The most difficult thing with hunting John Dory is being able to actually locate them. It can be strenuous diving as it usually involves diving on deeper weed lines around the 12 -15m mark. There is a lot of up and down work and moving along the weed line to ensure that you are covering enough ground. For this reason, especially with deeper weed line diving – it is imperative that you dive with a buddy and practise the ‘one-up one-down’ rule. Remember to also watch your recovery times to allow your body to properly flush out excess Co2.
John Dory hunt on the weed lines where the weed meets the sand – the more distinct the division of weed and sand the better for hunting them. They are nearly impossible to see from the surface because their bodies are so thin and compressed and they have excellent camouflage capabilities. It is best to dive down and lie on the sand so that you can see them at eye level or notice any movement that might give them away. It’s usually their shape or long pectoral or dorsal fins that give them away – as well as the distinct eye-like target on the side of their bodies.
New spearos might take a while before they start to run into John Dory and see them on a regular basis. It does take a bit of time to develop the necessary skills to enable you to notice them and pick them out. One indicator that might signal their presence is schooling baitfish or smaller fish as these are hunted by John Dory so are most likely to be close by or at least not too far off.
Using burley is not a conventional way to bring in John Dory – but they are attracted to it occasionally, particularly fish burley such as salmon burley. They are also known to be attracted to flasher rigs
which can mimic the shimmering of the smaller baitfish which they hunt. Using both will bring them in and enhance your chances of landing one.
John Dory are relatively easy to shoot if approached properly from above. They do not seem to spook easily, unless you track them excessively with your speargun or take too long with your shot. Occasionally they do offer broadside shots, but the more common reaction from the John Dory, when approached is to turn away from you – using its thin compressed body to try and camouflage itself.
Sometimes stabbing a John Dory with your spear (not even firing the spear) can aid in bringing in other fish species such as kingfish. The John Dory can give off a croaking sound when injured which attracts other pelagic fish – which may help you land one more for the pot.