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The Fishing Report: Spearfishing out of Homer

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 8:07 PM AKDT
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HOMER, Alaska (KTUU) - When most people think of freediving and spearfishing, visualizations of the clear blue waters in places like Hawaii or the Florida Keys are likely the first to come to mind -- not the cold waters of Southcentral Alaska.

Yet for the past several years, Brad Conley and a few Homer locals have been donning thick wetsuits and venturing out in pursuit of a more intimate way to find dinner.

“Being near the ocean it was kind of a given you know to get a wetsuit, go surfing, swimming, snorkeling, and eventually it donned on us -- let’s get some spearguns and see if we can go find halibut,” Conley said.

After several years of spearfishing just for fun, this summer marked the first time he incorporated spearfishing into the offerings of his Homer-based water taxi company Coldwater Alaska.

“The big difference, a lot of charter boats fish in deeper water. Big kelp forests where we’re at you can’t go set up in the middle of it, and I think just the approach is quite a bit different with the rod and reel,” Conley said. “The spearfishing element of it, we’ve got to look at some areas where we can find halibut, use chum or scent to bring them in or set up where halibut are at. But then we’ve also got to figure out areas where it’s safe to get in the water and swim. The current, the weather, everything -- it’s got to be a pretty controlled environment.”

Conley says that for most spearfishermen he has worked with, getting a Pacific halibut is a bucket list item.

“We’ve had a few people this year, they come up and they’re holding a 100-pound halibut,” Conley said. “It’s pretty hard to beat that.”

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