Jim, the master hunter. After learning more about Jim it made perfect sense why he was able to blast mahi. The dude loves adrenaline sports and hunting and fishing of any kind, he can’t sit still because he loves to learn and he doesn’t care what it takes to get to the end goal because he’s gonna get there! So all I did is get out of his way and let him do his thing! This was the epitome of what I like to say about spearfishing in Hawaii, there are good days and there are better days but there are no bad days!

Positive vibes don’t lie! They don’t know how to. Dave and Lindsay are simply the kind of people you just want to be around, hang around with and just generally absorb any and all of the positive vibes that radiate off these two. Obviously, by looking at the fish that Dave speared on his first time out with us, it was like watching Picasso paint, just pure art! Great job to both of you and I hope that fish made it back for everyone to enjoy. Keep in touch and take good care.

The ladies and gentlemen of Kohanaiki!!! These young men range from I believe 13 to 16 years old and have more heart than just about anyone. They swam with an inquisitive oceanic white tip shark out in the blue water, than went reef spearfishing because they couldn’t get enough. We had to actually cut them off or I think we’d still be out there! GREAT job guys, it was an honor to be out there with the next hungry generation!

Blue water hunting successfully involves every aspect of reef spear fishing and much more. Items such as chum and flashers can be used to attract fish while proper gear rigging will secure and land the fish once speared. The techniques that a blue water hunter uses are similar to reef diving however there aren’t any rocks to hide behind. Successful blue water hunting not only involves attracting fish, proper equipment, and techniques but also safety, which encompass the knowledge of shark habits and activities.

Lures

Commonly used lures to attract fish are similar to what most pole fisherman would use. Chum, often referred to as burly is one of the best fish attracters due to its natural smell and shimmer. Anchovies, sardines, and squid are most commonly used. It is best to cut the chum into small pieces that way it will appear less appealing to a shark. When a blue water fish is spotted approaching the chum it is best to allow a small portion of the chum to be consumed before a dive is attempted. This will allow the fish to become distracted by the taste of the chum as well as the shimmer. One major draw back to the use of chum or burly is sharks can be drawn from a great distance due to the smell. Often if a shark arrives on the scene he will appear agitated, moving quickly and purposefully.

Flashers are made up of a shinny or metallic substances that include polished metal, reflective tape or plastics. Fake or imitation squid dangling off of a series of flashers is common to attract a variety of blue water fish with less likelihood of attracting sharks than chum. A flashing lure can be submerged at different depths to attract specific types of blue water fish. While hanging from a boat platform the up and down motion of the waves will create a constant movement in the flashers and lures. Reflective tape can be used on the spear gun itself to attract some blue water fish straight to the spear gun.

Techniques

The sound made by strumming the spear gun’s rubber bands can emulate a struggling bait fist. A diver can also create a variety of sounds in his throat to replicate feeding or breeding sounds of some blue water game fish. Also a spear fisherman’s posture and direction of view can create curiosity or conversely, fear in a fish. A diver needs to try and position himself in a non-aggressive position. An opportunity to dive straight down onto a slow moving fish is best and easiest however a more likely scenario is to dive parallel or even away from the intended game fish which will cause curiosity in the fish and comfort in your non-aggressive behavior.

Judging distance of blue water fish due to the lack of background or reference to surrounding objects cause many spear fisherman to take long or poorly led shots. Try using the spear tip as a reference to distance and size by glancing back and forth from the fish to the spear tip. Wait until you have a clear shot on a vital area and the fish appears within a few feet of your spear gun. DO NOT take a desperate shot. In most cases a desperate shot will simply wound the fish which will later die, or a clean miss which will scare the fish and any surrounding fish therefore making a second shot much more difficult or impossible. A spear fisherman needs to relax his muscles until the moment just before he pulls the trigger. A relaxed diver’s position will in turn relax the intended prey.

When the fish is speared it is vital to play the tension on the line as a reel on a fishing pole. Let your hands create enough drag to slow the fish down but not too much to tear the fish free. Allow the fish to run when necessary but apply the appropriate drag to slow it down. Pull up slacked line. Ready a kill knife as the fish is being brought to the surface. Subdue the fish by gently grabbing its tail and sliding your hand slowly up under the belly towards the under part of its gills. Once the neck area is gripped firmly use the kill knife to dispatch the fish. Remove the fish from the water as soon as possible to limit the possibility of attracting sharks. Many injuries occur when a speared fish is not dispatched properly and is handed to boat personnel. Often a fish will thrash violently when removed from the water even though it appeared lifeless.

