Slow start now spears ahead
  |  First Published: May 2014

Despite the drop in temperature, both in the water and out, May still offers some great spearfishing.

April saw a reasonably slow start to the tuna season with the biggest congregations of albacore and southern bluefin tuna between Portland and Port Macdonnell. Keen blue water spear fishers have been eagerly awaiting the peak influx of tuna that seems to happen around May and those in the know have been preparing the big gear for these fish.

Blue water gear is vastly different from the smaller inshore gear used to target more bread and butter species. Big guns, 130cm+ as a minimum, with 4-6 rubbers are the order of the day. These large guns are capable of running 10mm shafts and shooting fish from up to 10m away. Multiple floats are also employed with bungy lines and a capacity of up to two atmospheres. These floats are used to hold the speared fish higher up in the water column and to assist the diver in maintaining contact with the fish while tiring it before capture.

During May the usual hotspots will be offshore from Portland, Port Fairy and Warrnambool in the far west of the state. These areas are also the go-to spots for anglers and, once again, I cannot stress enough the need to consider all the safety aspects. Large diver below flags on the boat and also the floats are not only essential, but a legal requirement. It's also advisable to stay well away from areas that are being heavily targeted by line fishers. A good boat handler who is well aware of the risks and can keep an eye on the divers and any boats entering the area is a must.

Inshore diving should not be discounted at this time of year. Weather patterns seem to be predominantly more stable with less wind making conditions perfect to target shallow water species. The cooler weather means less people in the popular tourist areas and therefore less pressure on the more easily targeted reef species. This is one of my favourite times of year to target southern rock lobster and abalone. Shallow reef areas from 3-10m are highly productive for both these delicacies.

May is actually one of the best months to target the more bread and butter species. Fish such as King George whiting, silver trevally, bastard trumpeter, longfin pike and sea sweep are commonly in better numbers at this time of year. We also start to see large numbers of Australian salmon in these inshore areas and encountering big schools is a frequent occurrence.

Port Phillip Bay also has a lot to offer at this time of year with similar species on offer. Shallow reefs often hold species such as snapper and squid and out in the bay proper, scallops are certainly in greater numbers in depths from 5-20m.

This month certainly offers some exciting spearfishing opportunities. Until next month, safe diving.

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