and liked so I put a link up to the site. And if I go fishing with them again, I will PAY them again. I don’t accept ads here, it’s a personal blog.
    4.That’s true, it’s legal in Louisiana. But if you’ve got so many other good but edible fish that are a good challenge, why not just go after something you can put on the table? That’s all anybody’s asking.
    5. …?
    6. Why not shoot trophies you can eat?
    7. Come on, you know there’s no way someone’s getting down there on short notice. Will email you, though, tomorrow and we’ll go from there. Got to get some sleep, man!

  15. Question??? What makes Tarpon the sacred cow? It is a “SPORT FISH”. Why not take a few, just for the sport? Thats what fishermen do, right???? If you think spearing one is a cake walk, you haven’t got a clue. Spear fisherman take very few each year. I don’t understand your problem with spear fishing. Are you pissed because we only take a few BIG ones? Tarpon are not in short supply. If you have ever tried to spear one, you know why they are not protected. The don’t need anyone to protect them, they do a hell of a job on there own.

  16. So a few tarpon get speared for sport & not food. This is no reason to get all high & mighty. A dead fish is a dead fish whether used for food or not. No one has to fish just to feed themselves, therefore ALL fishing is sport fishing. There are plenty of tarpon in the gulf & easily as many die on hook & line as spears.

    I know a lot spearfisherman & I know the Helldivers & they are not about to endanger any species. The club has been around for 44 years. There is a wealth fisheries knowledge there a gained from thousands of hours underwater. You conservation types would be better served to learn from them than bash them.

    One more fact: I can tell you from seeing many fish with healed spear wounds that a fish can survive that much better than a fight to exhaustion.

  17. Classic…

    More tarpon die in a single day due to “catch and release” in Boca Grande pass than the Hell Divers kill in a year. Where’s the outrage? This whole conversation smacks of an elitist, hypocritical rant. Lame.

    Mosquito Inlet, FL

    P.S. I’ll bet the house those coonasses eat every tarpon they kill.

  18. Dear Pete and others of concern on this issue of spearing tarpons. My good pal and friend of nearly 30 years, Louis can get a little carry away with his love and passive for hunting both in and out of the water.
    Yes, I am guity of shooting tarpons. But if you going to bring a crusade against the practice than you need to aim higher.
    If you are not aware in Louisana there are numerals fishing tournments, most are call rodeos. In most of them if not all of the bigger-coastal rodeos, tarpon is a category. Usually 3 places for tarpons with awards and/or prizes giving out for the 3 largest tarpons weight at the scales. Some include a tag and release category. The Grand Island International Tarpon Rodeo, the oldest and the largest of the fishing rodeo have 5 places for tarpon and 5 places for tag and release tarpons. They also have an award for the 1st tarpon brought in over 50 lbs and the lenth I think of at least 4’8″. One fishing rodeo in Louisana if the tarpon fishing is good will bring in more tarpons than spearfishing men will shoot in a given year.
    Divers who shoot tarpon does it within the rules and regulations of state and federal regulations and within the
    the rules of the Louisana Council of Underwater Dive
    Clubs (LCUDC). Once a sizn is reach said 120 lbs as 3rd, these divers do not shoot a tarpon unless it can beat that weight.
    We are not wasteful of the resourses and we respect the enviorment. In the past, we have set a mimuim sizn of tarpon and other fishes we are allow to shoot in competition.
    The LCUDC at the suggested of LSU, before the Jew fish was banned set a limit of 100 lbs. LSU suggested 50 Lbs as that the was the sizn they would be sexual mature.
    From my prospective having been diving since 1963 and spearfishing fish since 1971; If it wasn’t for spearing fish, I would have quit diving a long time again. There are 2 kinds of divers that last a long time in this sport. The spearfishing men and the photographies. I try taking pictures, but its a lot more fun spearing.
    The tarpon is a beautiful fish but so is a large red snapper or barrudca underwater.
    I hope I make my point here and you better understand our point of view on this matter. Yes we do spear fish for fun, its like climbing Mt Everst. Why would otherwise sensible and intelligent people do it. It is the nature of the beast, we can’t help ourselves. I respect your right to disagree with me and others on this issue, but I will fight hard to keep my right to shot legal fishes.
    If I was diving and in trouble, I know of no one better to help me get out of that trouble than Louis.
    Terry Migaud

