The water is still warm and pelagics are loving it
  |  First Published: April 2017

Finally, the recent weather has been a little more cooperative. We are beginning to see a few more settled days on the ocean beaches, allowing us better scope to get away from the shore and hunt some of the summer pelagics, as well as crayfish. It’s been a long time coming.

The big news comes from the west of the state. The divers between Port Fairy and Portland have had great success with the influx of southern bluefin tuna into the near shore areas. In water as shallow as 30m, the spearos have been encountering schools of fish simply lolling at times, just below the surface.

Apparently these fish are not responding to berley and they are simply getting close enough (occasionally) out of pure curiosity. The trick is to get as high as you can on the boat, don a pair of polaroids and look for dark patches with slight ripples. Tuna birds may also be a giveaway. A quiet entry and then a short surface swim may put you right on the money.

The Port Fairy based Shipwreck Coast Spearfishing Club recently conducted a Tuna Challenge Spearing Competition. There is only one species on the list – SBT. Amazingly, for a competition of this nature, six fish were presented for weighing. This is an outstanding result and all participants must be applauded. Port Fairy local diver Mac Riddle took out the title.

The state record for southern bluefin has fallen twice in the reporting period and is expected to rise as the year progresses and more divers put in the effort to attempt their capture. The record is currently held by Dr Christian Hughes with a 27kg+ fish, speared off Julia Reef – awesome.

The boys from the west are also having great success with yellowtail kingfish with many fish taken around Lady Julia Percy Island and the north shore area of Portland. Medium sized kings are also being captured close to the Lee Breakwater. Kingfish have been relatively prevalent through the rest of the state with many speared at the Prom, Phillip Island, Cape Schanck and Flinders. These fish are also being caught by shore-based divers. A shore-based kingfish is worthy of bragging rights in Victoria.

I was fortunate enough to spear a small king with a polespear a couple of weeks ago at Point Lonsdale. On the way back to the boat I was schooled by a mob of tuna up to 20kg – opportunity lost. Next time I will get one for sure, as they don’t appear to be in any hurry to leave the area. There are massive schools of baitfish everywhere, and with them come the predators, whites included unfortunately.

Crayfish continue to take a hammering when conditions allow with some stellar examples up to 5kg being taken off the Mornington Peninsula ocean beaches. Don’t forget to dock their tails immediately upon reaching shore, lest you incur the wrath of the Fisheries officers.

King George whiting and reasonable-sized pinky snapper are also welcome visitors on the ocean beach locations throughout the state. A little berley will bring both into the area and will aid in them being a little less wary than is the norm. Feed them. Ignore them. Lull them into a false sense of security. Whack them – it’s a simple formula that works.

The seasons have been a little out of whack this year. I am now confident, however, that the worst may be behind us and we can look forward to at least two months more of warm, settled weather. Large fish will be around for three more months and the large flathead should soon be moving into the shallows. Our best spearing time is still ahead. Enjoy.

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