Last updated on May 15, 2024

You are a passionate diver. You’re also an avid fisherman. But have you ever thought about combining both hobbies? Spearfishing, i.e. free diving with a harpoon, is such a combination.

Photo: emeraldfreediving.com
Photo: emeraldfreediving.com


Unlike in Germany, spearfishing is allowed in Ireland – even for vacationers.

However, you should know a few things before you start – and you can learn them in a little vacation course.

Where? In Ireland of course!

By the way, we live in Ireland (second home) and run our motorcycle rental business here during the summer months (www.easycruiser.tours). We also have nice guest rooms. We have traveled the island again and again over many years and therefore know it very well.

Let’s take a closer look at spearfishing below. But first I have a good YouTube video for you to check out: Hunting big Pollock and Bass at wild marks in the Atlantic (Spearfishing in Ireland) by JAck Metcalfe.

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Spearfishing in Ireland – Introduction

In Germany everything is forbidden. Except, it is expressly permitted – and then one needs for it a driver’s license, which becomes more expensive each year….

In Ireland you are allowed to do a lot of things, unless it is explicitly forbidden – so the Irish have the clearly cooler basic attitude.

Fishing with a harpoon is clearly forbidden in Germany. In Ireland everyone is allowed to fish with a harpoon in the sea, as long as he keeps to a few laws and regulations. So you too. You don’t need a fishing license and you don’t need a driving license. There are also no speed cameras around every corner – so you can swim as fast as you like 🙂

But it still makes sense to learn a few things from an experienced spearfisher before you go. By talking and diving together, you can learn a lot very quickly. Take a look at this YouTube video: Why you can’t hold your breath longer when spearfishing… by Daniel Mann.

About the sea, the tides and currents, about the rules you should follow, about how to use the harpoon and about the rich fish life around you, especially the fish you want to catch. In addition, you’ll learn quite a bit about free diving, the best gear to use, and the best tips for getting the most catches.

Photo: freediving.ie
Photo: freediving.ie

To my knowledge, there are few formal instructional courses on the subject, but rather 1:1 instruction from experienced spearfisher and apnea instructors. The “teaching style” in Ireland is mostly friendly and very informal – just like the Irish are. So a little “basic course” will not only make you smarter, but it is also a lot of fun.

Oh yes, the sea in Ireland is rather cool, so why not do the whole thing somewhere in the Caribbean, but in Ireland of all places?

Ireland’s Atlantic coast is not only breathtakingly beautiful, but also blessed with a surprisingly rich marine fauna and flora. So there is a very diverse fish life.

Even if you don’t catch anything, you’ll enjoy your free dives in the rugged cliffs with their anemones, sea anemones and diverse marine life.

Ireland is easy, fast and cheap to reach by plane. So even recurring vacations are no problem. So you can explore your own spots for yourself little by little.

The Irish are nice and helpful and speak English – everything super easy!

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Ireland is also very beautiful over water, especially on the wild Atlantic coast. Even traveling partners or family will get their money’s worth here.

Why am I talking about “here”? We have our second home in Ireland. In summer I run a motorcycle rental business here (www.easycruiser.tours). But I’m also a diver and used to do a bit of fishing. So back to the topic…

Important laws and regulations

There are a few things you should know and follow:

You may spearfish without a license using a rubber band harpoon.

Spearfishing is only allowed in the sea, not in inland waters.

Salmon and lake trout are specially protected and may not be harpooned.

There are size requirements for the different species, i.e. minimum sizes from which removal from the sea is allowed. Sea bass, for example, must be at least 40cm in size to be taken from the sea.

Detailed regulations can be found on the following pages of Spearfishing Ireland, and SubandCast.

Photo: emeraldfreediving.com
Photo: emeraldfreediving.com

Spearfishing is also free diving

Freediving or apnea diving is the basis of spearfishing. As a scuba diver you are not allowed to fish with a harpoon. Makes sense, that would be grossly unfair and unsportsmanlike to the fish.

You are a scuba diver but not an apnea diver? Me too – but I have learned to freedive a bit and have learned to appreciate and enjoy the new freedom!

You need much less equipment and carry much less stuff around with you. Also your vacation luggage will be much smaller and the search for tanks – filling stations is also eliminated.

Last but not least, you feel much more connected to the beautiful underwater world. Freediving is more natural, more pristine and you can move around much better.

Freediving also means not breathing and learning to breathe properly as a prerequisite! In order to dive well, you have to learn to relax – and that is really relaxing!

Last but not least it is more sportive, because you swim much further than with a bottle. We all move far too little in our everyday working lives – so why not take a sporty-exciting-beautiful vacation?

Be sure to check out this YouTube film: Freediving with an amazing Dolphin and Seal in Ireland, by E.Pender.

Yes, do I need a harpoon for that? The passionate fisherman will answer this question for himself…

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Equipment for spearfishing

Initially, to try it out, the warm wetsuit you already have will do, together with your ABC set and a weight belt.

However, freediving equipment makes a lot more sense for freediving – after all, that’s what it was gradually developed for. A mask with little interior space is particularly helpful, as is a suit that allows plenty of movement and the long fins that are optimised for apnoea diving.

So if you have freediving equipment, you’re already off to a good start. There are special camo-style suits and muted-coloured masks and fins for spearfishers, but “black always works”.

Make sure you buy a well-fitting suit for cool water temperatures, with a warm bonnet, warm booties and warm but flexible gloves. A freediving mask with snorkel, freediving fins and you’re almost ready to go…

You will also need a harpoon, a collecting net, a slim fish knife (dagger) and other accessories and utensils. Very important: an inflatable diving buoy or a small fishing raft.

Photo: freediving.ie
Photo: freediving.ie

Below you will find several sources of information where you can also get equipment recommendations.

I would recommend that you contact your instructor in advance and ask for equipment recommendations. The guys know what works best for their fish on their shores!

Spearfishing information and courses

Spearfishing Ireland and Nadir Spearfishing are both websites of the same people. You will find a lot of information about spearfishing on both sites, just have a look.

Sub and Cast offers spearfishing courses in County Clare, which is on the west coast, south of Galway. You will also find an online store on the site.

Another store you can find at Freedivershop. There you can buy apnea and spearfishing equipment.

Emerald Freediving is a freediving school on the west coast on the beautiful peninsula of Dingle. They also offer Spearfishing Skills on request – I assume they offer a program for you flexible according to your needs – just ask!

Freediving Ireland is a freediving school in Wicklow, south of Dublin. You can definitely learn freediving here. I couldn’t find anything about spearfishing on the website, but just call them, not everything is always on the homepage.

Freedive Northern Ireland is a freediving school in Portrush on the Causeway Coast. Also here Spearfishing is not on the homepage, but I would just ask. The trainer is originally from Germany (interesting, if you are German native).

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Did I give you a new idea? Spearfishing vacation in Ireland? Good, that was my intention.

If you feel the way we do, you’ll love the island – and come back again and again.

For scuba diving, for freediving, for spearfishing,’and there are many more options!

No matter what you do, I hope you have a great vacation in Ireland!

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(Cover photo credit: Photo by Cast & Spear on Unsplash )

Uli Written by:

Hello and welcome to my blog. Originating from Germany, my family and I now live in Ireland (at least part time). We have travelled this amazing isle many times and know many parts of it very well. In this blog, I would like to share valuabe tips and information for your next trip to Ireland with you. Enjoy the content, yours, Ulrich KnĂĽppel-Gertberg