  19. Who says you can’t eat them. You just have to know how to cook them.

    Tarpon Sauce Piquate

    14 lbs of Tarpon cut up in small pieces
    2 cans Dawn’s steak sauce
    2 cans of cream of mushroom
    2 cans of golden mushroom
    1 can of cream of chicken
    1 can of cream of celery
    2 cans of Rotel original
    1/2 small bottle worshire sauce
    1/2 small bottle of kitchen bouquet
    2 bell peppers
    2 containers of cut seasonings
    1/2 cup Minced garlic
    Tony chacherie
    Hot sauce

    Optional fresh mushroom and Holland onions

    Season meat with Tony’s and hot sauce

    1- 1-1/2 cups oil in pot

    Brown the Tarpon

    Add ingredients and water and bake at 400 deg (3-4 hours)
    Stir about every half hour

    I marinated the Tarpon with a small bottle of Italian dressing the night before.

  20. Pete,
    Your comments fall more on the side bashing than any other side. If you are gonna call someone out for following the law and killing fish, you need to call out everyone killing fish.
    The videos of the sharks getting an easy meal turns my stomach. If anglig for these fish is any better than spearing for them, why didn’t anglers cut the fish loose and give the tarpon a chance??? Why did they continue to leash the fish around until the shark got it’s meal??? Did they just want to see the violent death up close and personal???
    If you’re gonna call one out, you need to call them all out brother.
    BTW, I would take the guy up on his invitation, you mind learn something you can write about instead of going negative just to get a reaction from your readers. That tactic has been used for ages and is so transparent. You could be providing good CONTENT to your readers instead of the bullshit.

  21. I respect all opinions here, wanted to put in my 2c. I love spearfishing and fishing and have never shot a tarpon.

    Hunting, Fishing, etc is all about our basic primal instincts.

    I don’t know about you but personally I could buy my fish much cheaper than going out to catch it myself. Those grouper filet’s cost around $50 a pound when you figure in boat payments, gas, lisc, boat storage, insurance etc. Same thing with deer hunting. club membership, gun, lisc, etc. Could buy a steak much cheaper.

    My point is that no one does it purely for the food. It is the challenge. To these guys it is a great challenge with a lot of risk to land one.

    Several tarpon are hooked and eaten by sharks EVERY SINGLE DAY during the season at BG pass. Should there be regulations against fishing for tarpon in boca grand because of the concentrations of sharks? It is a fact that many tarpon get killed because of fishing there. I’ve seen more tarpon die in a day in boca grande than get speared all year.

    I ask you to open your mind for one second and put yourself in his place.

    Think about what a challenge and fight it is to catch one on rod and reel. Now think about how much of a challenge it must be to dive 100-200′ underwater to fight the fish while risking your life on his turf and placing yourself in the food chain. If a shark shows up you have to fight it off. I promise you the spearfisherman gets a huge shot of adrenaline and feels 10x the sense of accomplishment. Back on the boat after a hard fought battle the feeling is indescribable. That is why we hunt.

  22. To everyone who commented who thinks I am against spearfishing, I am NOT against the sport, and I know it’s challenging. I am NOT against killing fish for food. and I am NOT against Louisiana or the State’s sportfishing community.

    I’m sure spearfishing for tarpon is an incredible challenge, based solely on my experiences fighting them with rod and reel. But here’s one agrument for leaving them alone. Fish tracked via satellite tagging have migrated 4500 miles through the Gulf region, from Mexico to Texas To LA to Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, and up the Atlantic coast to the Carolinas. According to scientists I talked to about the subject, tarpon alone are responsible for bringing 5-7 billion dollars to the entire region through sportfishing. Speaking in terms of cold hard economics, Tarpon are worth more to everyone alive than dead.

