Louisiana has a unique set of circumstances that make it a spearfishing paradise. The Mississippi River is the single largest source of nutrients in North America and it’s pouring into the Gulf of Mexico where we have 1000’s of the most effective artificial reefs man has ever made, Oil and Gas platforms. The result is an unbelievable fishery with many visiting divers taking fish on an average trip that would be a remarkable catch in their home waters. If you come spearfish in Louisiana you will definitely want to adapt your gun for this environment. Local divers have come up with many unique ways of rigging there gun as well as the actual gun selection to minimize losing fish as well as losing guns and bending shafts. Here are some tips to help you land more fish and not destroy your gun.
Gun Selection You’re going to need a powerful spearfishing gun. Even if it’s not very long it’s going to have to pack a punch. 3/8″ diameter shafts are a must anything smaller will be bent like a pretzel with the first 30 lb. fish that wraps your line and shaft around a rig leg. We recommend J.B.L. and Riffe guns. 9 out of 10 Louisiana divers hunt with one because they work! An oil rig is a vertical reef and fish are not always approached on a 90 degree angle like you would normally on a reef say in Florida. It’s not often you’re going to be able to take your time and line up a nifty little kill shot straight through the side of the fish’s head. You’re going to need power to drive your 3/8″ shaft though this fish’s skull from odd angles and a wimpy Mako or A.B. Biller isn’t going to get it done.
Gun Setup All we use is Stainless Steel aircraft cable (soft) 3/32″ is most popular with a few divers opting for 1/16″ diameter. Mono, Spectra, Dyneema, and Nylon will not hold up and you will lose your shaft, tip, and fish. With that said we do use Spectra and Dyneema with our reels but have a Stainless Steel cable leader and have had good success with that. Three power bands,preferably 5/8″ but 9/16″ will do, and some divers go with two 5/8 bands on some smaller guns with limited success.
Riding Rig Now this is truly a spearfishing Rig divers set up. A Riding rig is a length of rope usually about 1/2″ or 5/8″ diameter that is attached to your shooting line. On the other end of the rope is a large loop big enough to easily pass your hand through and a brass clip as well. When the diver is hunting the Riding rig is in one hand and the grip of the gun in the other. When a fish is speared the spear is totally free of the gun, allowing the diver to work the fish using the large rope, while keeping his gun safe from being ripped out of his hands. If a fish is unmanageable the diver can try to wrap the rope around a nearby pipe and clip it off with the brass clip, allowing the diver to return for the fish later when it is not so fired up. If the diver can’t handle the fish, and cannot get to a pipe the riding rig can be dropped and lost and the diver will only have to replace his spear setup and not a whole new gun. The diver can keep a spare shaft setup on the boat and can be back in action for the next rig.
Reel on gun Here the gun has a line reel like on a fishing rod. After spearing a fish, the reel unwinds, allowing the spearfisher room to play the fish. Reels are popular for hunting the rigs while freediving within the structure of the rig. A buoy and it’s necessary float line are likely to get entangled on the rig legs and can cause you more problems than help. We rig our reels with Spectra, or Dyneema and have two wraps of S.S. cable as leader and this setup has worked well with fish of up to 90 to 100 lb.s being taken and the line holding up well.
Floats and Bungee Cords The oil and gas rigs also attract many Pelagic species like Wahoo and Tuna. Divers with typical setups for Bluewater diving will find their equipment well suited for our area, although you can many times be hunting in 400′ + or even 4000’+ ft of water so a good set of buoys is a must.