Spearfishing Islamorada

Fishing Charters Florida Keys with Captain Rick Killgore

800 - 698 - 5773  (305 - 852 -1131),   &   E-MAIL (Click Here)   rick@fish-killgore.com

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 "Spearfishing Fish Bags" (Click here to view)

My friend Sean and I spear some nice fish (Pat Caddell takes the photo).

That is a 9.75 lb. hogfish I shot with a Hawaiian sling along with a couple 2 - 3 pound hogfish. Sean got that nice +15lb. black grouper, and a 6.5 pound hogfish.

" Black grouper are tricky to spear - hard to approach! "

I saw this 20 pound black grouper at the end of my dive. It swam behind a big rock. As I approached I was not sure it was still there. I came in over the rock and saw its back, so I took a blind shot over the rock pointing down and toward the head.

 It thrashed everywhere. I thought it was going to get away. I couldn't get a hold of it: into a hole and out again just as fast. Then it darted right by me, and stopped briefly about 12 feet away. I pounced on the shaft pinning it to the bottom and put the "death grip" on it. I finally got it by the throat latch, 110 feet on the bottom. My heart was pounding...heaving on compressed air!

 I started up immediately at a controlled rate with it still thrashing me. I was 4 minutes from deco when I first saw him. I knew I was close, if not in the "red." I was ok when I checked 20' up, but I kept coming up to about 50'. As I stuck it in the head with my kill knife, two 30 pound kingfish swam right by me - wow! What a dive, it started out with some big muttons in 95' that I could not get close too then ended like this.

One day my wife and I went out scuba diving and spear fishing for a half day, leaving at 12pm. On the way out we ran over a large school of pilchards and filled the live well with 700 pilchards, so I knew we were going for tunas after my dive.

I jump in the water and as I descend I come across a big rock with a big black Margate. I resist the urge to go spear it, then I see him - a nice black grouper. He slowly hides in the rock, my heart jumps a little, I now know I have a good chance to spear it. As I approach a 10 lb. mutton snapper swims around the corner then turns to go back around. Stay on target I tell myself.

As I come up to the rock, my heart is thumping! Gun out in front of me ready to shoot, going around where he entered, I see his tail and then his back side. I take a gamble! I turn the tip of the gun around that corner to take a blind/ estimated shot at him, instead of actually seeing where I was shooting. I did not want him to see me, and spook out.

Bam! - he did not move! Did I miss? I grab the shaft, and it's solid in him! It is a kill shot, right behind the gill plate. "Yeah!" I yell in my regulator. I had yet to shoot a grouper in two years. They are very smart. They know how to blend in to the rocks, and bolt at the right time keeping plenty of distance from you.

This 15lbs. black grouper gave me a great fight on the end of the leash. I had to chase it around a big coral head it swam around. I wrestle it down and grab it by the throat latch. Pinning it down to the rocks I grabbed my kill knife and buried it into it's spine. Kicking hard to get leverage up against the rocks, I struggled to break it's spine. Finally I paralyzed it. My heart was pounding. What a rush of adrenaline. Down about 80 feet, by myself, compressed air pumping my lungs, I wrestled with this fish.

I prefer my "Spear Fishing Fish Bag" verses other stringers and fish rings. My wife, who does marine canvas, makes this unique fish bag that I have designed which I deploy and drag behind me after spearing my first fish. It works while scuba diving or free diving.  Ask me about them, and how they work.

Here are a few reasons I like my spear fishing "fish bag." 1) It minimizes the scent trail. 2) It hides the fish. 3) It gets the fish away from my body (6 to 12 feet). 4) I can quickly load the fish into the bag. 5) It has a measuring device. 6) It virtually does not snag on the bottom, but bounces along or floats a little. 7) It is easily stowed in BC or weight belt before deployed. 8) It is easy to pass the all the fish up to boat. 9) It can be rigged for free diving floating or dragging so you do not need to swim back to boat or have boat disturb area while picking up the fish from spear fisherman.

To buy "Capt. Killgore's Spearfishing Fish Bags,"  call or email:

800 - 698 - 5773  (305 - 852 -1131),   &   E-MAIL (Click Here)



Another good dive with my friend, Pat Caddell. Mutton snapper are hard to get close to for a shot.


A nice day diving and shooting a few nice hogfish.

This was a good dive. A couple nice hogfish and a big yellow jack.

