In a disaster, it’s the food that’s going to go first.
Far too many people are living day-to-day, week-to-week as if they’ve not yet grasped the problem. When the grid goes down, everything will stop. Everything. The butcher you rely on for meat will shut his doors. The supermarket shelves will be stripped bare. Truckers won’t be bringing in any new supplies, and that’s where things get a little scary.
If you don’t have a plan, it’s your family who will be hungry. Without a plan, you put your entire family at risk.
My name is Max Kelley, and I run Max Spearfishing. Those who know me all agree on one thing. I’m the crazy ocean guy. I’ve been exploring the sea since I could walk, and I’ve put in far more than my fair share of time on the ocean, catching fish, after fish, after fish. I’ve perfected a fishing technique known as “spearfishing” which is rather simple at first glance.
Armed with a speargun, I swim around reefs, wrecks, jetties and the open ocean, looking for fish to hunt. It’s the greatest sport alive. But not only that, it’s one of the most ecologically-friendly forms of fishing, because there’s no by-catch. I shoot legal-sized fish, taking home what I need to feed my family. Nothing more.
I’ve spent the better part of the last three decades in the water, and I’d like to share with you a little secret I’ve learned.
If you know what you’re looking for, the ocean will provide.
Before I jump into all the different foods you can find, let me give you a brief description about the sport. Spearfishing is precisely what it sounds like — Fishing with a spear. Except with spearfishing, you’re in the water with the fish. You’ve got a snorkel and mask, a pair of fins, your speargun, and a few other key pieces of gear. Instead of fishing from the shoreline, or from a boat, you’re swimming around, diving underwater, actively searching for the perfect fish to hunt. It’s also important to touch on the concept of safety. There are rules you should follow, like never spearfishing alone, and using a dive float to help boats see you in the water. Oh, and make sure to check your local regulations in case you need a fishing license, or if there are any protected areas to avoid.
Right, now onto the important part. The food. Here are a few of my favorite things to catch when I’m spearfishing.
First on the list (and most important), is the fish. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve walked in from a dive only to get shocked looks from all the beach fisherman. I’ve got two or three nice fish, and they’ve not had a bite.
Spearfishing gives you an edge. Line fishing needs a fish to be hungry. For me, I only need to see it. Then I can dive down, swim up on it, and land a perfect shot. Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that, but I can guarantee you this. Once you know how to sneak up on a fish, you’ll catch far more spearfishing than you would fishing from the shore. And a few extra fish a week could make all the difference when other protein isn’t in the cards. Just get out in the water and catch it.
Lobster has got to be one of my favorite kinds of seafood. And when it’s open season, you can snag these beauties all up and down the coast. When you’re spearfishing, make sure you’ve got a pair of thick gloves (for the spines), and look in the seaweed, cracks, caves, and crevices for the tell-tale antennae sticking out.
So long as the lobster doesn’t have room to escape, it’s just a matter of sticking your arm inside, grabbing hold of the shell (or the horns) and giving them a good “yank” to get them out. They’re quite strong, so don’t be scared to use a little force.
If you’re harvesting fresh seaweed you’re getting access to one of the most nutritious “vegetables” there is. High in minerals, protein, carbs, and vitamins, if you’ve pulled it live from the ocean, it’s typically pretty safe to eat. Though you may want to wash it with fresh water or cook it if you think it’s a little tough.
Personally, my favorite seaweed is known as sea lettuce. It looks exactly what it sounds like, a thin piece of bright-green lettuce growing on the reef and the rocks. Take your knife and cut a bunch. You can eat it raw, but I love mixing it in with a salad.
Do you like calamari? If so then octopus is for you. It’s a very similar taste, and you’ll usually find these guys hiding in the same caves and cracks on the reef where you’ve been looking for lobsters. Depending on your local regulations you can spear them, and they’re fantastic thrown on the grill with a little salt and pepper, then dipped in tartar sauce.
Despite the sharp, spiky spines, these are a fantastic addition to a seafood salad, and they’re also great on a bit of buttered toast. Plus, they’re virtually everywhere in some locations. The trick is to use gloves, so you’re not risking your hands, and when you do prepare them to clean out all the guts. What you want is the meat and roe (the orangey-red flesh clinging to the inside of the shell). Scoop it out with a teaspoon. It’s delicious.
Look for the large, hulking shells, and you’ve got abalone. You’ll need a knife or a small pry-bar to get it off the rock it’s holding to and make sure you’ve got the stamp card that’ll allow you to harvest it. You’re only allowed to take red abalone these days, but it goes great on a seafood pizza. One of my favorite dishes my wife makes.
In the aftermath of a crisis, you’re going to need all the food you can get. And for those of you who live anywhere near the ocean, it’s important you see it for what it is. A healthy supply of fresh food, right there for the picking. You only need a speargun, and a little gumption to get it. Can you tap the ocean as a food source?
Guest Post By Max Kelley
I live for the water. Chasing the next biggest fish. That perfect day on the ocean. The buzz that comes from coming face to face with true underwater giants. I’ve been hooked on spearfishing since I was 15, and have spent every spare weekend in my wetsuit, finding new dive sites, testing new gear, and honing my skills at this sport. It’s almost an obsession. I’d love to help you get involved in spearfishing, and maybe help you catch a fish or two in the process. Happy spearing!