August is another cold month for diving, but the keen spearos will still be braving the cold water with plenty of great species on offer.
Water temperatures in the southern ocean really drop through winter, and divers need to consider how to combat this in the most effective ways. With southern bluefin tuna still being a terrific option for avid bluewater divers in the South West of the state, and those offshore water temperatures now being at their coolest, it’s important to keep yourself as warm and comfortable as possible.
In August it’s not uncommon to see temperatures of 12°C and even lower. Keeping dives shorter, or using thicker wetsuits are the two best ways to keep off the cold. During summer, it’s not unusual to spend anywhere from 4-6 hours in the water, particularly in competitive spearfishing, while reducing dive times to 2-3 hours in the winter cold is far more realistic when socially diving with friends. During summer, I often dive with long wetsuit pants rated at 3mm thick and a 3-5mm top, in winter upgrading to 5mm pants and 5-7mm top. This can actually help greatly to extend your time in the water.
This month sees the build up of southern calamari around inshore areas as they come in to breed and lay their eggs. In the Melbourne area, the prime zones in Port Phillip Bay include Portsea, Queenscliff, St Leonards and the entrance to Swan Bay.
The best places to target are the shallow weed beds by looking for the calamari egg clusters hanging off the weed. Once these egg clusters are located, you can be sure that there are plenty of squid in the area. A little berley can help bring them in and ensures they are more focused on the berley than the diver who is stalking them. The same rules tend to apply no matter the location.
Inshore diving also offers some great bounty in August. Male southern rock lobster are still in season until mid September, and tend to be quite prolific in the shallow rock ledges right along the southwest coastline. Rocky reefs with plenty of heavy kelp growth are the prime areas to search.
An added bonus is that black lip and tiger abalone also inhabit the same areas as the lobster and make for a very tasty catch.
Australian salmon are also abundant right through winter and are often bumped into when hunting in shallow inshore areas. Reefs with sand holes adjacent are a great place to encounter salmon as well as fish like silver trevally, King George whiting, sea sweep and a host of wrasse species.
Don’t let the cold of winter keep you out of the water, as there are some awesome opportunities to hunt both in and offshore, so get out and enjoy your diving.Reads: 1989