By Dr. Ashley Hoyt, as published in Island Jane Magazine, Feb. 2015
The ocean is a great mystery to many people. While we are familiar with it, its life, its culture and its dynamics are still so foreign.
My experience is very different. Mine is of a warm, flowing world full of living creatures as conscious and curious as the rest of us.
Through experience I learned that the way to capture a fish is to be calm, serene and focused. Any sudden movement, even a flash of sudden emotion, could send a signal to creatures for yards in all directions.
Success in spearfishing requires finding peace. When I enter the water I seek that peace, I get comfortable in the waters, my mind grows quiet and I simply observe. As I dive there’s no sign of distress to alert the environment. The calmer I am, the longer I can remain submerged. My body relaxed and mind clear, my sole focus is my aim. I look where to shoot. Then, I get the fish.
I remember the hunters back in my Missouri home. I’d see the bubba boys gathered around the gas station with dead deer strapped to their trucks, swapping stories from the wilderness. When I became a spearfisher in Key West it finally made sense. This is not fishing – it is hunting.
Spearfishing becomes a meditative art of remaining calm and collected with singular focus. Just as hunters immerse themselves in the woods, I commune with an element not my own. I become subservient to the ocean.
I remember a particular occasion when a barracuda joined me on the hunt. As it approached it began to swim parallel to me. I realized by its demeanor that it saw me as a fellow hunter. If an ocean predator approaches at a perpendicular angle they indicate that they view the target as a threat or even prey. But by coming alongside me it told me that I was an ally, a fellow predator and was willing to cede its hunting ground.
This is the zen of spearfishing. Peace brings success, and calm yields respect. We become just another fish in the wide ocean.