The start of the prime spearfishing season here in Victoria is upon us with the water warming and the pelagic species starting to appear in numbers.
The crayfish and abalone season is also open allowing for some delicacies and great hunting and gathering.
November and December has seen the water warming and some good catches of trevally, salmon, whiting, snook and snapper on our ocean reefs. Reports in from western Victorian coastline indicate good catches of trevally and King George whiting from regular hotspots like Killarney and the ponds area around Port Fairy.
I have also seen good numbers of trevally and salmon along the Phillip Island ocean beaches with some good fish coming in at the recent Southern Freedivers spear fishing competition at Kitty Miller Bay. Here snook up to 2.5 kg were weighed along with salmon and trevally. These ocean locations will continue to fire through January, February and March and you can expect the seasonal yellowtail kingfish to start appearing.
Last year we started spearing yellowtail kingfish in late December and from January through to March they were common. Hot spots included Cape Schanck, Pyramid Rock, and the islands off Wilsons Promontory along with Portland in the west. On a dive in late November at Pyramid Rock we had a reasonable amount of baitfish present with yellowtail scads seen on both the east and west side of the rock and this is a very promising sign.
Be sure to be using your flashers and larger 1.2-1.3m spearguns rigged to your floats whilst targeting kingfish. Last year Drew Fenny managed the state record yellowtail at over 23kg and we can expect more big fish this summer. I will be running charters during the summer for kingfish and will have a regular update on my website, check it out at http://bwhi.com.au/expeditions/
These species if targeted can be encountered with regular success and some spearfishers took consistent catches of kingies between 10-20kg from January through to early April in 2011. Good luck in chasing these awesome fish.
I have had a few crayfish dives since the season opened in mid November with reasonable success catching my 2 crayfish bag limit. The size of these early season crayfish were not big, averaging around 1kg, but they will get bigger as the water warms and they move in closer to shore. Again, west coast reports from early in the season have been good with Apollo Bay (Cape Otway reefs) producing some nice crays.
The abalone season for 2011-2012 opened in mid November also and again good stocks were seen at many of the ocean reefs. Recreational abalone diving have a unique set of laws relating to harvesting and is restricted to just 60 days per season. Be aware of the open days and size limits. Please also note different size limits apply to different regions and a maximum of 5 abalone per day are allowed. For more information on taking abalone check it out at: http://www.dpi.vic.gov.au
With the recent appointment of more fisheries officers you can be sure that they will be active and abalone and crayfish have always been a high priority species for their enforcement officers. Know the rules and enjoy gathering these tasty shellfish.
A rare capture by the current Victorian spearfishing champion Murray Petersen recently saw him land a 1kg estuary perch. It was just under the current state and national record and was another classic catch by Murray. Whilst he is not disclosing the exact location he says he saw them twice on the dive with his fish coming from a school of 20.
If you have some spearfishing reports or pictures you would like to share in this column feel free to email them through to me on: --e-mail address hidden--Reads: 3010