Equipment

Blue water spear gun rigging must be impeccable. Any flaw or weakness may cause the loss of expensive spear fishing gear or even a personal or world record. In reef diving lost or faulty gear may be retrieved from the bottom. In blue water diving faulty gear is lost forever. Improper rigging can also be hazardous to the diver or others around him. Sloppy or poorly rigged equipment may become entangled with a diver after a fish is speared. A blue water fish is extremely powerful and may not give the diver the chance to cut himself free or for another diver to come to his aid before it’s too late. Remember below a certain depth retrieval of gear or personnel is impossible. A good diver will always change used or old gear to ensure the safety of himself and other divers as well as to secure a fish once speared. In most cases heavier rigging is required than what is used for reef spear fishing, which includes a more powerful spear gun, heavier spear shafts, slip tips and appropriate floatation for the largest possible local fish scenario.

The use of camouflage wetsuits has enabled divers to approach pelagic fish much closer than in years past. Appropriate fit of a wetsuit is important but keep in mind some camouflage patterns may work better than others. Some blotchy patterns have even been known to attract sharks. With experimentation a tight patterned blue camouflage seems to break up the outline of a diver and enhance the curiosity of a pelagic game fish.

Safety

Safety is of utmost importance. As a blue water spear fisherman you only get one chance. Appropriate safety gear should be checked regularly so that it is working properly and kept in pristine condition. A sharp knife is imperative and it should be easily accessible. If diving in pairs at least one diver should carry a bang stick/power head. If diving alone or if there is a chance of separating from your partner then all divers should carry a bang stick/power head. A bang stick/power head is your personal insurance policy and may make the difference between you telling the shark story or your friends and family reading about it.

Bang sticks can be used several different ways. Some divers prefer to slip the power head over their spear tip. This enables a diver greater distance from an approaching shark and also allows the power head and shaft to be fired for even greater distance of defense. However this method requires the spear shaft to be loaded in the gun. If a shark appears after the gun is discharged the tip loading style of power head is nearly useless. Other divers prefer a handheld power head. This enables a diver to protect himself regardless of if his spear gun is loaded or not. This method requires a longer handle to allow for a safer distance to discharge the power head upon the approaching shark.

The mention of the word “shark” brings fear and anxiety to most people due to the lack of understanding. Keep in mind if you are diving in the ocean you will sooner or later encounter a shark situation so don’t be surprised. One of the best things for a diver to do is to inquire with other divers about shark experiences. Discuss with your dive partner a “plan of action” when a shark appears. The most important observation a diver should make once a shark is spotted is to identify what type of shark it is. Each species of shark has specific characteristics and in many ways can determine the action that a diver(s) should take. The next most important observation is to take note of the demeanor of the shark. Depending on the “situation” a diver needs to either remove himself from the water as soon as possible or be willing to engage the shark if necessary.

When a diver decides to remove himself from the water it should be done quickly and precisely. Abandoning the gun just before entering the boat will help expedite the removal of the diver. The float attached to the gun will allow safe retrieval of the equipment once all divers are safely loaded onto the boat. Do not spend time dangling on the side of the boat explaining the situation. There will be plenty of time later to talk story.

If the diver(s) are willing to engage the shark than they should ready any defensive equipment such as a power head/bang sticks and alert any other divers in the water as well as the boatman. If a diver is willing to engage a shark it should be for the purpose of observation and gaining a better understanding or appreciation for the shark, or to continue spearfishing with a competent partner to watch your back. A willingness to interact with a shark should be a slow transition from no interaction, with each experience adding to the last like a mental log book. However never assume you fully understand a shark’s behavior, because they may react aggressively “without cause.”

Successful blue water hunting involves every aspect from luring the prey, utilizing the techniques learned from experience and from talking story with other divers, proper blue water spearfishing equipment and rigging, and especially safety. A successful hunt is when everyone comes home uninjured, with all the equipment they left with and of course fish. Always keep in mind the beauty and bounty of blue water hunting and what lures us spearfishermen back again and again. Respect the ocean and all its’ inhabitants and they in turn will respect you.

