New York Spearfishing, A Guide for 2023
Updated: Jul 5
Spearfishing is rapidly growing in the United States, and New York offers adventure seekers the opportunity to spearfish Striped Bass, Tautog (Blackfish), Black Sea Bass, Flounder, and more. Spearfishing is an amazing way to connect intimately with the ocean and your food, and it's one of the most selective and sustainable forms of fishing. If you're interested in learning more about Spearfishing in New York, you've come to the right place, read on.
Is spearfishing Legal In New York
You're allowed to spearfishing in New York's marine and coastal waters as of 2013 from senate bill S382C. You must possess a New York saltwater fishing license, which you can purchase for $50.00 for one year if you are a non-resident and $25.00 if you're a resident. You can also purchase less expensive shorter licenses. New York fishing licenses can be bought at the Department of Environmental Conversation website here. You may the bill that allows spearfishing in New York here.
Fish you can spear in New York
Black Sea Bass
Always check the state fishing website before you go to be sure you are following the most current fishing regulations, which can be found on the Marine Fisheries Departmental Website here.
Where to spearfish in New York
New York has plenty of places to spearfish. Structure and rocks are important when scouting new spots for spearfishing. More important is safety. Boat traffic, strong currents, and swells can be deadly. Be sure to use tools like Windfinder to check current, swell, and tides, and always use a dive flag to indicate to boaters you are in the water.
Montauk is a premier destination for Spearfishing and is one of the best spots in the world for spearfishing Striped Bass. Visibility ranges from 5 feet to 30 feet with the average visibility being about 10 feet. Montauk also offers good shore diving spots where you don't need a boat. Finding spots by identifying structure on Google Earth is a good way to start. In this video you can see firsthand what it's like spearfishing off Montauk.
Block Island is the best place in the world to spearfish Striped Bass, and offers some of the most productive spearfishing on the East Coast. With massive schools of Striped Bass, huge Blackfish, and Black Sea Bass, it's a dream destination for any spearfisherman. Spots can range from 10 feet to 80 feet deep and beyond. Strong currents and challenging waters to navigate put Block Island as an advanced place for spearfishing.
Smithtown bay is another good spot in New York for spearfishing. During the Spring when the sand eels come in for their spawn, Fluke are plentiful, in addition to Tautog (Blackfish). Visibility ranges from 3 feet to 15 feet on most days, making finding good visibility a key factor in your dive. The bottom near the shore is mainly sand, so there isn't a ton of sightseeing, but Smithtown bay does have artificial reefs that are accessible by boat.
how to start spearfishing in New York
Spearfishing is a healthy and selective way to start harvesting your own food. The best way to start spearfishing is to get comfortable being in the water, first by swimming, then snorkeling, and ultimately spearfishing. There are free-diving courses, which can help increase your breath-hold and dive to depths of 60 feet and beyond. Once you feel comfortable in the water, then learning local fishing regulations and getting your gear is the next step. We wrote a guide on how to pick the right spearfishing gear, which you can read here.
Spearfishing Equipment for New York
low profile mask
speargun or polespear
Best time of year to spearfish in New York
You can get wetsuits that are suited for near freezing temperatures, so the best time to spearfish in New York is more dependent on the fish you are targeting and the clarity of the water. Generally, people spearfish in Spring through Fall with the better visibility occurring in Spring and Fall. Fluke are more prevalent in the Spring when the eel spawn is occurring, and Blackfish and Striper start showing in Spring and are usually in the area until early Fall.
Is spearfishing safe
Spearfishing can be safe when proper training and protocols are met. The biggest risk in spearfishing is from shallow water blackout, which is when a diver loses consciences. Freedive training can reduce the risk of shallow water black out, but having a properly trained and attentive dive buddy is the most crucial part of spearfishing safety. If a diver experiences a shallow water blackout, a trained dive buddy will help the blackout victim to make a full recovery.
Just because you are not located in a tropical climate with clear blue water, does not mean you can't learn to spearfish. And, once you go a few times, you'll never look at the ocean the same! If you are interested in learning more about spearfishing of would like to have a one on one guided spearfishing experience, you can visit www.spearfishingRI.com.