|Hunting the deep|
Richard Justice had hunted, fished and scuba dived all of his life.
When the 32-year-old League City resident began thinking about combining his passions, he looked offshore.
“I combined all of them together and went spearfishing,” he said. “It’s like spot and stalk bow hunting in the water.”
His first trip into the blue water was last July 4, and he has been going monthly ever since.
“The first two trips I went scuba diving,” Justice said. “I decided that was too much stuff to take, so I tried free diving and I haven’t touched a tank since.”
Justice said he consistently dives down 50 feet to search for the fish near rigs that spear fishermen covet — wahoo, amberjack, snapper, jacks, mahi-mahi and ling.
“When you are free diving, the fish are a little more curious then with a tank,” he said. “But you don’t have to be able to dive really deep. I’ve shot multiple 40-pound ling while still breathing through my snorkel.”
When Justice was first getting into the sport, he hooked up with one of the best spearfishing guides in Texas — Keith Love of Texas Bluewater Safaris.
“It’s definitely a growing sport,” Love said. “On a calm day, you will now see guys at the marina with rigs.”
The 27-year-old from Angleton said the maximum range he shoots fish is 15 feet.
“If you have to aim, you are too far,” he said. “We hunt the rigs but a lot of the bluewater fish won’t come right into the rigs. They hang 50-100 yards off the rigs, but there is still plenty to shoot on the rigs — sheepshead and red snapper.
“Cobia will swim right up to you.”
Love’s biggest fish is a 245-pound yellowfin tuna. Once a fish is shot, the spear is connected to a buoy on top of the water that detaches from the gun.
“Once you let the shot go, it detaches from you,” Love said.