    I fish at Boca Grande every year and I can tell you that a lot of the responsible captains down there are working hard to protect the fish that sustain their livelihood, from banning jig fishing to aggressively using the boat to help bring big fish in more quickly, to chasing away sharks with the boat, to yes, even cutting fish off to give the ‘poons a fighting chance against the giant hammerheads and bull sharks that follow the tarpon schools. And there are guys who no longer allow pulling fish out of the water for pictures and who take time to revive the fish before they swim away.

    Terry, I’m responding to your very reasonable post here directly. No doubt the tarpon kill tournaments are far more responsible for tarpon death than spearfishermen. One of your contemporaries, Chris Hartwell, contends in a post above and in a subsequent email Q&A I had with him that under a dozen tarpon are taken via a spear by clubmembers every year. Compare that to the number of fish killed in a single three-day kill tournament in Mexico where, according to the scientist I spoke to, anglers killed 73 tarpon totalling over 10,000 pounds. Kill tournaments have a far worse impact than the dive community, but I still disagree with the practice of spearfishing tarpon for sport.

  23. I just pulled this off the net for you Pete,

    For those that want to judge, take a look at that completely ridiculous circus they call the “Professional Tarpon Tournament Series”, where boats cram into the pass, live bait tarpon and feed half of them to the local hammerhead population. The ones that escape the big teeth get dragged over to a scale and then released, exhausted, to said hamerhead-infested pass.

    Now THAT’s a real sportsman, huh?

    …and since when is tarpon a ‘dying breed’? If they really are in that bad a shape, perhaps the PTTS should be shut down….

    This is from one of your own boys. I’d like to continue kicking your ass on this message board but I’m going diving, see ya when I get back.

  24. Guys, I’m confused.. I’ll bet (even you Pete) would feel it to be ok to bring to the dock a potential record tarpon correct? Same goes for any of the Billfish , Shark etc. Now lets talk about the “sport” of it. I’m a spearfisherman as well and feel it to be acceptable to shoot one (if it were legal in FLA) for my own personal best trophy. And if by some chance see a larger one over the course of my spearfishing career would want to shoot it as well. Keep in mind we’re not a bunch of mindless mercenaries that shoot everything that moves..Like Louis says the rigs in LA are covered by them and they (the HDvers) arent having a slayfest. We all have compassion for the Silver King and by no means are out to kill for the sake of killing…Its a trophy attitude I suppose and nothing against you H&Lers as I’m one of those ill fated beasts as well but when ya hook one and lose it to a hungry bull shark it’s chaulked up to “oh well..the law of nature” but when we we’re to shoot one and a big bull shows up it’s a fight for your life and trophy. any of ya THAT BALLSY??I see it as far more of a challenge and more sporting. just my 2 cents…

  25. Worse than a sewing circle, yes you know exactly who you are. All it takes is one panty wearing tree hugger that needs something to crusade about and the next thing you have is a mountain out of a mole hill.

    Please learn the facts before launching an assault. Most of us don’t knock down nuns on the street, kick puppies or speed through school zones but we do enjoy spearing the occasional big tarpon. Just like some of you enjoy fighting one on light tackle and on occasion they are eaten alive or die a slow toxic death. The only difference is that we do it on their own turf, hand to fin in bad currents at great depths with sometimes bad visibility, entanglement dangers and the ever present all too real risk of being embolized resulting in a life in a wheel chair or instant death.

    That said, the truth of the matter is that we as divers hurt any fish population less than the rod and reel community. Fact. We are extrememly active in research and data for fisheries management and will continue to be.

    Yesterday when you complained to your buddy about what is wrong with this country, you’re being what’s wrong with it right now. Like taking “In God we Trust” off of our currency because it offends a few people.

    Please have enough backbone to make your own educated opinion instead of jumping on a feel good bandwagon like a bunch of lemmings.

    I am not asking that you like us, just you do your thing and we’ll do ours otherwise we all lose in the end.

