Chilly times for spearfishers
  |  First Published: June 2014

Through May we saw a terrific build up in the numbers of tuna offshore, as well as some great inshore diving opportunities. The conditions were not always conducive to good diving but there were certainly plenty of chances to hunt them offshore.

The inshore diving was also hindered by some rough seas and dirty water but on the better days there were plenty of southern rock lobster and reef species to be found.

June sees the beginning of winter and water temperatures start to bottom out. Temps of around 11-12ºC are not uncommon in the bays around Melbourne and south west Victoria. Warmer wetsuits and shorter dives are the order of the day at this time of year. The body tends to fatigue more quickly in the colder temps, so it's important to remain aware of this and not push yourself past your own limits.

The upside to the winter diving period is that we actually see some of most stable weather patterns through this part of the year. Light offshore winds and low swell mean that offshore diving is a real option. This also coincides with the peak of the tuna season with large numbers of school fish tending to push in a little closer. At times tuna can be encountered in water depths as shallow as 40-50m, meaning long trips out to the shelf are not the only option to find tuna. Once again it's still very important to remain aware of your surroundings. Avoid areas being actively fished by anglers and be sure to have your float with a diver below flag clearly displayed.

Stable weather with low swell and flat seas also means the inshore diving can be spectacular this time of year. The winter species to be targeted include King George whiting, sea sweep and southern rock lobster to name just a few. Just keep in mind that from June 1 female rock lobster begin their closed season and ONLY male rock lobster can be taken.

Sea sweep are in much larger numbers at this time of the year whereas whiting schools tend to be a little more sparse but with the general size of the fish being much larger on average. There is also a large influx of Australian salmon and silver trevally that are true winter residents of the Victorian coastline.

The bays around Melbourne are also great hunting grounds in June and generally have a lot less boat traffic than in the warmer months. Southern Port Phillip Bay will start to produce good southern calamari and whiting in the shallower waters and for those capable of diving deeper waters there is always the chance of a winter snapper.

Winter can be one of the best times of the year for spearfishing so don't let the cooler water deter you from getting out and enjoying what our coastline has to offer.

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