Spearfish is a common name for four relatively long, thin species of of the marlin family.View 7 listings
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Where and When?
All spearfish are found in open water, usually fairly high in the water column, above the thermocline and the distribution varies from species to species with little overlap. The shortbill is most widely distributed, being found in the warmer water areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The longbill spearfish lives in the Atlantic ocean, mostly between 40 degrees north and 34 degrees south, including the Caribbean Sea, while roundscale spearfish may be found in the eastern Atlantic from Portugal southwards to the North African coast and penetrating the western Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean spearfish can be caught throughout this sea and particularly in waters around Italy. One common factor with all spearfish is that they are nowhere common and mostly unpredictable in terms of movements and presence. They are most often caught accidentally as “bycatch” by marlin anglers and, unfortunately, also by long-line commercial fishermen and this is reducing spearfish abundance. They can be caught throughout the year but most spearfish are caught in spring with the months of April and May being most consistent. Most spearfish caught recreationally are caught in daytime. The two main localities for targeted spearfish recreational fishing are the Hawaiian Islands, concentrating on Kona, and the Mediterranean Sea and Portuguese coast.
Spearfish are members of the Istiophoridae family, along with the marlins, while similar-looking name belong to a closely related Xiphiidae family. Four species of spearfish are currently recognised, the shortbill spearfish (Tetrapturus angustirostris), longbill spearfish (T. pfleugeri), roundscale spearfish (T. georgii) and the Mediterranean spearfish (T. belone). All are generally blue/dark blue above, blending down the sides to silvery undersides. They have large eyes and mouths with no obvious teeth but strong pointed bills that are elongations of the upper jaw. The shortbill spearfish has the shortest bill while the Mediterranean spearfish is the largest spearfish, attaining 240 cm. (94 in.) and 70 kg. (150 lbs.). The roundscale spearfish reaches a maximum of 184 cm. (72 in.) and 21.5 kg. (47 lbs.) while, in size, the other species fit between these two. One can distinguish spearfish from marlin by their vents, which are well forward from the front of the anal fin, and their dorsal fins, which are higher than marlin but not as high as sailfish. They are all top predators of the open waters of the oceans in which they occur and feed mostly on fish but will take squid.
How to Catch?
Spearfish are open water species and all angling is carried out by boat. They are generally not as large, or well known, as the marlins and sailfish but there is still a robust and enthusiastic group of sport anglers who target these fish. Unfortunately, all the four species are almost nowhere abundant or reliable enough to allow targeted recreational angling. Most spearfish are probably caught “accidentally” by billfish anglers but in the two spearfish hotspots mentioned above there are several charters who specialise in spearfish. Local knowledge is critically important and, even then when everything possible has been done, it appears that spearfish can suddenly vanish from an area. Although spearfish are typically smaller than marlin, it is best to use high-quality medium or heavy tackle. You do not want to miss the one decent spearfish strike or, indeed, lose a massive marlin due to your tackle being too light. While live and dead bait can produce results, most spearfish fishing is carried out trolling using artificial lures. “Jets” and “bullets”, called “chuckers” in Hawaii, are popular and relatively successful and while many colours may or may not work, blues, yellow and pink are among the most often used. Relatively few anglers have caught spearfish and the capture of a good specimen is no mean feat and well worth the effort.