Cooler water means big fish and bigger guns
  |  First Published: May 2013

May sees the cooling of the water along our Victorian coastline.

This generally sees the spearfishing effort slowing down for most of your typical inshore ‘weekend warriors’. Sure good spearfishing still exists along with great crayfishing along our oceans coastline but the main attention for the avid spearfisher turns offshore and to the west of the state. May is the peak of the season for the southern bluefin tuna fishery here in Victoria.

The tuna arrived in early February and got many line anglers enthusiastic. It was however when tuna guru Simon Rinaldi landed the first barrel in Victoria in late March that most avid blue water hunters prepared their blue water spearfishing gear for the exciting and challenging months ahead.

Blue water spearfishing gear is vastly different than in shore spearfishing gear and generally consists of several large two-atmosphere blue water floats, longer bungy lines (instead of thinner non stretchy inshore float lines) and larger spearguns. These blue water cannons generally have 4-6 rubbers and a thicker 10 mm shaft! They are capable of shooting fish from 9-10m and pack some real punch. They also use slip tips, (a tip that slips off the spear and toggles the tuna once hit) and a breakaway rig. This break away rig allows divers to follow their floats and retrieve their floats and line whilst still holding onto their cannon. It is specialised gear and like blue water fishing equipment it is not cheap.

The southern bluefin tuna and hopefully albacore tuna should be present in good numbers in western Victoria throughout May. Usual hotspots off shore from Portland, Port Fairy and Warrnambool are likely to produce tuna and possibly even dolphin fish. Hopefully, the reefs off Apollo Bay will fire up again this season. Each season is slightly different so do your homework before you head out. Regular updates exist, especially on websites like www.wildblue.com.au you can save a lot of time, money and effort by checking for up to date fishing reports.

The most proven method of targeting tuna species whilst spearfishing is to troll lures (either with or without hook). Once you get the tell tale strike then it’s time to throw in the berley (usually pilchards or other smaller baitfish) and in with the divers. Be sure to keep the chum flowing as it does take a while sometimes for the whole school to rise and commence feeding in the trail. At other times you will roll over into a massive school of feeding tuna, often with SBT and albacore mixed together. A truly amazing sight!

This is not for the faint hearted or inexperienced and it does pay to try this with a seasoned diver on your first outing. It is not as easy as it sounds also but it is very exciting and rewarding landing quality world-class fish here in our back yard. Be very mindful of the potential for sharks with makos being the typical culprits. It is very wise to get out of the water once a mako is seen.

Other techniques include the sounding up of fish and then berley for them hoping they will rise to spearable depths. Another option is to dive on bait balls and surface action/commotion like jumping tuna, baitfish and seals. However, this is not advisable if there are other fishing boats already working the baitfish.

Be sure to be extra safety conscious and try and work away from other traditional game fishers trolling lures. Always fly your big boat diver below flag and always carry a flag on your personal float.

Blue water spearfishing is growing in popularity and with world record albacore and bluefin tuna being landed in this region in recent years it is no surprise that more and more spearfishers are looking at this alternate yet very exciting and rewarding form of hunting.

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