Farewell to the kings, hello tuna
  |  First Published: April 2014

April is the month that bids farewell to the yellowtail kingfish season.

Although there has been some great captures, the 2013-14 season has been a little hit and miss for spearfishers. The kings seemed to be there one day and gone the next, but the same old haunts did produce when the conditions were right.

The best areas in the south west are Wilsons Prom, Cape Liptrap and the Rip were the standout areas in the Melbourne area with Portland’s north shore, Lady Julia Percy Island and The Crags. Julia Percy and Wilsons Prom do seem to hold kings in the latest part of the season so these spots are still worth one last go, even in April.

On the upside, the departure of the kingfish heralds the beginning of the peak tuna season. The thoughts of keen blue water spearfishers collectively turn to albacore and southern bluefin tuna. In March we had a promising start with fish to 30kg and above being caught by line fishers in the Port Macdonnell area. There were also good numbers of school fish in the shallower waters around Portland, with fish being seen and caught around the ships moored offshore in the bay.

The most successful technique for targeting tuna as a spearfishing quarry is to tow teasers behind your boat to raise the fish. Once tuna are seen and clearly present, then a liberal flow of berley/chum will keep the fish actively feeding at the boat. A 130cm dual rubber gun or bigger, large floats with a strong rope line or bungee line tethered to the gun are the order of the day.

Once speared, the tuna can take quite some controlling and it's important to have a buddy in the water to help with subduing the fish, if needed, and to keep an eye out for your safety. It's also a good idea to avoid the areas where the line fishers are trolling for tuna as they don't expect to see divers in the water out on the continental shelf. A ‘diver below flag’ on your float and displayed on the dive boat is essential at all times.

Inshore diving is also not to be overlooked at this time of year. Right along the Victorian coastline divers can expect to find species such as snook, sea sweep and King George whiting just to name a few. Salmon and trevally are also common captures in April too. Southern rock lobster are still in season and abundant at this time of year and a feed of abalone is always easy to find.

All these species are best found on the shallow reefs close to shore. Depths of 4-7m being the ideal hunting grounds. Areas such as Killarney near Port Fairy in the south west and Portsea, Queenscliff and St Leonards are all prime locations this month. Remember to make yourself aware of all size and bag limits of any species you target and to always dive safely and sustainably.

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