World-record holder Sheri Daye is extremely handy with a spear. She travels all over the globe to feed her passion for spearfishing, but she took a few minutes out of her schedule to answer some questions about the sport for us in the latest rendition of Fishin’ Chicks.
Q: Where is home for you and is that where you do most of your spearfishing?
A: I live in Boca Raton, Florida, and I do most of my spearfishing between the Florida Keys and Stuart, Florida, but I have always enjoyed traveling. As the host of Speargun Hunter I’ve gotten to go to places like Louisiana, California, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Bahamas, and more.
Q: Tell us about Speargun Hunter.
A: It’s a TV show that I host on the Outdoor Channel (outdoorchannel.com/Shows/
SpeargunHunter). The new season just started airing in January, and we are preparing to film our seventh season. We visit with different spearfishing enthusiasts across the world, a lot of them are my friends, and we hunt in their backyards, so that keeps it interesting.
Q: How did you get into the sport?
A: I’ve been a certified SCUBA diver since I was in high school, but I didn’t get into spearfishing until about 15 years ago. I was diving with a friend who was spearfishing and I was pointing out fish for him. I decided to buy my own speargun and have been spearing ever since. I like it all — SCUBA diving, tech diving, freediving, spearing, slinging, polespearing…
Q: I’ve seen you with some very impressive catches. What are some of your memorable fish?
A: The fish I remember most are not always the most impressive looking in photos. Some big fish were relatively easy to spear, and some smaller ones were really difficult. For example, I remember getting a “mu” and an “uku” in Hawaii. They are not big fish, but they are very stealthy and require a long breath-hold before they will allow you to get near them. It takes more skill and finesse and determination to get these fish than a big tuna. But, a big tuna can kill you if you don’t handle it correctly. I’ve gotten a few world records, and I won’t lie, it does feel great to land a big fish and those were all memorable!
Q: How do you prepare yourself before a trip?
A: It’s good to have a checklist before going out, even locally. There’s nothing worse than forgetting that your gun needed a new band or forgetting your wetsuit pants or some other piece of equipment. I also try to get rest, drink water and avoid coffee before freediving. If I’m going on a serious trip and hunting for big-game, I go over every piece of equipment and check every detail down to the crimps and knots. It’s shameful to lose a beautiful fish because you didn’t prepare correctly.
Q: What kind of gear do you use?
A: The things I’m picky about are my wetsuit and spearguns. Being cold or uncomfortable is not good for performance, so I use Yazbeck wetsuits made with Yamamoto material. I am also partial to Wong spearguns, because they give me a sense of confidence that I am going to hit whatever I aim at. They are custom made in Hawaii by Daryl Wong (wongspearguns.com).
Q: Ever had any close calls in the water?
A: Sure… I’ve almost been hit by boats despite being clearly marked by a dive flag. I’ve had sharks that got aggressive, but only one where I felt it was a close call. I have never blacked out while freediving, but there were times where I felt I pushed it too far. I’ve rescued two people that blacked out. That’s the biggest threat we face as freedivers. If anyone wants to learn freediving, I highly recommend they take a class and dive with a buddy.
Q: What’s it feel like when you make that perfect shot?
A: Hard to describe, but it’s what keeps us coming back — the quest for the perfect dive and the perfect shot on the perfect fish. It’s probably similar to what a golfer, tennis player, basketball player, or any other athlete feels when they make a “perfect shot.” It might look easy, but it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and practice. The difference with spearfishing is that you have something great to eat afterward, so you get to enjoy it twice.
Q: What would be your advice to other ladies that want to give spearfishing a go?
A: I always advice people to just try it. If they enjoy the experience, they will stick with it, because it’s an addictive sport. My advice to anyone, man or woman, is if you do like it, join a club, get a mentor, and learn from others. The sport’s fun, healthy, and you don’t have to be super athletic to enjoy it. We have great instructors and products on the market now. But please know that we also abide by a strict code of ethics. As underwater hunters, we love and respect nature, and we like the fact that spearfishing is an honorable, selective and challenging sport.
Q: Got any big trips planned for 2012?
A: For the Speargun Hunter series, we’ll probably go to California and hunt for white sea bass again and then we’ll go to the Texas oil rigs, and we’ve been invited to the Red Sea.
Q: Sounds cool, any other projects you’re working on?
A: I’ve been working on “The Blue Wild” Dive Expo, a diving/spearfishing expo that I started running five years ago. It was so successful that I’ve been running it every year since. It takes place in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and we have a great time with marine artists, exhibitors, speakers, and a giant raffle. We’re planning the next one, so stay tuned! (For more info visit thebluewild.com)