Kings and tuna move into the shallows
  |  First Published: March 2016

March is an exciting month for spearfishing with a plethora of reef and pelagic species on offer. Continuing warm weather and plenty of fish makes for great diving across the entire state.

January and February provided an epic start to both the yellowtail kingfish and southern bluefin tuna seasons, and these two highly sought after bluewater species have been abundant in the far South West of the state.

Portland has really turned it on, with one of the best runs of kingfish in the last five years or so. Numbers have been exceptional, as has the general size of the fish on offer. As always there has been plenty of rats around, however, fish from the 9-15kg mark have been very common on the North Shore and out around Julia Percy Island.

Kings have also been great in the rest of the state and the usual haunts such as Cape Otway, Cape Schank and Wilsons Promontory have all produced some amazing fish so far this season.

The real surprise has been the southern bluefin tuna. The first reports of fish around Portland started coming in at the start of January, and although this is early, it’s certainly not unusual now. What was a little unusual was having large schools of tuna in the 10-30kg size milling around and busting up in as little as 7m of water off the North Shore at Portland. This has given the very real opportunity for divers to hunt both tuna and kingfish in the same area from a land-based shore dive, which is a very exciting proposition.

March will see a continuation of the great season we’ve already had chasing pelagic species.Even as the kingfish slowly decrease in numbers, the tuna will continue to build up. March is also one of the best months to hunt reef species like King George whiting, sea sweep, snook and southern rock lobster –just to name a few. Shallow inshore bays interspersed with weedy reef areas and sand patches in depths of 3-10m are the prime hunting grounds for such species.

As always, it’s extremely important to be aware of your surroundings while diving and always tow a float with a clearly displayed ‘Diver Below’ flag. The current run of tuna and kingfish means there is a lot of boat traffic and divers can be hard to see in the water at times.

Boat drivers have a responsibility to stay well clear of divers (100m away from ‘Diver Below’ flag), however we must also take some ownership and responsibility for our own safety. When diving, try to avoid areas of high boat traffic. It can be tempting to drop into the middle of an area where anglers are trolling lures through schools but this not only frustrates the anglers but also puts divers at increased risk. It’s far more sensible to find areas clear of boat traffic. Also, diving in pairs or groups is a great way to keep an eye out for each other.

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