As we trudge on towards winter, it’s a little less inviting to drag the wetsuit on, but don’t let the cold put you off as both the reef and bluewater spearing is fantastic at this time of year.
Through March and April we saw a continued build up of southern bluefin tuna, with plenty of fish in the shallows off the North Shore at Portland. Fish have been as shallow as 6-7m and large schools of fish in the 10-25kg range have been permanent residents in the area. Numbers of fish will only increase as we move into the colder months and the real peak period for SBT. May will see fish from the shallows of the North Shore to the shelf and everywhere in between and we are expecting another amazing season.
The end of May also sees the running of the first ‘Bluefin Battle,’ hosted by Shipwreck Coast Skindivers Inc, the Port Fairy based spearfishing club. This promises to be an extremely popular competition. Rules and requirements to enter this comp can be found on our Facebook Page – ‘Shipwreck Coast Skindivers Inc,’ and our website www.shipwreck coastskindivers.com.
Targeting SBT through May is no different to any other month in the peak of the season. Divers should simply head out and remain observant of bird activity. Birds diving indicate schools of tuna that are up on the surface feeding, and once we get the boat in close to the school it’s a simple matter of throwing handfuls of pilchards into them to hold the fish around the boat. It’s always a good idea for divers to enter the water in a minimum of pairs and allow one diver at a time to take his/her shot so as the partner can assist if needed. This kind of tag team spearing is the safest way to go about bluewater hunting. It’s also advisable to have a boat handler to drive the boat and stay close to the divers as well as keep the berley going to hold the fish.
Inshore diving in May is great in the southwest, as we generally get more settled weather patterns which makes access to some of the rugged inshore reefs more achievable. Southern Rock Lobster are in good numbers along the coastline in the shallower waters after migrating in from slightly deeper water. Some of our winter pelagic species like Australian salmon are also abundant at this crossover period between autumn and winter. Sheltered sand holes bordered by reef and weed banks have no shortage of King George whiting and the seaward sides and rougher white water areas of the same reefs often produce a feed of sea sweep.
As always it’s a must to dive safely by flying a ‘diver below flag’ off your boat and personal float towed with the diver. Safety equipment such as a reflective mirror for signalling and a whistle are also essential and can be carried on your float. Get out and enjoy what the month of May has to offer and above all do it safely.Reads: 1963