Everyone knows that proper diet, regular exercise, as well as plenty of time in the water, is the best way to physically improve your diving. But not everyone is aware that you can increase your bottom time by using the right gear.

1. Warmth & Fatigue

Associated with loss of body heat and energy a warm body temperature keeps the muscles that control your breathing relaxed, and therefore operating more efficiently. When you shiver your body is wasting precious energy. A proper-fitting wetsuit will keep you warm, relaxed and in the water longer.

2. Neutral Buoyancy

Even without a wetsuit most of us are naturally buoyant. A weight belt compensates for the buoyancy of the human body and all the gear we use for diving and swimming. Weight belts allow a diver to simply sink downward, rather than kicking to the bottom which causes the large leg muscles to consume oxygen. Also, with a weight belt a diver can lie motionless on the bottom without straining to keep from floating to the surface or fighting the surge of the water.

3.Easy Mask Clearing

Low volume masks minimize the effort it takes to clear (release pressure in) them during descent. Volume refers to the total amount of air between your face and the mask (width x height x distance) of the mask. High volume masks require more precious air from your lungs to clear. A low volume mask in black silicone is the ideal mask for freedivers.

4.Efficient Swimming

Imagine a device powered by your legs that could improve your swimming ability at least four times greater than even the best scuba fins. The freediving, or long blade fin, is almost double the length of the average fin and is made with high-tech polymer resins for extreme recoil. A long blade fin allows a diver to swim in currents and reach the ideal destination with less expended energy and allows a much faster and easier ascent from deep dives.

This is the #1 most common question I am asked, so I decided to write out my answer in hopes that it will help. The answer to the above questions is both yes, and no. First I will address the reasons why, yes, it’s perfectly fine to use whatever equipment you already have to go blue water spearfishing. After I answer the reasons it’s ok, I will than address the reasons it’s not ok. Here we go…

Many people are unsure of what lurks in the deep unknown, how big and powerful the pelagic fish really are, how aggressive and how plentiful the sharks really are, so on and so on… So, my take on it is this, for a “little while” it’s ok to use whatever equipment you already have just so you know what you are getting yourself into. That way you don’t spend a bunch of money and than realize you don’t ever want to do it again.

What you may also realize after using your regular equipment to try and shoot blue water fish is how different and difficult it may be compared to what you are use to and what your equipment was intended for at the time you originally purchased it and for what geographic area of the world it was intended for. For example: a diver comes from California and he likes to Abalone dive and spearfish on scuba and occasionally freedive spearfish. The water in Cali is roughly 50 degrees with 5-20 foot visibility. In Hawaii the water temperature is 70-83 degrees with 100-200 foot visibility. That right there is enough reason you should understand that a different wet suit will be necessary for the different waters. Typically a 7mm suit for California and a 3mm suit for Hawaii. Again, you can use the 7mm in Hawaii if you want to. Because of the visibility, a speargun used for California is typically going to be “small,” 50cm-75cm, while a typical speargun to be used for blue water spearfishing in Hawaii is 120cm-160cm.

The typical set-up for blue water is a minimum of a speargun 110cm (55 inches) or longer with two (2) 5/8 diameter bands, a good quality float line and a very good quality float. A life guard float is NOT a good float for blue water nor is a $20 float from Walmart. Long blade fins are strongly recommended but not “required.” A wetsuit is also strongly recommended but not required. A dive knife is recommended as it works better than harsh language against a shark, but a knife is also helpful for numerous other uses. Gloves are another important item to have.

So, here’s the reality of using what you already have; you save money. The reality of saving money, you will not get the full experience. A 7mm suit is going to be extremely hot, like wearing a wool sweater in a warm climate. A 50cm-75cm gun is for rock fish that don’t move, not large open water fish with a necessary shooting distance of 15-25 feet. Again, you can do it, but you will likely not be able to shoot anything. Really.

Come for the experience with the gear that you have. Or upgrade your equipment and that way you are ready for anything. Fishing is fishing so nothing is guaranteed, like any kind of hunting, but sooner than later it WILL pay off.