  26. Louis, good luck, except when shooting at tarpon.

    Ed, I’m 99 percent sure you can apply for an IGFA record these days just by taking measurements and photographs, but I’ll have to confirm that and get back to you.

    I’ll reiterate my position one more time. I am not against spearfishing. I am not against taking fish. I am against deliberately killing tarpon for trophy, by rod and reel or by spear. I think most of the people who have chimed in in support of that position on other blogs and message boards are avid anglers, hunters, and sportsmen who agree with that sentiment.

  27. “but I still disagree with the practice of spearfishing tarpon for sport.”

    Please define your definition of sport? Once you do, does that mean I/we have to abide by the same definition. Should the conversation not stop there? Why push your beliefs on us? Why argue over this?

    We abide by ethical practice as Terry pointed out as well as local regulatory laws.

    I could sit here behind my computer screen and say you are a coward for not attempting such a demanding “sport” such as wrestling a 100+lb fish underwater where you sometimes cannot see 3’ and have barnacle encrusted steel oilrigs surrounding you, but I will not. I respect the fact that you thoroughly enjoy fishing and I believe we deserve the same respect. Call us crazy for what we do…don’t tell us we are not in it for the “sport.” 🙂

  28. Pete, I have a question for you:

    Knowing that catch and release Tarpon fishing has a mortality rate, why do you consider a “recreational angler” who fishes tarpon frequently and kills “unintentionally” a few per year – on any higher ground, morally, than a spearfisher who kills one or two a year intentionally?

    I fail to see the difference here.

    “Intent” is not a defense in any court of law, for good reason.

  29. MS Diver, let me rephrase that. To clarify, “spearfishing tarpon for trophy.” We’re all in this for the sport of it, whether we catch and release or kill fish for food, or what have you.

    Like it or not, the concept of killing fish for trophy–to mount and put on a wall or just for the accomplishment of it–is an increasingly unpopular idea within the worldwide angling community. It’s not just me that’s saying it here, it’s thousands of people. The prevailing sentiment of the day is to kill only what you plan to eat, and to revive and release everything else to give someone else a chance to catch it and to give breeder size fish the chance to reproduce and sustain the species. If you want a trophy, why not take a picture and get a fiberglass replica? They last longer and are less expensive than a skin mount. If you want a record, use an IGFA certified scale, take a pic and revive and release.

    Look, I know spearfishing and wreck diving is a tough sport. I know it’s challenging and its practitioners are highly skilled and take risks that the average Joe doesn’t take. I get it. We all get it. No one is questioning that. Again, I just disagree with the practice of killing tarpon for trophies.

    Chris, again I respect your efforts to keep this a reasonable discourse. I’m not claiming any moral high ground, nor am I preaching from some Mount that you’re all infidels. Here’s my argument: Following modern catch and release techniques–using circle hooks to prevent gut hooking, using the boat to help fight, protect, and revive the fish, shortening the length of the fight so the fish can recover more quickly, not lifting the fish out of the water so that its internal organs get crushed, or with smaller fish supporting them by the belly and holding them horizontally and quickly returning to the water, then taking time to revive the fish so that its swims off under its own power–all that gives the tarpon a lot better chance of survival than sticking it in the side.

    But that’s not the point of spearfishing anyway. You know far better than me that the point is to face off with a fish, shoot it, and battle it and subdue it under water until it is dead. While some species of fish can sustain this type of pressure from divers and rod and reel anglers alike, others can’t. That is why they are protected. Tarpon fit that bill, according to highly respected marine biologist Jerald Ault of the Rosensteil School in Miami, who said “Tarpon are extremely sensitive to even light exploitation.” He was referring to the practice of kill tournaments as well as dive kills and yes, even mortality from improper catch and release tactics.

    This is not me making stuff up or pulling it out of my ass, this is coming from respected fisheries scientists who support recreational fishing activities.

