Hint: It’s not by turning your gun sideways
A large fish comes into range. I aim and prepare for a fight. I shoot. The fish is dead. How did that happen?
Better question – How can I do that again?
Anatomy of a kill shot
More commonly called a stone shot. When you shoot a fish and it goes lifeless like a stone. You’ll hear guys say they stoned a fish. To stone a fish your shot needs to break the spine or hit the brain. The closer to the brain your shot is along the spine the more mobility the fish will lose. If you tag it right at the base of the skull where the spine connects you are doing it right. It’s like hitting the off button.
How to find the spine
Don’t worry, you don’t need X-ray vision to see the fish’s spine. As discussed in Spearfishing Ambush, fish have a line of nerves along both sides of their bodies called the lateral lines. They use them to feel vibrations in the water. It’s an extra sense all fish have. That nerves of the lateral lines connect directly to the spine all along the length of the fish. It looks like a doted line. See the diagrams below. Arrow marks the lateral line and ‘X’ marks the ideal shot.
To hit ‘X’ you have to be close
On longer shots you have a better chance of hitting the fish mid body. When the fish hears your speargun go off it will try to speed up or change direction. If you aim for ‘X’ from too far you will miss. Only aim for ‘X’ when the fish is close and relaxed.
Bone breaking power
Since you are going for bone breaking shots you are going to need bone breaking power. On small fish most spearguns will work fine. The bigger the fish the more powerful the gun should be.
Why this matters
Spearfishing is one of the most sustainable ways of fishing. Shooting and then not landing a fish is wasteful. If we aim for the perfect shot we not only increase our chances of landing that fish, we also greatly reduce trauma to the tasty meat.
Try to stone a fish next time you are out. If you can stone it and get it on video send me a link and I’ll post it up for everyone else to see.