The weather conditions over the past month’s reporting period have been starkly contrasting to say the least! Mother Nature has been unable to make up her mind and, frankly, it has been doing my head in. From howling gales to balmy days, blazing sunshine followed by driving rain! We’ve also been getting giant swells followed by prolonged periods of calm.
It certainly hasn’t been boring, but I am over it now. Unfortunately, throughout this tumultuous weather rollercoaster, there has been one glaring constant. The visibility in the ocean throughout this period has remained, steadfastly, atrocious. Since December, a pool of dirty water has hugged the coast from Wilsons Promontory to Apollo Bay. Clear seas have been both unpredictable and infrequent. This is the time of year when our diving is traditionally at its most productive and enjoyable, but not so this year.
We know that there are still kingfish and tuna swimming around out there, but the limited visibility has made it almost impossible to successfully hunt them. The captures I have made have been so more by accident as a hapless fish has materialised out of the gloom. This sort of diving is not much fun, as there are other less desirable critters out there that can also materialise out of the gloom.
On a very recent trip to Great Glennie Island off the Prom, we spent several hours drifting in 25m of water with barely 3m of visibility. Trust me when I say that this does not make for a particularly pleasant experience. We did managed to find some reasonable visibility in one of the bays on the island. We made up for the lack of productive pelagic fishing by taking our frustrations out on some large King George whiting. This is certainly fun, but not the reason we make the long journey.
Both the surface and sub-surface scenery of the offshore islands off Wilsons Promontory are reason enough to travel there. Combine this spectacular vista with a stunning array of marine life and these islands have few equals when it comes to satisfying your underwater hunting and photographic hunger. Gigantic granite boulders stud the islands’ slopes. These same boulders strew the waterline also, creating spectacular caves and holes for a myriad of fish and crays to live and hide. Even without a gun, it can be breathtaking. These islands usually have very clear water and it is a huge disappointment that this year has been so dirty.
Access to the islands is obviously only by boat, and should only be attempted by confident and competent operators. There are three main launching points for those visiting Great Glennie. These are Tidal River, Walkerville and Shallow Inlet.
Tidal River is a beach launch into surf, and the distance to GG is around 13km.
Walkerville has the appearance of a ramp, but is a long way to travel, particularly on the return trip should the wind cut up hard from the west.
Our favoured launch point is from the beach at Shallow Inlet. It is a beach launch over quite hard sand and is not a difficult launch if you have half a brain. I have, however, seen quite a few cars come to grief here. Don’t be distracted and do everything with as much efficiency and as least haste as you can. The sand bar at the inlet’s entry can be a little tricky. This bar should never be underestimated, as the channel moves and the waves break for a considerable distance out from the mouth. Timing and observation as well as patience are critical if you are to safely negotiate this obstacle.
The distance from the launch point to Great Glennie Island is about 35km, and on a glassy day, the scenery as you skirt the coast and a couple of other islands is breathtaking. Once at the island, you will be able to find safe anchorage on the lee side, and the bay with the small sandy beach is a particularly good place for a stretch and a bit to eat as well as offering good fishing for whiting.
All in all, a trip to the Prom islands is well worth it. A good vessel with the right crew and the right state of mind can put you onto some of the best diving this state has to offer. But beware, going here becomes addictive, and when the kingfish are on and the visibility clear, there is no place better.Reads: 1890