One of the strongest international spearfishing champions, Gerasimos Kavvadias has been the Greek champion, third and fifth in the World Spearfishing championships. So much to learn from him and his story, so we have decided to ask him some questions, and as usual, some spearfishing secrets!
(by Valentina Prokic)
The start and icons of Gerasimos Kavvadias
Valentina Prokic: How and when did you start spearfishing? And why spearfishing and not some other sport? Did you have an idol or spearo legend that you loved especially?
Gerasimos Kavvadias: I started following my father, without a speargun in my hands, at the age of 4, back in 1986. Luckily in Corfu island those years spearfishermen didn’t have to dive beyond 10 meters to catch some fish and octopus, so I could enjoy all the underwater action from the surface. My first speargun was bought two years later. It was one of the happiest days of my life.
I can’t say that I chose spearfishing. I think the opposite happened and spearfishing chose me, and besides, what did I know back then? As only a little child I liked everything that included physical activity. Spearfishing was the only sport that attracted me so much all the time. I practised for many years other sports like tennis, basketball and soccer. I slept and dreamt about hunting fish. What is worrying is that these dreams still occur every once in a while!
I can’t say that I had, consciously at least, any idol. But I belong to the generation of spearo kids that grew up with this iconic poster of Cressi with Renzo Mazzari lifting a big grouper. This image was very catchy for the eyes and imagination of a young kid and I think it played its role in my evolution as a spearo. When I was a teenager I admired a lot, and I still do, a Greek spearo and filmographer, Giannis Vlachos, and his perspective of what is modern spearfishing. He was the introducer of the agguato technique in Greece through his movies.
VP: How and when did you start to compete? What were your goals, and still are, in competitions?
Gerasimos Kavvadias: I started competing 20 years ago and my first competition which I took seriously was the Greek National championship of 2014. I had little experience of competitions from 2002 until 2011, when I took part in some local club championships, in Thessaloniki. My goals at first were just to compete and get better. Now my only goal is to be first and I get disappointed when this doesn’t happen.
VP: Which are your best results until now? Home and international?
GK: I have won the Greek national championship in individuals and teams in 2020 and 2015 respectively and I came 3rd and 5th in the World Championship of 2016 and 2021 respectively. I have also been many times in second and third place in many competitions during these years.
VP: Are you satisfied with the last WC in Italy?
GK: I am satisfied with the effort that I made, but I am not satisfied with the result. I think that what stays in my mind, in the end, is the result, so I can say that overall I am not very pleased. But this is what I could do during this period of my life when I in general have very little time to dedicate to competitions, especially when these take place when schools are open (I am a biology teacher in high school).
VP: What are your plans for competitions this year?
GK: I will take part in the Greek Nationals for individuals and in the Euro-African championship in Tunis.
VP: Do you have any idea how to change rules or something else to help to protect fish but still to continue with spearfishing and competitions? Is there enough rules to protect fish or it is too much, should be less? What rules are existing in Greece?
Gerasimos Kavvadias: I think the problem, and this is more or less the opinion of most of the fisheries stakeholders, is not the lack or the inefficiency of the existing rules. The problem is that those rules are not applied, or they are applied unequally to all the parts. In general, we can say that legislative pressure is applied on groups of fishermen in inverse proportion to the political influence that they have on the government and the fisheries policymakers, fisheries scientists and Non Governative Organizations. In my country, I think that commercial fishing needs to be more regulated, while they should just apply the existing rules on recreational fishing. If there is a point to make some adjustments is the manner that the penalties are applied, when illegality occurs. I think a gradual appliance of penalties to some illegalities that occur repeatedly, with the last stage of this graduality should be the permanent expel of the systematics breakers of the fishing laws from the sea, would help to fisheries and fishing activities protection.
Preferred areas, techniques, fish…and secrets to catch the dentex
VP: Where do you live and what is your favourite way of spearfishing, and which fish?
GK: I live in Crete island, Herakleion city. Here the waters are clear in general and warm (14-15 oC in Winter), fish are scarce and deep-diving is required to obtain some decent catch. My favourite way of spearfishing is deep agguato and static ambush with constant weight for dentex, mottled and golden groupers. I also enjoy a lot, during Winter, some shallow sessions for grey mullets and sea breams with harsh weather across the shore.
VP: Do you have any special way/secret/something different from others spearos that you use to catch specific fish or to find it?
Gerasimos Kavvadias: I think that I am good at finding and catching dentex. I think that I have decoded many of the signs that the sea gives me for this species: when it will come to my ambush, when it is time to hunt it in shallow or deeper water, when it will be curious to the sounds that I make and when the same sounds will have the opposite effect than the expected. When and where the current is favourable, the moon phase, the thermocline and many more parameters that govern the behaviour of this emblematic fish of Mediterranean spearfishing.
Something that is very important in dentex fishing is to specify from the descent already, the imaginative borderline that the fish will not pass during our aspetto. We have to have in mind that dentex is a bipolar species, that balances between its territoriality and its cautiousness. It is better, and maybe safer because this will shorten our depth time, to choose a deeper spot inside the territory where the fish move. For example, it is better to have a dive at 30 meters of 1:55 duration than a dive at 24 meters of 2:20 duration. Of course, this is only my approach and no one if this doesn’t fit his fishing style and experience should follow it as a dogma.
I think that dentex fishing concentrates what I love the most about spearfishing, complexity and simplicity together. It is about adding up all the details and finding out after many years of hunting, all you need to catch dentex. It is just a matter of waking up, looking out of your window and simply feel if it is a good day for dentex. The greek word for this is apheresis.
Equipment and time
VP: What do your preferred equipment?
GK: I use all the equipment that XT Diving produces, from wetsuits to fins, more specifically I use smooth-open cell tailor-made wetsuits, with some special characteristics for me, like particular combinations of neoprene for the hood and sleeves. I use the Pteryx long-wide fins with KM foot pockets. The smaller spearguns that I use are from KM dive, from 60cm to 95cm. The bigger speargun that I use is a 120 cm of El Greco company invert roller. I also use a lot a C4 graphite 99 and a C4 105 Mr Carbon 2.0. As electronics, I use Furuno fishfinder and GPS.
VP: Fishing is not your job, so how much time do you manage to spend on spearfishing?
GK: I make my living from teaching. I work 50-60 hours per week from September to June. When I was in Sardegna for the preparation of the world championship, I had to work some days from Skype. I can say that I serve two masters! My passion for spearfishing and my appetite for perfection in my profession, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed. Still, somehow I find balance through all this mess and I continue. I try to be in the sea during this period for at least one day and a half every week, sometimes with very rough sea conditions, but that’s it. I have accepted all this and I try every day to be in the best shape and state of mind for spearfishing. In the summertime, when schools are closed, I try to be every day in the sea for at least a few hours. This is my routine and who I am in general, and I feel grateful that my wife accepts it and supports it all the way!