Fabrizio D'Agnano,

46 years old, owner of TotemSub and producer of several spearfishing DVD's, is also director of several documentaries on "caccia e pesca" pay per view channel and will tell us about the Ladispoli shoals.


In my spearfishing career I have had the chance to dive in many amazing locations. In first place just to follow the passion I had since I was a child and lately to fulfil the professional commitments related to making spearfishing documentaries. Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Calabria, Greece... 
To be honest among my favourite spots there is a special place for the northern roman coast, where I am still used to dive when the time is right. My love for this area has grown up later on as I spent the first ten years of practice in the waters of Ventotene and Linosa islands, and also along the coasts of northern Sardinia. However, in terms of fish abundance and beautiful underwater landscapes, the roman coasts are equally worth (as long as you know the good spots), with the only exception of the visibility that is often much lower. 
I think that the wealth of this area is due to either the low visibility or the large extension of shallow waters even few miles off the. 

The matching of these two factors allow its resources to be not exploited as other areas with better visibility are.
But let’s come to us. I would start describing the coast of Ladispoli, thtat togheter with Santa Marinella area can be considered as the “mother” of almost all the roman spearos. I do spear there only since april to the end of November and I never dive in the shallow waters near the coast. I guess that due to its morphology, during the winter time you can catch some good sea basses but I have never tried since during the winter time the water in that portion of sea is clear only when the latter is calm and northern wind blows…usually these conditions don’t bring fishes… 
Surely the isolated stone slabs, south of Ladispoli can allow some good white sea bream and brown meagre catches in their holes, as in the past I have done a few but I don’t like anymore holes fishing so in wintertime I go somewhere else. 

The most interesting area is the Torre Flavia shoals. It’s a large area that goes from the coast to several miles off of it and from Cerenova, at north to the Palo laziale castle, at south. In general we can say that starting from the coast there is a first stripe of sand and mud with some algae bunches here and there. A few hundreds of meters off we find the first rocks, very low and isolated ones, at a depth ranging from 7to 10/12mt. Going farther, according to the areas, we can find big isolated rocky agglomerates, with many holes, especially on the northern and southern sides of the shoal. In this stripe (we are still closet o the coast), the water is always muddy. It is not easy to find these agglomerates as much as it is not losing the point during the surface phases due to its limited extension, for this reason it is recommended a good use of the buoys. 

Usually we can catch good sea breams either by using waiting technique or in holes with a short gun. In the warmer season instead you can find almost anything, even fishes like big gilthead breams or leer fishes. This spot is characterized by the presence of big schools of mullets that to be honest have lately decreased in number. Often in august for one or two weeks the water is crystal clear so much you can see the bottom from the surface. In this condition spearos from anywhere come to feast as the white breams that are not used to the better visibility can be caught easily. In this kind of catches there is no fair play, so a wise spearo should spear just two or three good specimen and then start using another technique.  

Going farther again we can find the shoal itself. In general we can say that the top of it at five metres only is flat and it is not really interesting. The northern side falls rapidly to the bottom but I spear on the edge only when the Atlantic bonitos pass. Heading slightly to south for hundred meters we can find one of the best spots. 
The rocky bottom in fact gets diversified and rich of channels, holes , isolated agglomerates etc. Even if it a large area, there are several basins and flat zones that are not that good for fishing so if you don’t know by heart the shoal you cannot exploit its resources at their best. The depth of the flat zones is about 7/8mt, instead the bottom of the basins is at 9/12mt. Here you can find schools of big brown meagre and I caught a few over 2,5 kg.
Generally they disappear in their inaccessible holes at the first sign of danger and fortunately they do not allow to shoot more than one specimen. Probably this is the reason why we can still find them although the limited depth, in fact I know some spots where I am used to spear big ones since many years ago.
In May we can find here gilthead breams ranging from 1.5kg and 3kg. It’s curious but in some basins of these from the sandy bottom we can see columns of bubbles…unfortunately I cannot say what they really are. 

Going farther, at about nine metres, the rocky bottom gets taller even if important basins and edges are no longer present. Here we can follow the current with the floating anchor or with a mate on the boat and spear good white breams exclusively by using the waiting technique.


By crossing the shoal to south, the visibility generally lowers since the muddy flows tend to stop when they crash to the side of the shoal. Also here we can find amazing spots and in good visibility conditions we can see gorgeous natural spectacles. Very often there is a net layer of white water right below the edge. 


This is a particular phenomenon and sometimes it is not enough to know the area to guess what the water would be like. For example, sometimes the first metre of water is characterized by absolute zero visibility while below the water is far clearer. In some other cases instead the first metre above the bottom is like smoke instead the rest is clear. If you move just hundred meters the general visibility conditions can improve or even worsen and change also during the day.

The best moments for spearing are when the thermal breeze changes take place, also called “sunflowers”. Long periods of mistral bring clear water but cold at the bottom. For me, being not a hole spearer, it’s better when the visibility is about 4/7 metres. When the water is clear, and usually also cold, fishes are not used to go around and are not easy to catch with the waiting technique, so it is better to localize them near their holes from the surface or take a look at the most interesting fissures.

I don’t like to take advantage of these situations shooting a lot of breams. When these conditions occur I usually shoot a white bream or two and then I search for a big fish. I don’t have then a memory of great catches. In particular, in October I always succeed in taking back home a nice Dentex even diving no deeper than 8 metres. A few years ago I was spearing with a mate. He was on the bottom while I waited for him on the surface.
Suddenly I heard a big noise and I though He had shot something so I dove to reach him. I soon realized a big school of leer fishes was passing over him and it surrounded me. The visibility was limited so I did not manage to see the whole bunch of them but they kept passing next to me. At the end I caught a 10 kilos one. 

In another moment, with a dear friend of mine, we found some fissures literally filled with white breams and other fishes, they where anywhere. We caught a pair of them and then we allowed ourselves a certain time to stare at them.


Two years ago instead I saw for the first time a school of sandy corbs and I also remember enormous gilthead breams...so a place where, with a bit of luck, we can find anything. The only fish I have not found yet is a large grouper, but I hope I will catch it soon…




Fabrizio D'Agnano


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