“Everywhere we jumped, we saw them,” Menendez said. “The dolphin are spookier the bigger they are. The little ones will go all around you.”
Spearguns, even large blue water models like the men were using, have their limitations. Their range is only about 10-15 feet.
Alvarez, 45, a skilled blue water hunter since childhood, can hold his breath for up to two minutes and hunts comfortably in waters 80 feet deep. His best catch is a 240-pound yellowfin tuna speared last March off Panama.
“The bigger the fish is, the closer you have to get because you have to penetrate more and they are going to pull quite hard,” he said. “You gotta be super calm, super comfortable in the water. Try not to make a lot of bubbles when you dive. Keep your gear tucked in — not pointed at them and charging. It looks like a big billfish chasing them down.”
Alvarez is so-so about wearing a camouflage wetsuit when spear hunting. But he’s sold on super-long and light carbon-fiber fins and a low-volume mask.
By the middle of the afternoon, the crew had racked up 20 dolphin and headed back to Islamorada. They had taken the two largest fish on rod-and-reel while the smaller ones were speared. No one had any problem with the mixed strategy; they just didn’t want to go home with an empty cooler.
“Today we had a combination,” Menendez said. “We used the rods part of the time to hold the mahi and try to keep them around. We’d have one flopping around on the spear and his buddies hanging out, so in that way, it’s like angling.”
Boesel and Menendez documented the adventure with plenty of underwater video and stills — sure to be a big hit at the next South Florida Freedivers meeting.