February is one of the peak months for spearfishing in Victoria and is our ‘blue water’ month with warm waters and some very challenging southern blue water species on hand for the dedicated spearfisher.
I am of course referring to the arrival of tuna species (southern blue fin and albacore tuna) in the west of the state and the continued captures of yellowtail kingfish from across our state. With water temperatures in the ocean around 18ºC the kingfish will continue to be on offer.
The kingies have again been quite good this season with good captures up to 15kg to date from usual hot spots such as Wilson Promontory, Pt Fairy and Phillip Island. We first encountered the kingies in late December off Phillip Island and, while these fish were smaller (6-8kg), I am tipping a good long season into March and early April.
Mid February sees the hosting of the Victorian Kingfish Cup, a state-wide dedicated kingfish spearfishing competition and it will be interesting to see the results by Victoria’s keenest blue water spearfishers.
The SBT have arrived in good numbers in December and January off Victor Harbour in South Australia and again I am confident we will have a good February for those serious and dedicated.
Offshore there have been good schools of Australian salmon and striped tuna surfacing in approximately 30m of water off Cape Liptrap and Cape Woolamai. These fish have proven quite challenging for spearfishers but some nice salmon up to 2.5kg have been landed. They are feeding on smaller baitfish, and the birds and seals have been good tell-tale signs. Slowly approach these bait balls and try and predict the direction they are moving and drop the divers in. With a bit of luck the school of fish will approach the divers. It’s a lot of fun, but patience is the key.
Inshore the crayfish season continues to fish very well with many free-diving and SCUBA divers taking good catches from the central and western parts of the state. I have had a few reports of 3-4kg specimens being taken from the far west of the state at Pt Fairy and Portland. February often brings some flat seas and calm weather and this will enhance cray divers chances.
Cray diving is best done in pairs in flat seas so take full advantage of the flat seas when you get the chance. Do not forget to cut the crayfish tails after capture as per Fisheries regulations as the Fisheries have been red hot.
Spearfishing along the ocean inshore reefs continues to produce impressive catches through out summer with fine captures of snapper, whiting, trevally and the usual mixed bag of reef fish. The warm water in the shallows of Port Phillip Bay however have really been producing some excellent species in only a few meters of water. Large flathead, flounder, snook, snapper and salmon have been encountered in the toasty warm 20-22ºC water. In the northern parts of the bay good catches of bream and flathead have also been recorded.
The waters from Altona through to Black Rock have been producing the odd school of smaller kingfish. Port Phillip Bay can really turn it on in summer and it never ceases to amaze me of the quality of some of the fish speared in the bay in summer.
February really is quite a special month to be spearfishing in Victoria, whether it is blue water hunting or doing the weekend warrior dive in the shallows of our protected bays. It is also one of the peak recreational boating months and potentially dangerous time to be snorkelling.
Be a safe and responsible spearfisher and tow a personal dive float that is clearly visible flying the blue and white flag. Equally important, stay within close range of the float and be attentive of boating traffic nearby. Each summer across Australia there is a number of close calls and even tragic fatalities with surface swimming spearfishers and motor vessels. Boaters should slow down to 5knots immediately upon seeing the dive float and avoid the area if possible.Reads: 1200