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Competition – What’s your favourite fish

Red Morwong

Want to score a Fish Chilla fish cooler bag from DryStore? To launch our second generation Fish Chilla Bags we’re giving away a Pelagic Fish Chilla.

Fish Cooler BagsIt’s simple! Let us know in the comments section below, what’s your favourite fish to target and why? It could be any fish for any variety of reasons, but rest assured we will be rewarding creativity. From the humble red morwong to the bold black marlin, dig deep, conjure the emotion and get descriptive!

Competition closes end of August with winners to be announced following.

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Spearfishing; Why I Love It

record yellowfin bream

Spearfishing is a unique lifestyle. Every time something incredible happens underwater, the passion to dive is reignited. Sometimes you come home with a fish for your efforts, other times, an interaction with some unsuspected sea creature is more than reward enough.

This video is from one of those awesome days, when the ocean provides it all, excitement, fear, elation and the gift of a beautiful and tasty fish to eat. The kind of emotions you can only experience by getting in touch with the elements.

 

monster bream school of bream underwater shark bay sea snake shark bay spearfishing

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How To Get Good At Spearfishing…

Seals With Spearfisherman

Recent discussion and debate on social media has raised the question, “what makes a good spearo?” with different points of view coming from a range of sources. Asking 10 spearos about what makes a good spearo will probably elicit 10 different answers, but some central concepts will be present in most definitions. Below I’ve shared a list of what (in my experience) makes a good spearo.

Respect

Respect comes at the top of my list. Respecting the ocean, practising sustainable methods and respecting other divers is a critical component in the future of spearfishing. The more we can encourage new spearos to respect, the brighter the future will be in terms of access and acceptability. If a spearo is happy to just chase fish in the shallows, catch a feed and show respect to what is going on around them, then in my books they are on the right track.

Bream Spearfishing

Experience

Experience teaches a spearo when and where to find fish, what the best gear is for a situation and how to approach certain fish in certain situations. Experience grows with time in the water and can be accelerated by learning from other divers (of all skill levels). Observing the techniques used by other spearos helps to build knowledge of the underwater world. Experience diving in different conditions, different climates and different countries not only helps to improve fish sense but also reinforces a respect for the ocean.

seal

Spearing Fish

Spearing fish to eat is a obviously a key component of spearfishing. A good spearo learns how to select fish to spear and eat. Whether that fish is a 10kg snapper or a 500 gram bream, a good spearo will consider the situation and only take what they need. Knowing when you have enough fish and showing the restraint to put the speargun away is definitely a trait of a good spearo. Some species are vulnerable to spearfishing and good divers know how to spread their take across a range of species and a range of locations.

Baldchin grouper

Age

Can a young spearo be a good spearo or is it reserved only for divers with 20+ years in the water?

I think that there are some incredibly skilled and respectful young spearos that are building a promising future for spearfishing. If a spearo can display the qualities listed above, I would afford them respect regardless of age. Sharing stories and experiences is a big part of the spearo community and some great yarns are spun by young spearos too.

No fish, or gun, or rig, is ever worth risking blackout by diving too deep for too long.

Add your thoughts?

Let me know what you think makes a good spearo and I’ll update the post accordingly.

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Samsonfish, to eat or not to eat.

Not every dive trip goes to plan. No matter how well organised and prepared you are, there are elements beyond control that can dictate dive trips. A trip that was planned with fish like spanish mackerel, dhufish and baldchin grouper in mind, was quickly downgraded to a ‘catch-anything-we-can-to-eat’ kind of trip.

Closed Roads

Waking early and setting out on our drive up the coast to a secluded dive spot, we had no idea about the raging fires burning in the northern suburbs of Perth. After an hour of driving, smoke clouds appeared and we were soon greeted with a road block. With very few ‘kayak accessible’ dive spots in the northern beaches of perth, we bit the bullet and headed south with our tails between our legs.

ebs

Luckily the seabreeze wasn’t due to come in till after lunch, so we had a few hours of diving off the Rockingham. We jumped in the kayak and paddled a couple of kilometers out to sea in search of some deeper reefs to explore. Even that far out, the water depth was only 8-10mtrs and the ground was weedy with small ledges.

freediver

Diving through the caves, there were a few small crays hanging under the overhangs. With a school of 50 scuba divers ferreting around with nooses, we decided they could probably use a break and left them alone.

While stalking in a cave, a small samsonfish swam over my head and after brief consideration I took the shot and killed the fish. On the East Coast where sambos are far less common, we have speared and eaten a few and they have always been excellent eating (similar to yellowtail kingfish). Sambo’s on the West Coast however are often disregarded as an eating fish with reports of some bigger fish having mushy flesh. Being a small fish (around 4kg) I decided it would be a good size to try on the plate.

samblo

I put the fish straight on ice and the fillets came off firm and white.

So what have your experiences been? Do sambos make their way into your esky?

fillets flesh

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Hamelin Bay, Kayak Spearfishing Paradise!

