Spearfishing on Anglesey

Spearfishing is a little different from the tradition method of rod fishing. Firstly it’s a far more sustainable approach to fishing. Secondly It’s more environmentally friendly, in that, it cuts the use of plastic out of the equation, by reducing lost lines hooks and other discarded material. Lastly, It brings you into very close contact with the life that lies beneath our watery landscape, in its slow tranquil pace, which is just fabulous for getting a better understanding of Angleseys marine environment.  Each time I have been out on the water of late, it never ceases to amaze me how much life there is just beneath our coastal waters.

Sea grass, bladder wrack and larva weed cover most of the inter tidal foreshore, and with it house an abundance of life with it. Normally within five minutes I have spotted maybe ten varieties of fish, crab and lobster. Snorkelling along the foreshore on Anglesey you will see the same.

A quiet little cove that was harbouring some prize flatfish

Contact with the underworld
Spearfishing brings you into close contact with the marine environment in a very beautiful way.  You get such amazing close contact with the mammals of the ocean and see a completely different world operating at its own pace. The tide rises and the tide falls, the current increase and then drops off, the sun rises and the sun sets. That’s the entire diurnal rhythm.  All life moves with this subtle rhythm back and fourth 365 and a quarter days a year.

The water quality and visibility changes dramatically through the season. Clarity occurs around May when the westerly winds decrease and the sands and smaller particulates fall out of solution to allow better visibility. Sea weeds then begin to grow and life starts to thrive again for the summer months. By August there are Kelp forests and sea weed gardens. So much life is supported within this biozone. I began spearfishing three years ago and transitioned from terrestrial hook and line fishing. Don’t get me wrong I still practice both, but the buzz that I get from seeing all the life there, is far more fun than studying with a rod in my hand! That may sound as a complete paradox, in that my purpose is there to take life for my own consumption, and I guess it is, however I can not physically get any closer o my own food than this and to bring fresh caught organic food to the BBQ, is nothing short of wonderful.

My fishing buddy Digby with some cracking flounder

The practice of spearfishing is basically snorkelling with weights and a gun, a very sharp spear attached to a powerful elasticated band. You can’t fire these things off in air- as I once mistakenly learnt. Darwin Award pending. The friction of the water slows the spear down and prevents if shooting off its lanyard attachment to the gun. You basically swim out along the shoreline or rocky coves with your gun, bag and float and dive down intermittently to see if anything lies underneath you. With Spearfishing for Plaice and Flounder this is the case anyhow. With rounder shape fish like bass and mullet you have to lye down in the weed and wait for them to come to you.
You must develop a good free diving technique and and get used to the pressure change on your ears as you drop. If I’m honest none of my fish have been deeper than 15ft deep though so don’t think you need to be a pro free diver.

Fully kited up on a winters day, visibility was too poor this time around

Spear fishing kit 
The great thing about spear fishing kit is that you can start for quite cheap in relative terms. Here is a list of the kit I’m using most days out in the water right now.



Cressi Comade 50


                      Cressi Comanche 75




Buoy or SMB (surface marker buoy)


Reel and lanyard

Standard SMB Reel and line with lanyard clip


Fish bag or threader

 Your call I have both for different occasions



 Cressi Camouflaged


Weight belt


Lead Weights


Dive Knife


Wetsuit Boots


Wetsuit Gloves


Snorkel and mask


Dive reel

Some of my set up with a good size flounder on top

Spear fishing locations on Anglesey

Every beach and rocky cove is a fish trap, there are many species just under your nose that you cant even see due to them just being out of sight. I like to explore beaches and and coves with the snorkel first and come back with some idea of whats going on down there, then if I think its good, I will return with the spear. With the predominant wind being from the east right now, I will spear on the West coast of Anglesey. So Treaddur bay, Rhosneigr, Aberfraw, and any coves in-between. Look for areas where sand meets gravel or sand meets rock. Look also under sea weeds as they rise up, they often can be hiding fish underneath then. Look for reefs at low water and see if you can manage to swim to them at HW- if its too far look at a small boat or kayak.

Look for steep drop offs and big kelp beds..

When do I go HW or LW?
High water always works better for me, however I normally go and explore with the snorkel at LW to see what to expect. Check your tides for anglesey here.

Day or night is an even better question.. I prefer evening in all of my fishing but very early (430 – 530 am) over high in summer also works well. if the sun goes to high over head, I find it diminishes dramatically.

An evening tide on the Menai straights.. lots of fish moving around

What to spearfish for in Anglesey.  
Well that depends on whats available and what your preference is. I enjoy spearing flat fish and fish such as pollack and bass. Currently with he bass ban in force, we can no longer target bass, but we do have the option of mullet instead.  Some times lobster and spider crab are available, sometimes edible crab too. Mostly though in the month of July I am spearing Flat fish and occasional lobster. Mullet have past me multiple times and I have left them move on, their curiosity fascinates me so much so I enjoy their little flypasts. I Let them swim for another day and I don’t particularly enjoy the taste of them anyhow, too muddy for me. Dab, Flounder, Plaice and turbot are in most shallow water locations, Gurnard both grey and red are in deeper water loactions on Anglesey but can be sought with more practice and breath holding.

Another flattie with a selfie


Size limits for each species and what not to spear
Bass is a no no due to the ban. There is not any point spearing wrasse as I’ve cautioned some young anglers locally- simply put they are almost uneddible due to the amount of bones in them, and yes believe me I have tried. Dog fish are also on the non starter list for most as the amount of time spent getting the skin off this shark will put them off fishing for life. All species caught are subject to British size limits in the UK so you must know the allowed size of a fish before spearing it. How do you do this? Know what the size limit of the species your targeting before you head out to get it. I’ll attach a table here. This is done so that less mature fish can get a chance to grow and spawn.

Saftey and Sustainability 
Discarded line with hooks in can be a bit of a scare of you get a tangle, and particularly if you get a hook in you. Carry a dive knife to ward of this happening to you and a pair of gloves. Selective kills- things look much larger under water so get a good idea before you shoot a fish, and make sure its well above size limits.

Have a buddy. Don’t go alone if you can help it.
Spears guns are dangerous. Thats pretty important to get. If your alone tell someone where you are going. If your with a partner, then keep your gun on safety at all times. Do not swim one in front of the other, that doesn’t work. Once cover one bay and one the other. Both have SMB marker buoys so you can spot one another..

Do not shoot fish for the sake of it, it is senseless and stupid. We take home what we kill and feed our family, we don’t shoot fish and discard them every fish is eaten by us or our animals. So be mindful of being trigger happy.

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