Also, don’t forget that our charters include all necessary equipment for spearfishing in Hawaii! So if you’re thinking about lugging your equipment on the plane with you, save yourself the hassle. We’ve got you covered.

Dive safe,
Rob White

The Real Question:

You want to make a billion bucks? Invent a pill that increases your lung capacity and puts you in perfect condition and shape without any negative side affects. For the rest of us, we’ll just have to stick to the old fashioned method and bust our butts for months to gain even the slightest amount, and lose it in the one week we take off to go visit grandma. You gotta love the human body for that reason…

At the risk of sounding like I’m babbling I need to tell you a few other things before we get started.

  1. If you read, or better yet, try these techniques and hurt yourself doing them then you need to go back to your desk job and quit all physical activity. This is simply a proven “GUIDE” to help you improve what you can already do. If you desire a world record then you need to seek professional training.
  2. The idea behind this training segment is NOT to encourage you to pursue a world record. Again, it’s simply a guide to help you reach your own, individual, personal goals otherwise known as your PB (Personal Best).
  3. These breathing exercises are to be used on land. NOT in the water or even while performing ANY form of “work out.” Don’t attempt to even walk around while performing these techniques because you’ll pass out, bang your head on something and blame me for it. NOT!

The ARD (Air Restricting Device)

An air restricting device like the Expand-a-Lung is a useful tool for conditioning your lungs for better freediving.

First of all, the mouthpiece on these devices make you drool all over yourself so you will need to trim it to work best. We will also be removing and replacing the device from our mouths twice with each “cycle” so it is more convenient to have it trimmed.

Next, you will need to adjust the dial or “restriction level” to the appropriate amount. What is “appropriate” for you will have to be determined by trial and error. Anyone new to these exercises or have not done them for a while should start off at the easiest setting. By the end of this training session you will probably have a good idea of where your level should be, but feel free to change the “restriction level” that suits you best, even during the training session. To start, set the dial with the least amount of restriction. Remember, you can add more restriction as we go along.

Ok, are you ready? Here we gooooooooo…

Sit comfortably on the edge of a chair or couch etc. Your back should be straight and NOT resting on the backrest of the chair. Plant your feet firmly and comfortable on the ground in front of you. Your sitting position should feel like you could stand up and sprint at a moments notice.

At this time, if it helps to close your eyes or to stare off into space for a moment, take a minute to relax but stay ultra alert.

Warm Up

Now that you are relaxed and ultra alert:

  1. begin to breathe in deep, but easily, and hold your breath at the top (inhale over about a five second period, no straining). Wait until the lightheadedness goes away then…
  2. slowly exhale (exhale over about a five to ten second period, no straining). Inhale again as soon as your body tells you the slightest feeling of “wanting” air then repeat step a) and step b).
  3. Repeat these steps about five or six cycles; this is considered your warm-up.

Work Out

USE YOUR DIAPHRAGM! Do NOT flex every muscle in your body trying to get as much air as possible; you are doing nothing to help yourself. THIS ENTIRE EXCERSISE IS FOR DIAPHRAGM STRENGTHENING ONLY, NOT A FULL “BODY PUMP!” However, you may need to use some back and neck muscles as well as your shoulders and stomach muscles. It is BEST to move as little as possible for this exercise so that way you are focusing your breathing on your diaphragm muscle. Repeat step a) (above). At the top of your breath, and you are ready to breath out, hold the ARD (Air Restricting Device) up to your mouth and breath out into the ARD. The key factors are this:

Breath out (exhale):

  1. As MUCH as you can
  2. As HARD as you can (to a limit… don’t hurt yourself)
  3. As LONG as you can

You may notice an abundance of blood rushing to your head to a point where it becomes uncomfortable. If you feel this uncomfortable rush then follow these steps:

Stop exhaling for a moment but keep holding your breath. Wait a few seconds for the rush to reside then continue your exercise (exhaling).

Note: You can reduce the blood rush by lessening the effort (reduce the resistance on the ARD or don’t push so hard to exhale) you put into exhaling. But the more effort you reduce the less benefit you will get from the exercise so you will need to find a balance. Like any sport you will need to push yourself over the course of days, weeks and months but do so in small increments and carefully.

