Unlike anything you’ll find on outdoor television today, “Spear Life” is a documentary style series that blends spearfishing with travel, local culture, history and more. There are plenty of challenges for hunters and anglers who have their feet firmly planted on the ground or in a boat, however, diving increases the level of difficulty immensely. Of the three man team, Jon says that friend and co-host Gary Zumwalt is the true diving and spearfishing pro. Gary’s diving and spearfishing awards, accolades, and nearly 50 years of experience make him a valuable member of the team. Together hosts Jon, Gary and Coby Treasure dive, spearfish and even explore underwater shipwrecks. The show provides an incredible view of what it’s like to target fish under the water with a speargun, but it also allows the hosts to provide an interesting historical perspective of what is hidden on the ocean floor.
Jon says there is a lot more to spearfishing than swimming around and slinging shafts. A certain level of precision shooting, caution and awareness all have to be present. Having a stringer full of fish can attract unwanted attention from aquatic predators like sharks. Jon says situations like that are fairly common and it really comes down to experience and learning to read body language in order to navigate a situation like that. If a shark is coming in relaxed, they generally don’t encounter any issues. However, if a shark comes in arcing its body or darting around like it’s going to make a move to get to your stringer, that’s more of an issue. Usually a good poke with the spear gun will resolve the problem. Once you’ve shot a fish, you have to stay on your toes. If not immediately dispatched, a strong fish could take you for a potentially dangerous ride. Jon talks about spearfishing in 70 feet of water and contending with a strong cobia. The biggest thing about a fish dragging you around is watching your depths, he says, you don’t want it dragging you up or down too fast or making a run for deep water. Keying in specifically on diving around the offshore waters of Mississippi near oil rigs and platforms, Jon talks about the amazing underwater sights there and also the things divers have to be aware of when spearfishing deep waters.
When it comes to the equipment and taking the shot, Jon says the effective range of a speargun depends on the shooter, the gun and whether you are shooting lineshaft or freeshaft. Most of what viewers will see on “Spear Life” is lineshaft, Jon says, meaning when you shoot, the line is attached to your gun. You want to get as close as possible to the fish you are targeting. Jon says he likes to get within 3 to 5 feet if possible, however, 10 to 12 foot shots aren’t out of the question. Freeshaft fishing is a lot of fun, he says, however the caveat is you lose a lot of shafts. The benefit is that you can shoot further, you don’t have to mess with your line and it’s easier to reload. Not planting a killing shot on a fish though can lead to that fish swimming off with your shaft.
Outside of showing what it’s like to hunt for fish in their own environment, “Spear Life” also offers an intriguing look at history. The three man team dives and explores a different ship wreck in every episode and highlights its history and fate. Jon says it’s cool to dive down and look at a wreck that went down 100 years ago and find out what happened to it. He discusses a trip to North Carolina in particular where they are diving at a Civil War era wreck, looking at artifacts like cannon balls, pottery and more that have been sitting on the ocean floor for a long time. Sites and wrecks like these go largely unknown and undiscovered for many people and “Spear Life” offers viewers a first hand look at these interesting underwater sites.
Catch “Spear Life” on Outdoor Channel, Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. ET. Be sure to check out all of the other air times as well! Put some more adventure in your outdoor pursuits this year!