A king’s welcome down south
  |  First Published: December 2014

Summer is finally here and December is the beginning of the most productive time for spearfishers with great diving to be had for both pelagic and reef species.

The previous month saw some great captures of snapper and squid and also the opening of the southern rock lobster season. The far southwest of Victoria saw some great weather and some excellent diving, with members of the Shipwreck Coast Skindivers, based in Port Fairy, getting among the fish and crays.

December not only sees the continuation of this trend but an increase in water temperatures and therefore an increase in the prevalence of pelagic species. In particular, we start to see the proper build up of yellowtail kingfish along the entire Victorian coastline with the old favourite haunts still being the best places to encounter this sought after species. In the southwest, locations such as Lawrence Rock and the North Shore around Portland are the key locations and early signs through October ad November point to a great season this year. Port Fairy is also another prime location in the southwest with Killarney, The Crags and Lady Julia Percy Island being reasonably well-known haunts to target. The past few years the kings had been a bit hit and miss but through the preceding month or so we saw the arrival of blue whales and other marine creatures feeding on large patches of krill. The krill has been pushed up by the ‘Bonnie Upwellings’ off Portland and in years gone by this has coincided and indeed indicated much better seasons on the yellowtail kingfish, so fingers crossed they turn up in large numbers this year.

In the Melbourne area the islands off Wilsons Promontory are a favoured area and often hold kingfish in large numbers as well as a plethora of other great eating reef species. Cape Liptrap is another another great place to find them as well as being a great area for southern rock lobster.

When hunting kingfish, I prefer to use a gun around 1.2-1.3m with double rubbers to ensure the stopping power required for these tough fish. Kingies are often encountered while diving on other reef species and the commotion and activity of spearing other fish such as sweep often serves to attract the inquisitive kings to come in for a closer look. Other times when targeting them hanging at the head of a current and working flashers in the water can be a deadly technique to bring them in to the waiting diver.

As always, safety first, so always dive with a float displaying a diver below flag and remain aware of you're surroundings and any boats in the area. Diving in pairs is also a must not only for safety but a second diver is also handy to help subdue a hard-fighting kingfish.

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