Kings gone, but don’t despair
  |  First Published: April 2015

April is the month that sees the farewell to the yellowtail kingfish season. Although there has been some great captures, the season that was 2014-15 has been a little hit and miss for spearos.

The kings seemed to be there one day and gone the next but the same old haunts did produce when the conditions were right. Wilsons Prom, Cape Liptrap and the Rip were the standout areas in the Melbourne area with Portlands, North Shore, Lady Julia Percy Island and The Crags being the best areas in the South West. Julia Percy and Wilsons Prom do both 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. During February and March there were large numbers of bluefin tuna and kingfish in the Portland and Port Fairy area and at times the two species were mixed into the same schools. But as the kingfish move on due to dropping water temperatures the thoughts of keen bluewater spear fishers collectively turn to albacore and southern bluefin tuna.

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 will keep the fish actively feeding at the boat. Using 130cm dual rubber guns 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 or even in the closer shallower waters. 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 lobsters 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 are the ideal hunting grounds.

Areas such as Killarney near Port Fairy in the South West and Portsea, Queenscliff and St Leonard’s 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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