Big kings and tasty crayfish
  |  First Published: December 2012

January promises to start very well with some excellent spear fishing conditions and opportunities along the Victorian coastline.

The crayfish season has produced consistent results and is one of the best starts to the season that I can remember. Most experienced free divers know that have put in an honest session in good conditions have been rewarded with their bag limit of two crayfish. Usual spots have been producing when the swell is down especially along the west coast with Cape Otway, Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland being the pick of them. Be sure to snip the tails upon capture (as per fisheries regulations) as they have been red hot on this rule. It amazes me how many guys still get booked for overlooking this simple and easy to follow procedure.

The main hype in January is the yellowtail kingfish season. Victoria has very few spear fishing game fish opportunities but we all get excited in early January when the water warms and the seasonal migration of kingfish comes to the southern state. With sightings in December at Wilsons Promontory we can expect a bumper January-March kingfish season. The average size of these fish are 10-12 kg but specimens up to 25 kg have been seen in recent years and it’s simply a matter of time before a real kingfish is landed by a spearo here in Victoria. With dedication and the right equipment spearfishers can expect a reward and return on their time put aside to target kingfish.

Yellowtail kingfish can and do appear almost anywhere in Victoria in the peak three months of the year. From northern Port Phillip through to shallow reefs in Bass Strait. Historically the most productive locations for diving encounters with kingfish have included Portland (north shore), Port Fairy (Peeping Toms reef) Warrnambool (Killarney area) Apollo Bay and Cape Otway reefs, Port Phillip Heads/RIP area, Cape Schanck, Nobbies, Pyramid Rock and Cape Woolamai at Phillip Island, Cape Liptrap, Wilsons Promontory Islands and a several other areas in the far east of the state including Beware Reef and Gabo Island off Mallacoota.

The key to landing yellowtail kingfish whilst spear fishing is being correctly prepared for the opportunity. For nine months of the year I dive with a spear gun that is not likely going to land a large kingfish; a 90cm gun with a pranger head. However, from January through to March each year I upsize to a larger 120-130cm spear gun in the hope I will encounter the elusive kingfish. I also dive with flashers in tow (Perspex mirrors that attract pelagic fish) and I am always tethered to a reasonable float (flying the diver below Alpha flag).

This equipment I consider the perfect kingfish rig for spearfishing and has led to numerous kingfish being landed in Victorian waters in the past five years whilst I have targeted this elusive, challenging and tasty species. Whilst towing flashers you can expect other pelagic fish such as trevally, salmon, snook, warehou, barracouta and so on to approach also. In fact, they even attract reef species and it is not uncommon to have large sweep, leatherjackets and even boarfish check out the mirrors. I am a big fan of flashers, they come in lots of shapes and sizes but quite often it is the home made recycled CD/DVD that produces.

January has also seen the arrival in numbers of schools of pinkies, trevally, King George whiting and Australian salmon onto our coastal reefs. The use of a little fresh berley has increased catch rates and most destinations both in Bass Strait and Port Phillip have produced good results for those who persevere.

I am busy filming our summer spear fishing exploits and in March I plan to showcase these images at a free introduction to spear fishing night. This will also see a series of brief free talks on targeting prized Victorian species. Be sure to check out February V&TFM magazine for the exact details.

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