The weather in October is certainly a welcome relief from the cold of winter and the early spring mornings of September and the better conditions make it one of my favourite months for spearfishing.
The closure of male southern rock lobster season on 15 September meant both male and female lobster are now off limits until November 15. This closure period is extremely important to protect the lobster in their peak breeding period. The upside to this is that it means avid spearfishers can now concentrate on targeting fine eating fish species and molluscs such as abalone and scallops.
October is the month we really start to see a build up of southern calamari and snapper as they move onto inshore grounds. At this time of year calamari are at there thickest in the bays around Melbourne and indeed on the far South West coast.
Squid in the 2-3kg range are not unusual and are best hunted on the shallow weed and grass beds where they congregate to breed and lay their eggs. Berley is an important tool to not only attract the calamari in the area but also to distract them as the diver stalks their prey. Berley such as pilchards are great at drawing squid closer to a diver and once a squid has locked its attention on the berley they are often completely oblivious to a diver who approaches them stealthily.
With the squid come the snapper and they are certainly a highly prized and sought after species starting in October and all through the ensuing summer. Snapper are a particularly wary fish and seem to stay just out of range. However, like squid, they are extremely receptive to berley and will feed aggressively on a liberal stream of berley.
Also, like most fish species once they are focused on feeding they seem to become far less wary of a diver and become an easier target to approach. Port Phillip Bay is the standout in terms of opportunity for divers to hunt snapper and the far South West coast is a great area to find early season snapper. Locations such as the North Shore at Portland, The Crags and Killarney at Port Fairy are prime snapper hunting locations.
Other reef species that are abundant at this time of year are King George whiting, silver trevally, sea sweep and bastard trumpeter. All these fish can be found inhabiting close inshore reefs that border areas of white water. As always a bit of berley is the key to distract the fish and allow the diver the chance to move in.
Abalone are an all year round proposition but with lobster being closed, abbs are an even more attractive target to find a gourmet feed.
As we move closer to summer the diving opportunities continue to improve as do the conditions in the water. Warmer water temperatures and better water clarity make spearfishing even more enjoyable for the keen diver and as we approach the opening of the southern rock lobster season next month there is much to look forward to.Reads: 1215