At the bottom of your exhale, remove the ARD and forcefully, but carefully, blow out any remaining air. This will feel a bit strange and uncomfortable the first few times you do it but the more you do these exercises the easier it gets. As soon as you reach the absolute bottom of your exhale place the ARD back to your mouth and:

Breath in (inhale):

  1. As MUCH as you can
  2. As HARD as you can (to a limit… don’t hurt yourself)
  3. As LONG as you can

At the top of your breath, when you can’t take in any more through the ARD, remove the ARD from your mouth and inhale as much as you can to top-off your lung capacity. Hold the breath for a five to fifteen seconds, depending on how long it takes the light-headedness to dissipate. As soon as you feel the need to breathe, or you have reached the fifteen-second maximum time to hold your breath, place the ARD back up to your mouth.

Note: This breathing exercise is not designed for holding your breath so do not try to hold your breath longer than what is absolutely necessary. As stated before:

Breath out (exhale):

  1. As MUCH as you can
  2. As HARD as you can (to a limit… don’t hurt yourself)
  3. As LONG as you can

Congratulations! You have completed one (1) cycle (actually one-and-a-half cycles but this is how you want to start this workout)! Now only twenty-nine (29) more (total 30).

* One Cycle = One breath in with ARD to capacity, remove ARD and inhale to full capacity and hold. Blow out through the ARD to minimum lung capacity, remove ARD and exhale to full empty.

– Place ARD in your mouth:

Breath in (inhale):

  1. As MUCH as you can
  2. As HARD as you can (to a limit –  don’t hurt yourself)
  3. As LONG as you can
  4. Remove ARD
  5. Inhale to full capacity and hold temporarily.

– Place ARD back in your mouth:

Breath out (exhale):

  1. As MUCH as you can
  2. As HARD as you can (to a limit –  don’t hurt yourself)
  3. As LONG as you can
  4. Remove ARD
  5. Exhale to full empty.
  6. Start again…

* One Workout = Thirty (30) Breath Cycles

Possible Workouts Per Day = Two (2). One in the morning before breakfast. One in the evening before dinner.

Possible Workouts Per Week = Fourteen (14). Twice a day, seven days a week. Keep in mind, you are doing a workout and you are working a very specific muscle so allow yourself enough time for “muscle recovery.” You may even notice, like any sport, eating healthy food and limit or eliminate alcohol will help in “muscle recovery” and therefore you will gain faster and your results will be more drastic.

Other general exercises like running, swimming, biking… can aid in shaping, toning and conditioning the body. This exercise and breathing techniques are specifically designed to strengthen your diaphragm muscle. Like any muscle, if you stop working it out, the diaphragm muscle will go back to its “original condition.” The ultimate results vary for each person as well as the time it takes before noticeable results occur. Feel free to “try different” techniques to suit your individual needs, but do so slowly and cautiously. Remember, common sense is expected and appreciated.

Personally, I have allergy-induced asthma so this is not only an exercise, it’s a necessity. When I stop using these breathing exercises I can actually hear myself breath due to a constricted airway. I can feel the results after the very first “workout (thirty breath cycle).” I dive just about every weekend, which is not a lot or a little, yet my bottom time can vary from three to four minutes all the way down to thirty seconds on a bad allergy day. I wish I were dramatizing…

I derived these exercises by learning from and training with World Record holder Brett LaMaster and National Freediving Champion Deron Verbeck, years of practice, trial and error and the introduction and availability of ARD’s. These are not “recognized” training methods from any major organization. This is just logical information derived from proven techniques, personal experience and lots of guinea pigs.

A few months from now I will introduce you to some, possibly new, terminology and techniques to further your progress using these on-land breathing diaphragm exercises (i.e. Purging, Packing…etc.) Please start slow and learn the proper technique FIRST and then learn the more advanced stuff, otherwise this is all for nothing. If your ego will not allow you to start from the beginning then please don’t start at all. Be humble in your training and your progress because you WILL notice a significant difference IF you follow these directions exactly.

Please realize that I am taking a bit of a risk giving any form of instruction for any kind of training because humans can be strange. I can’t be with you to supervise your training so I must rely on my fellow human’s common sense, which makes me a bit nervous.

Good luck and train well.

Rob White


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