Shallow waters produce prime target species
  |  First Published: December 2012

Summer has started off well with warming waters and some very promising catches.

Port Phillip has been producing some excellent results, particularly in the shallows. The old cliché, “you don’t have to dive deep to spear fish” has never been more true than in the summer months in Port Phillip. I have had some spectacular days landing top eating fish such as flathead, flounder, snapper, squid, snook and scallops all under 5m of water!

The most productive areas have been around the southern end of Port Phillip at Queenscliff, Portsea and Swan Bay but as the water warms most inshore reefs will fire along the northern, western and eastern side of the bay. Personal hotspots include Mornington, Black Rock, Brighton and even Altona. As you can imagine these destinations all have very heavy boating traffic in summer, especially on weekends. Be sure to tow a personal dive float with a high flying Alpha dive flag attached notifying boaters to stay away as a diver is in the region.

If you are diving from a boat please ensure to fly a decent sized clearly visible boat flag also.

On one dive recently with Andrew Cuttajar and State spearfishing champion Murray Petersen we landed snapper to 2.5kg, squid to 2.5kg, flathead and trevally to 1kg, and array of other quality species in very shallow water (2-5m). The use of berley (fresh squid heads did help) along with some stealthy sneaking through the shallows help produce these amazing results.

Swim slowly and search the sand and weed beds carefully. Never underestimate where these quality species frequent, particularly early mornings and later in the evening. Be patient with your berley as it does take time to attract wary fish such as snapper and whiting. Swim away and return every 10-15 minutes to see what has been lured into the berley.

The ocean has also warmed and the crayfish season has opened. Good catches of crayfish have been taken along the ocean beaches when the weather has allowed. Usual spots have produced including the Mornington Peninsular back beaches, Phillip Island, Apollo Bay, Warrnambool and Port Fairy. One recent dive at Port Fairy l caught my two crayfish bag limit in less than thirty minutes not diving over 2m of water. These crayfish are in the freezer ready for Christmas day.

The great thing about hunting crayfish is that once you know where to look you do not need to dive deep. This particularly holds true on very calm days in the western part of the state. You can generally always find a good feed of abalone as well but makes sure they are all of legal size and check that the abalone season is open. (Abalone take is restricted to 60 days per year in Victorian Central Zone waters).

December typically means the start of the yellowtail kingfish season here in Victoria. Last year we encountered them in mid-December so l am again hopeful for some pre Christmas kings! Regular haunts such as Kennet River, Killarney, Port Phillip Heads, Cape Schanck, The Nobbies, Pyramid Rock and Cape Woolamai at Phillip Island, Cape Liptrap and the islands off Wilsons Promontory should all produce in the coming weeks.

Whilst spearfishing for kingfish you will increase your chances of seeing them by towing flashers (hook less lures and shiny mirrors). This style of blue water fishing is best done in pairs. You will be surprised just how inquisitive these fish can be and how you can find yourself schooled by kingfish in very shallow water.

Other prized species such as salmon and even striped tuna can be found at some of these destinations.

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