I really like spear fishing yellow jacks. Typically it is a long shot, and must be made quickly as they swim by fast. They put up a good fight too, strong and powerful. You got to wrestle them down quickly, or they'll wrap you up so you got to be quick getting down the leash to the spear shaft. Grab their throat latch and hold on. Pin them to the bottom so they do not drag you up risking injury. Then put your knife into it's brain to kill it. Do not try to paralyze it by breaking its spine. It is large like a grouper and hard to break.

 I think I'm going to get a second knife on my BC shoulder strap incase I get wrapped up and can not get my knife on my leg.

A couple nice mangrove snapper which can be tricky to approach while spear fishing. That's a big white margate and a few smaller hogfish.

Notice how the throat latches are broken. That is the Costa Rican way in quickly paralyzing fish. Break or cut the latch and then bend the head back until it breaks their spines. Much faster than the kill knife in the spine or the head.

It is not good to have a shaking, vibrating fish on your stringer or in your bag.


We've had some good trips this year. Tony Morrelo came down with his girl friend and had a good couple dives. They shot hogfish, muttons and a nice yellow jack. I caught a couple cero mackerel to add to their fish cooler while I followed their buoy while they made the drift dives. That is the best way to spear fish and very few people do it because not many people will follow the spear fishermen in the water with the boat.

My first dive back from Costa Rica, and I get 8 hogfish on the first dive, best I've ever done. Second dive, all I encounter is this big mangrove snapper. My buddy Dave Onstad shoots a keep red grouper to add to the bag.

I'm not sure camouflage helps, but it makes for a cool picture. I wish it had some bright orange in there for when I'm free diving and on the surface so other boats could see me better.

I was due for a wet suite, so I thought I'd try it. It cost the same. It might help If you get to the bottom, do not move much, and surprise a fish coming around a coral head; or in open water around a floating obstruction. I'll find out the more I use it.

Pat Caddell with a nice mangrove snapper. Another look at that 9 3/4 lb. hogfish.


My wife catches a nice dolphin between our dives along with a small sporty summer kingfish. I add a couple nice hogfish to the cooler too. My nephews join me on the hunt, for their first spear fishing experience. I get a small black grouper, and a couple small hogfish on a Hawaiian sling.

Teaching kids spearfishing is what a lot of young men dream about. It is their next step into manhood. Young men love spearfishing. The power and responsibility is step in maturity. Safety is imperative, and it has a lot more to do than just where you are pointing the speargun.

Blake was very excited. It was his best day spearfishing hogfish.

Here we are with the total catch. My young nephews, Eddy and Bennett, with their first fish they speared while free diving, and Blake and I and our hogfish we got while scuba diving. Blake also got a nice dog snapper too. Elena was the diligent captain once again.

We also catch fish between dives for the fish box. I caught this kingfish while eating lunch and chumming up ballyhoo for bait. Typically we catch cero mackerel, which are great fighters and good eating too. Or, we'll slow troll live baits along the edge of the reef for cero mackerel, yellow jacks, kingfish, even dolphin, yellowtail snappers, and hopefully a sailfish.

Another look at one of the groupers.

Sponsored by A.B. Biller

I've been using this 54" Limited A.B. Biller Spear Gun with solid teak stock for two years now, and it is awesome! It is very accurate. I have made shots on yellow jacks and cero mackerels up to 10 feet away (or more). It is easy to load the bands, where my friend really has one shot per dive because he has such a hard time loading the bands he admitted to me this year. The safety latch is very easy to feel if it is on or off. I have it rigged up with #300 mono in a "speed load" set up. I have all the tools for that, so I rigged it up that way. It's what I like. I also like that it floats without a shaft verses metal guns that sink. When I'm reloading my gun while scuba diving, it is right over my head stretching out the leash which keeps it from tangling around my body. If I did not have a leash, I would not want it to be able to float away, so fitting a lead in the handle would be the thing to do.

I want to have a solid stock straight through the trigger which makes for a more solid gun. This is best I feel for a few reasons. If you want to rig your gun up for spear fishing offshore where a buoy is attached to the butt of your gun this is best. If you end up pulling on a big fish from the butt of your gun, which I do not recommend because you can loose the fish by it fighting its way off the spear any time. I like to grab the fish right away in the gills, using the leash to pull and swim toward the fish. But if you have to hold on to the butt, at least you're not relying on a couple screws in the trigger holding the butt and stock together like a three piece gun. Finally, over time I have seen the plastic trigger of a three piece gun get loose or have flex, which creates questions of strength or other problems in the future in my mind. The solid stock does not have that reliance on plastic and screws holding all three pieces together.


  ( 10/13/2012 02:59 PM )