Cooler water but plenty of opportunities for the well-prepared
  |  First Published: August 2013

August is another quieter month for spear fishers in Victoria but good spearfishing can still be had for the enthusiastic spearo who’s prepared to target quality species.

The water is definitely quite chilly but a well-prepared diver will still get a good feed of calamari in the southern reaches of Port Phillip. Try both the western and eastern sides and work the weed beds around Portsea, Queenscliff, St Leonards and entrance to Swan Bay. Be sure to fly your personal and boat dive flag and show respect to fellow squid anglers. A good method is to scan the shallows for white squid eggs from your boat prior to entering the water. Cruise slowly over the weed beds and you should be able to spot both the eggs and squid from your boat. The calamari will continue to frequent the area with the eggs and these areas will produce for several days or longer. The odd good whiting and flathead are also taken in this vicinity and make for a tasty by-catch. The squid season is just starting to fire and should produce well for the next few months.

Underwater hunting can be enjoyed in ocean areas throughout August and some good winter male crayfish are still being landed. Be sure to leave the protected female crayfish alone as many have eggs attached and it is strictly prohibited.

As per previous winter reports l will offer some advice on gear selection and this month we will look at free diving fins. Perhaps one of the most important pieces of equipment, fins offer almost all of our propulsion through the water column.

Free diving fins are much longer than typical SCUBA diving fins and average 90-100 cm long. They are made from a variety of materials from thermoplastic (cheaper) through to composite fibre and even carbon fibre. They differ from shorter SCUBA diving fins in that they have a closed heel and not an open foot pocket. This means no bulky and cumbersome straps for kelp, float and gun lines to become entangled. They generally come in two parts, the foot pocket and the fins blade. These blades are inter-changeable and some divers will change blades depending on the type of diving they are doing.

Before you invest in a set of long bladed fins you need to work out what sort of spearfishing or underwater hunting you plan on doing most of the time. Some fins are better suited to land-based diving where fins receive harsh treatment entering and leaving the waters. Here a thermoplastic set of fins are ideal. These fins are harder wearing and easier to use than stiffer fins like carbon fibre. They usually start at around $100 but you can pay up to $250-$300 for some better brands.

However, if you are boat diving in open and deeper waters on a regular basis then a set of composite fibre and even carbon fibre fins may be ideal. These stiffer blade fins do require some getting used to and a reasonable amount of fitness is required and is thus not always ideal for newcomers to the sport. These types of fins are much more expensive (at around $400-$600) but are worth the investment for the serious spearfisher. They will make diving deeper and swimming longer distances much easier and will improve your general free-diving.

Fins come in various colours and patterns and some offer amazing camouflage in certain underwater terrain. This offers the underwater hunter a better profile and you are less likely to scare or spook certain wary fish. I love my composite fibre camouflage fins and use them on most of my dives.

Fins should fit comfortably and allow for a wetsuit boot as well. Ideal thickness bootie in Victoria is 5mm or even 7mm and you should always try a fin on with your bootie for the first time. A poor fitting fin will cause discomfort, blisters and the chance to lose them in turbulent waters. Fins should fit comfortably without being too tight.

Enjoy your winter diving and l hope you find these tips helpful.

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