June brings us to the coldest part of the year in both weather and water temperatures, but it also offers some of the hottest inshore and offshore diving.
As we enter winter proper at the beginning of June, it would be easy to think that spearfishers start to wind down, but in fact, we actually start to get some of the most settled weather patterns of the year. Onshore easterly winds are replaced by more offshore and westerly patterns, which are far more conducive to both land-based inshore dives as well as the predominant offshore bluewater hunting for southern bluefin and albacore tuna in the far South West.
There was a fantastic start to this tuna season, with bluefin in close on the north shore at Portland from mid January onwards making them very accessible for keen spearos. Late April and May saw plenty of fish turning up out wider, including one of the best runs of albacore seen for the last few years. Unlike bluefin, the albacore never venture in close and are predominantly found out in the deep waters of the shelf. Open water diving on the shelf brings inherent dangers, so it is very important to remain aware of your surroundings. Avoid areas being actively fished by anglers and be sure to have your float with a diver below flag clearly displayed.
Boat-based diving requires you to have a diver below flag on the boat while divers are in the water. Diving in teams or at least the minimum of pairs is also essential to back each other up as is having a boat handler who can keep an eye on the divers and any approaching boats. The boat handler can also be in charge of keeping a steady stream of pilchards going into the water to both attract and hold the tuna near the boat.
Stable weather with low swell and flat seas also means the inshore diving can be spectacular this time of year. The winter species to be targeted include King George whiting, sea sweep and southern rock lobster just to name just a few. Just keep in mind that from 1 June, female rock lobster begin their closed season and only male rock lobster can be taken.
Sea sweep are in much larger numbers at this time of the year, whereas whiting schools tend to be a little more sparse but with the general size of the fish being much larger on average in the South West.
You never quite know what you may find, even while diving shallower inshore waters and recently Mick Maheny speared a rays bream. These fish are most commonly found out over the shelf in very deep waters and I believe it may be the first ever speared and a pending Australian record.
Winter also sees an influx of Australian salmon right along the Victorian coastline. Salmon can be best targeted on slightly rougher headlands and points of bays particularly when such areas are adjacent to beaches and are a great land-based dive target.
Winter can be one of the best times of the year for spearfishing, so don’t let the cooler water deter you from getting out and enjoying what our coastline has to offer.Reads: 2055