  30. This is almost laughable Pete:

    “Following modern catch and release techniques–using circle hooks to prevent gut hooking, using the boat to help fight, protect, and revive the fish, shortening the length of the fight so the fish can recover more quickly, not lifting the fish out of the water so that its internal organs get crushed, or with smaller fish supporting them by the belly and holding them horizontally and quickly returning to the water, then taking time to revive the fish so that its swims off under its own power–all that gives the tarpon a lot better chance of survival than sticking it in the side. ”

    Why hook it in the first place if you’re so concerned about it’s well-being?

    Maybe we should get the Tarpon mental health counseling as well, that way we ensure it doesn’t suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the fishing ordeal! Better yet, we should use tax-paying dollars to fund it!

    Pete, are you by any chance from California?

  31. Chris, you made me laugh with your last line as well, so we’re even.

    Obviously we’re hooking it for the sport, too, and for the adrenaline rush that comes from targeting and fighting big fish. Come on, man, you know that! But that’s the difference, we’re hooking it, not spearing it where there is no optional outcome unless you all miss your shot.

    To the mental health argument, this isn’t PeTA here, giving tarpon emotion and feelings associated with higher level vertabrae when fish don’t even have a cerebral cortex. This isn’t a coombaya moment where we’re sitting around a campfire saying wouldn’t it be great if the lions and zebras were friends and the trout and the eagle just got along and we all loved each other, and clownfish convinced sharks to go vegan? I think most anglers and hunters are quite comfortable with our place at the top of the food chain.

    But what we’re talking about is which fish are capable as a population of having a sustained harvest–by rod, reel, spear, net, or otherwise–and which aren’t, and specifically in the case of tarpon, of asking people not to kill fish purely for trophy. To consider not killing them in order to enhance the recreational pursuit of tarpon throughout their Gulf and Atlantic range, not just in Louisiana.

    All anyone is saying is that the tarpon is a slow growing, highly migratory fish that takes a long time to reach reproductive maturity, and is not regarded as table fare. So why kill it for trophy?

  32. Pete,

    You answered my question by saying, “Obviously we’re hooking it for the sport, too, and for the adrenaline rush that comes from targeting and fighting big fish. Come on, man, you know that!”

    Just like my buddy Louis, you’re “Killing Shit for the Fun of It!”

    You know, that even through the dramatic efforts you described, in an ironic attempt to keep a fish alive while you are killing it – there is the chance that you will kill the fish.

    Your 2 dead fish are no different than Louis’s. A dead fish, is a dead fish, regardless of the intent.

    Arguing this point is like Elliot Sphitzer saying people shouldn’t “intentionally” engage in prostitution, but if you happen to find one in your hotel room have fun!


  33. Pete,
    At this point you should call your buddies back into the discussion.
    You know, the ones whom were so easily shown the door.

    “Give me liberty or give me a Tarpon burger”

  34. Chris, your Spitzer line made me laugh out loud, too. Although it’s pretty clear he intentionally wanted to tap that, so it’s not such a direct analogy.

    We clearly disagree on this point. I’m in the camp, in the case of tarpon, of fighting the fish and letting it go rather than fighting it and killing it for trophy. That’s my stance, and there are thousands of anglers from North Carolina down the coast and around and down to Mexico who agree with me.

    To everyone coming here from this forum thread:


    I think I’ve been fair with you all in letting you voice your comments and disagreement with me here. Whether you think I’m a prick, an idiot, an asshole, or whatever, you can all give me that.

    I’ve heard your side, and I disagree with you, plain and simple. I’ll repeat for the final time that I’m fine with the sport of spearfishing and I’m fine with taking certain species of fish home for food, but I disagree with you on the concept of deliberately killing tarpon for trophy.

  35. Pete, I to am a Louisiana spearfisherman. I have never shot a Tarpon, and don’t have any plans as of yet but maybe some day. I shoot for the thrill but eat most of what I shoot, not everthing. Tarpon are part of the Derby Board, and are legal to shoot. Who are we to decide if they can shoot them or not? Lets take Duck hunting for example.I won’t shoot a Dogris(better known to the Northern states as a Bluebill) they taste like SHIT. But since I don’t like them why shiuld anyone else but most northerners like them. Yall can have all of them.We don’t try to change your way of thinking, why impose yalls beliefs on us. There is no right or wrong. You believe one thing we another. We could go on with this untill the cows come home but it appears they are to far away from the barn. Because you watch a fish swim away doesn’t mean he is going to survive. Not all shots are fatal just like not all catch and release are survivable. I don’t see anyone bitching about the Lion, Tigers, and Hipos being hunted for trophies, whats different?

