The First Day Out
  |  First Published: December 2011

The natural progression from fishing to spearfishing is a course that many divers have followed, however taking those first steps towards plunging into the ocean are often the hardest.

Where do I go? Who do I go with? Most importantly how do I do it? There are a number of pathways into the life-long addiction of spearfishing that I will elaborate on for any fishos out there that might have an interest in donning a mask and checking out what lies beneath.

Joining a Club

There is no better way to get from zero to hero than joining a spearfishing club. By meeting up with experienced spear anglers from the local area, newcomers have the opportunity to gain an understanding of the best practices in spearfishing. Most importantly, you get the chance to hear exciting tales of the deep, which will serve to spur on an interest in spearfishing.

Get out there

My spearfishing journey began as a youngster poking around rock holes and marvelling in the multitude of sea life on display. It helps to find someone who shares your interest and together learn about spearfishing and being in the ocean. By building rapport with the ocean you gain a solid confidence in knowing its waves and currents. Learning to appreciate the conditions makes spearfishing much safer. My spearfishing prowess certainly didn’t progress at the level of others who had joined clubs and were advancing in leaps and bounds, but by spending plenty of time in the water and learning about fish and their habitat, I formed my own understanding of the sport.

What to Target?

What you will target depends primarily on your location. It’s important when starting out to build up a confidence in your weapon of choice, be it a Hawaiian sling or speargun. Target practice in the water will help you predict where you will hit when you fire and prevent sloppy shots, which wound fish or ruin the fillet.

Crayfish are great to hunt when you are just getting into spearfishing. They can be found in very shallow water and provide exciting diving. Targeting crayfish doesn’t require a speargun or hand spear as they can be easily grabbed by hand. The most difficult part is often finding them. Look for deep cracks and rocky overhangs. The telltale antennae often protrude from cracks around the rocks. Take your time if you do find a cray, as they generally won’t move until physically disturbed. The key to grabbing a cray is a swift grabbing action at the last moment securing the cray at the base of the antennae where they won’t break off.

In southeastern Australia, you will encounter the eastern and southern rock lobster. Moving north you will find the painted and ornate crayfish. Slipper lobsters are a rare but welcomed encounter.

December Report
We have had a few weeks of horrible weather here in Coffs Harbour. If it’s not 3m swells and pouring with rain, it’s a howling northeast with filthy water. We haven’t made it out for a dive in over three weeks, which starts to make the office a little tense. I ease the stress by reminiscing about some fantastic diving earlier in the year. One particular dive always gets me pumped to get back in the water. It was a dead flat and sunny morning with a hint of a northeaster starting to puff. With the brilliant seas we decided to make a quick run out to the FADs and see if there was anything happening out there. The ride out was smooth but as soon as I jumped in the water I could tell it was not happening; 10m visibility and cold water were not what you wanted this far out to sea. We quickly decided to change tact and head in towards the coast. After a bumpy ride back into the now 15knot westerly wind, we finally arrived at one of the solitary islands. With the westerly blowing, the eastern side of the island was like a lake - perfect for getting right up against the rocks and searching for a jewfish. I floundered into the edge of the island and was shocked to find a school of over 30 fish waiting for me. They weren’t big mulloway but I prefer the smaller fish for eating anyway. I dived down and held onto a rock at the edge of the hole the fish were circling in. I lined up on the biggest fish and shot it perfectly. As I started my swim back to the boat with my fish, I looked down to see another silvery glimmer on the bottom. I dived down and picked up another nice mulloway that I had inadvertently shot with the first fish. The spear had paralyzed the fish but not penetrated. I had a grin from ear to ear after shooting two beautiful eating size jewfish in one shot!
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