Prepare for the cold
  |  First Published: July 2014

July is the coldest month for spear fishers with water temps dropping to 12ºC and lower in the bays and South West Victoria. Nevertheless, those who put in the effort are still being rewarded.

June provided some excellent hunting opportunities offshore around Portland. Several trips by local divers proved successful on the tuna front.

Keen local spear fisherman Christian Hughes and good mate Brett Illingworth from Escalpez Australia had a great trip out. Both of them bagged tuna in the 15kg range! These fish require patience and skill to spear. The best technique is to cube them up. The boys also had people on the boat drop jigs into the school holding at the boat. The trick was to get the tuna to focus on either the lure or the cube rather than the diver. This allowed the divers to fire a leading shot at the fish as they moved in to feed while distracted by the bait.

Many great reef species are still on offer through July, including southern rock lobster, however it's important to be aware that the taking of female rock lobster ended on June 1.

For the keen diver there are many delicacies on offer. Target species this month include snook (short fin pike), sea sweep, King George whiting, silver trevally, Australian salmon, longfin pike and abalone, just to name the most prevalent.

It's also the best time of year to target scallops in the Melbourne/Port Phillip Bay Area. We also start to see the influx and congregation of calamari at this time of year in the bays as they move into lay their eggs in the shallow weed beds.

In July, the number one priority is to stay warm. Wetsuits in the minimum 5mm range are the order of the day. I also use a 3mm vest under my suit for extra warmth. Suits comprising of two pieces are the ideal configuration; 5mm long johns and a 5mm hooded top are perfect. This gives an overall 10mm thickness through the body/torso area and keeps the diver very warm.

Limiting dives to the 3-4 hour mark is also very sensible. Suits have taken a huge leap forward in recent years with open cell neoprene and also titanium-lined versions being the best on offer. Open cell or body seal suits have been around for 10+ years now and are extremely warm. As suggested by the name, they create a tight seal to the body but do require some form of lubrication to get in to. Generally divers use either a mix of soapy water or baby oil to make putting the suit on much easier.

Alternatively, titanium-lined suits are the newer technology and do not require a lubricant to get on. The titanium lining also reflects natural body heat helping to keep the diver both warm and comfortable.

July is still a great month to be in the water so gear up against the cold!

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