  36. Pete
    I see from your previous posts that you only endorse killing things that you are going to eat. So I ask. Do you pick through your freshly mowed lawn like an Ethiopian kid might pick through his little brothers hair eating all the dead bugs? Or do you stop at the service station and lick the windshield clean? I doubt it. So you kill things and make a conscience decision not to eat them. I am not giving you a hard time about not eating your bugs so why are you bothering me and my Tarpon.

  37. pete, i havebeen diving for 20 years and have killed maybe 4 Tarpon, that is a fact. my personell best is 122 lbs . i will not shoot another one unless i can beat my record. now with that said how many Tarpon have you killed knowingly and how many do you think you may have killed unintentionally after realease? all we are saying is that Tarpon fisherman actually kill more tarpon than the divers do. since people on several boards have seen fit to post that they intend to e-mail the LDWF i would suggest that everyone here do the same in support of the spearing of Tarpon. i have and actually recieved a positive responce.

  38. Pete dont waste your time with these guys. The fact is killing tarpon is legal in Louisiana and nothing you say is gonna make em stop. Divers arent a big deal anyway. Kill tournaments are. The real deal is to get poon regs in Louisiana like every other state.

  39. There is no doubt that more are tarpon are accidentally taken than we as divers take in any given year. In fact I would be willling to bet that there are more tarpon annually taken in tournaments and by release mortality than we take in 10 years. And like Terry said no one is going to shoot a tarpon that doesn’t make at least 3rd place so we are not just randomly shooting tarpon. And we dont just shoot them because it is legal. We are out for the challenge. Just as it is a challenge to hook and fight one it is a challenge to spear and fight one. And if you survive the ordeal you have a prize fish to talk about for the rest of your life. And if it does get off the survival chance is pretty good. I have seen many fish with healed up holes in there side actively feeding and swimming with schools of their species. I have also witnesses an almaco jack with a spear tip hanging out it’s side doing the same. I would like to have taken it just to get the $50.00 tip out his side but I was in Florida with an open water class. I know I wont change your minds and you will still feel the same, but we still feel the same too. These are prize fish and they are a huge accomplishment for even the most experienced spearfishermen here like Louis, Terry, Gumby, Steve H., and Will. Hey Chris, sorry buddy you don’t quite make the most experienced list but I’ll give you an honorable mention. But anyway, we should stop all the infighting and rally to the cause of decreasing limits and seasons, becasue we know what is out there and it is not a depleted fishery. Not on tarpon and not on any of the so called overfished species.

  40. Here is what I think this all boils down to. A few people are upset because divers are killing tarpon with a spear and not eating them. It’s done for sport, just like the rod and reel guys. Here is a point I would like all of the people against spearing tarpon to admit. In all of Louisiana, there are less than 20 divers capable of spearing large tarpon successfully and safely. Each year those 20 divers spear 15-30 tarpon per year. Why in the heck would anyone care if 30 tarpon die each year by a spearafisherman??? Can you possibly pick a lesser cause? It’s like saying we can’t shoot squirrels while they are in trees because we might hurt a few of the leaves on the tree. That as well as the argument to not spear 30 tarpon per year is ridiculus. Is it possible for you guys to agree with that, or does this not make senes. Believe me, unless you know what you are doing, you will be smart enough to not shoot a tarpon. That’s why only the best 20 or so divers in Louisiana are able to shoot them. By the way, I am not in that 20 diver list yet, but I will be hanging a tarpon on a rodeo board in the next 2-3 years, and I want to have a right to do it. This is not a fish that needs protection because of a 30 fish per year harvest by divers. This point alone should be enough for the environmentally conscious people to concede that fact. Submitted by Cyril, Vice President of the Louisiana Aqua Aces Spearfishing Club and 4 year member of the Louisiana Council of Underwater Dive Clubs. And may I say that my comments are a reflection of the majority of the divers in the council and surrounding dive clubs of which there are over 130 members. (20 of which shoot tarpon)

