Best Spearfishing Classes for First-Timers
Credit: Woods Wheatcroft

Best Spearfishing Classes for First-Timers

Forget all the assumptions you have about kiddie-style spearfishing of baby grouper and perch. Ocean spearfishing is about taking the fight to the fish – a pursuit as dangerous as it is macho. We're talking giant yellowtail and sea bass and shark, from dozens to hundreds of pounds. A wrong move can have you hopelessly tangled and being dragged to your death underwater. But beyond the chance to take on a trophy fish, the allure is obvious – the freshest fish you'll ever eat, earned the most honest way possible. We handpicked the best places on each coast and a couple abroad for you to get your feet wet in this most awesome of adventures.

Fort Lauderdale

Why here: It's the best domestic approximation of the tropical spearfishing ideal – warm water, great visibility, abundant fish.

Who to hire: Lauderdale Diver. Start with a two-and-a-half-day free-diving class [$345] to learn breath-hold techniques, then graduate to the three-day basic spearfishing course [$595]. Limited time? Hire one of the shop's dive masters for a day of one-on-one instruction [$150].

Sonoma County

Why here: The water an hour north of San Francisco may run cold, but it usually runs clear, making it easy to spot the monster rockfish and big lingcod hiding in the kelp forests.

Who to hire: David Laird, through Wallin's Dive Center in San Carlos. The local spearfishing guru teaches basic free-diving in the center's pool [$175, including class materials]. And he'll guide first-timers on day trips for $450.

Tobago

Why here: Spearguns may be prohibited in the Bahamas, but not here in the southern Caribbean, where you'll find mammoth wahoo and dorado.

Who to hire: Richard Parkinson of Sea Hunt Extreme has been a spearfisherman for 20 years. A full day on a 38-foot boat, for up to four people, begins at $700 total per day. Parkinson will start you in shallow lagoons before heading offshore for trophy fish.