    1. Cyril forgot to point out that every single year more than 10,000 tarpon are kill in the catch and release fishery in Florida not oincluding the 1250 kill tags the State sells so hook and line fishers can kill them for pictures! If you want a cause, get Florida to do away with kill tags and close the season during migration,

  41. Hey divers, some of you guys good points but some guys sound like goons. If you don’t want to come off like thugs get one or two guys like Cyril to say it and leave the macho bullshit for the rigs.

  42. I’m back again Pete,

    Went on a H&L fishing trip today, and boy I feel for you guys. Jerkin a line on the end of an idiot stick was the worst idea I ever had. Too many cocktails the night before got me on that boat. But I was with friends and that’s all that matters.

    We had to run away from the fish? Yes over here in Louisiana, we are still following the fedral regs for red snappers. I have no idea why.

    But I’m troubled when guys from Fla. try to impose their beliefs on us over here when they won’t even follow the fedral regs in their own state. Same with Texas where I have many friends, but was also attacked by Scott Salacia.

    Let me tell you where I stand on that issue, I was on the Recreational Red Snapper Ad Hoc Committee and the motion was made to implemet rule #306 and make you guys follow the fedral regs even in your state waters. Do you wanna know how I voted, I voted AGAINST you guys having to follow the fedral regs. You wanna know why? It’s not right for one, and I don’t know enough about Fla. or Texas waters to make that kind of judgement. Also I respect their biologist that think the NMFS is full of BS with all these overkill fish regulations.

    And on the same note, you don’t know enough about Louisiana waters to make any judgements to what we do over here, as I said once before, if you’re not getting wet don’t tll me the fish stocks are declining, remember, I jerked a line today and came home empty-handed. With my speargun, the box would have been full, maybe that’s why I’ve been discriminated against all of my life.

    BTW, LSU biologist have already came out and said, there is a deffinate resident tarpon population in Louisiana. We have fish that do not migrate, because we have ideal habitat, year round, that’s our target and it shouldn’t bother your little piece of the pie.

    And I notice your buddies with all the one liners have desserted you, my buddies didn’t dessert me. Thanks guys.

    Rok out

  43. “Obviously no concern for design or aesthetics… just a really crappy 1999 type of website, devoted to killing things because they’re big”- Mike

    Is this an insult?

    Maybe we should blog at WordPress.com with the theme of Mistylook by Sadish and not spend time killing big ones like ya’ll

    Way to be elitist-

    Shouldn’t ya’ll be about moral & cultural relativism?

  44. I am a hardcore spearfisherman. to be honest I don’t see the fun or “hunt” or anything “primal” about spearing a tarpon on scuba that lets you swim right up to it and shoot it point blank in the head and then wait for it to tire out towing a float or reel then shoot it point blank in the head again.
    I mean spearfishing isn’t fun if the fish is stupid and doesn’t even know its being hunted. Doesn’t this take the whole “hunt” aspect out of it? this is the same reason I don’t shoot AJ’s. Shooting a large fish just to show it to people that don’t know about spearfishing to look cool is petty. Anybody that knows shit about spearing would be more impressed with somebody that shot a 20lb cubera than a 200lb tarpon. I mean damn, don’t you get sick of shooting a fish that is so easy to get close to after the first or second time and that has NO food value. argue it all you want, tarpon is shit as table fare. Any fish that is glamorous or considered a trophy in spearfishing is very good to eat, thats just the way it is.

  45. Elitist Freediver,

    You’re obviously ignorant about SCUBA spearing rules in Lousiana, there are no floats and no reels, there is also no 2nd spear. The spearfishing clubs in Louisiana shoot the fish, then hang on, no matter how deep or how big. You let go, you lose your gear.

    From what I was told SKIN spearing rules in Louisiana are the same way, no reels, no floats.

    Doesn’t sound very easy to me, I don’t think I’d try that on a fish that may be well over 100 lbs.

    Next time read all the posts before commenting, it won’t make you look so stupid.

  46. “Give me liberty or give me a tarpon burger”

    The real saying is me liberty or give me death.

    Are you saying eating tarpon is death because IT’S FUCKING INEDIBLE?

  47. ….ok man, i’ll try not to look stupid to a bunch of guys that spear inedible fish just to feel cool.

  48. Elitist Freediver, maybe I will look cool when I pass up the big AJ’s and shoot a 20lb. Cubera Snapper. Maybe there is a reason why you are avoiding Amberjack. You are misinformed if you think that shooting AJ’s and Tarpon is as easy as shooting them point blank and hanging out while the fish tires. In Louisiana, the fish on the rigs are 2-3 x’s bigger here than in other parts of the world. Shooting at 100+’ under an obstruction like an oil rig with currents and low vis is more of a challenge than you think. As for tarpon, if anyone showed up with a tarpon that was landed on a buoy, they would be laughed out of the state and it would not count for anything. Did you not read my post? Only the best divers in the world can successfully shoot a tarpon on scuba, and 30 fish per year is not something to criticize someone on. The fact is that you or I am not good enough to do it safely. I on the other hand will have my record tarpon on the books in the next 2 years, and you will still be avoiding big Amberjack because an 80lb fish is not worth your time. By the way, the council already has a 106′ Amberjack shot in February of this year. Come on down if you think you are cool enough to break that weight.

  49. Are you guys saying that you shoot Tarpon without a floatline or Reelgun? Are you using scuba or is it done on one breath? I am a competent freediver but it sounds very difficult to land a 50 kg gamefish without a floatline or reelgun. How many divers have died doing this? My email add is cyclone.prop@iafrica.com if you want to reply privatly. Thanks

  50. If I can’t eat it or give to somebody that will, I’m not going to kill it. I read an article recently in an outdoors magazine – the writer said he felt fine about shooting grass carp because he could justify it as fertilizer for his fruit trees. Stretching?

  51. I am a spearfisherman and am pretty dissappointed that those folks condone spearing Tarpon. I have dove with Tarpon and it is an amazing experience. The approach very closely almost touching you and then just slightly veering at the last second. Shooting one would be extremely simple.

    That Hell Divers site has a lot of links to spearfishing products on it. The manufacturers of those spearfishing products don’t want their name associated with something so controversial and outright wrong. Contact those manufacturers but when you do it, don’t blow your stack. Instead, in a rational fashion, simply point out that the sport of spearfishing and sales of their products will be hurt if those products are used to kill Tarpon.

  52. I have learned one thing over my years of spearfishing, those who can, do and those who can’t complain. The miniscule percentage of tarpon we take (and 99% dont roll over and die, they kick our asses) is part of a regulated competition as well as done for research. I think I have taken four in 25+yrs and passed up many.

    We say Merry Christmas, work hard, play hard and aren’t afraid of how we look to someone else. We know what is right and wrong and don’t have to look to you or anyone else for approval. Grow some balls, get a life and throw away that pink polo shirt that your girlfriend makes you wear. What is happening to this country? Yes, we all have dozens of handguns, rifles, shotguns, etc. but you’ll never met a nicer, more giving bunch of people in the world.

    I invite all of you who think they are spearfishermen to come dive with us and will bet you that you wimp out before the trip is half over and we will avoid tarpon at all costs. I get a kick out of seeing sniviling, beat up, broken geared, bruised and bleeding “spearfishermen” that think their crap doesn’t stink. We know all of ours does.

  53. Seriously, you are so upset about divers in Louisiana killing 10 tarpon a year when Florida sells 1250 Kill tags and there is a growing sport of feeding tarpon to sharks in Boca Grand all the way to the Keys? Get a life.

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