The biggest hurdle to catching a feed of fish in South West of WA is finding them. There are a range of delicious reef fish on offer, it’s just about finding the right spots to look.

With a couple of days off after Christmas, we decided to load the car with our dive gear and kayak and head down the south coast. Our destination was Hamelin Bay, just south of Margaret River. As the bay has a lot of reef to explore, we thought the kayak would be a great way to cover ground to drift and find the fishy spots. The water was pretty chilly at 17 degrees, but thankfully my 7mm dive top to keep me comfortable.

hamlin-bay

After only a short paddle from the ramp we found a couple of shallow reefs that looked nice. Straight into the water and we snooped a squid that was hanging on the weed edge. The day was off to a good start. Along the way we spotted a number of King George Whiting, but they dodged both of our spears in typical whiting fashion.

A sneaky Breasea Cod appeared who was a little too confident for its own good and ended up on the bbq that night for dinner. Breaksea Cod are one of my favourite eating fish with firm white fillets about as good as you can get.

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After swimming into the shallows to have some lunch we found a few more KGW lurking in the shallows. Luckily, one of the bigger whiting hung around just long enough for me to finally land one.

whiting

We finally had enough fish for a feed, so enjoyed the rest of the morning diving with some of the friendly resident fish and swimming through the cool limestone caves in the bay.

blue-grouper

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Why I Kill My Own Fish

Bringing up spearfishing in the wrong conversation group can be met with ghastly silences and mortified looks of disgust.. YOU MURDERER!

Spearfishing is a privilege that a fortunate few get to experience. It takes years of practise, skill and a degree of fitness to enter the ocean, seek out a target species and take home a feed of fish.

This article addresses the reasoning and reality of understanding where our fish comes from and choosing an ethical and sustainable way to catch seafood.

Mangrove Jack

Sustainability

As science continues to reveal the extent of the damage being done to our oceans by unsustainable mass production commercial fishing practises, a movement is growing to understanding where our fish comes from and take responsibility for the seafood we put in our mouths. For the vast majority, fish comes from a can, frozen box or supermarket deli. Information about the origin and sustainability of these fish is hard to come by. Few consumers read ‘purse seine caught’ on their labels and imagine the carnage of an entire school of tuna, the size of a football field, being ringed up in a net and dragged out of the ocean along with any animal unlucky enough to be nearby.

To eat fish that haven’t contributed to wasteful by-catch or the depletion of a vulnerable species is only possible through intimate knowledge of where it comes from, or to fish recreationally. Spearfishing is unique in the level of information available before any impact is had on a fish. A diver can choose a fish species and size before catching it.

I love eating seafood and take comfort in knowing that the seafood I consume comes from a sustainable source. Selecting the size of the fish I take means I don’t take more than I need.

Ethical Seafood

Pink Snapper Spearfishing
A perfect shot killed this pink snapper instantly.

A big part of the disdain shown towards spearfishing comes from the act of propelling a metal spear into a fish. Envisaging the same act being committed against a human is barbaric but the reality is somewhat different underwater.

An experienced spearfisher will line up a shot and place a spear directly into the brain or spine of a fish, rendering it instantly dead or paralysed most times. This is the most humane method of taking a wild free swimming fish out of the ocean. Large scale commercially caught fish most likely endure an horrific end to their lives. From slowly drowning in a net while crushed under the weight of an enormous school of fish, to hanging hooked to a long-line overnight, there isn’t a simple quick way to take strong healthy free swimming fish out of the ocean.

Smaller commercial operations like hand lining are more humane in the way they treat fish.

Yellowfin Bream
The most ethical and sustainable way to eat seafood is to catch it yourself, not to mention it tastes great.

Carbon Footprint

Wild local fish have a much smaller carbon footprint than imported fish, especially farmed fish which often require huge inputs for the yield. Swimming out, catching a fish, filleting it and cooking it removes a number of the steps that are required to commercially prepare a fish for sale minimising the environmental impact of eating fish.

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Health

Although study into the benefits of recreational fishing is limited, recent studies are showing health benefits are both mental and physical. Getting out and freedive spearfishing is an amazing way to stay healthy both physically and mentally. There are few greater satisfactions than interacting with wild aquatic creatures big and small. Practised the right way, spearfishing is one of the most environmentally friendly methods of catching fish.

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Spearfishing and Freediving – Dont Mix

This isn’t an article discouraging Freedive Spearfishing, rather a separation of competitive freediving/freedive training and spearfishing. Together they can be a lethal combination if not respected as separate disciplines and increase the risk of shallow water blackout.

The big difference, and key danger is the rate at which a diver progresses in terms of the depths dived and the duration of dives. Most people of a reasonable fitness are capable of taking a freedive course and diving to a depth of around twenty meters after just two days. Learning to spearfish naturally, listening to the bodys calls for air, it could be 5-10 years before comfortably diving to 20mtrs.

Spearfishing – More than a Breath HoldIMG_1818

Spearfishing information has never been more readily available and publicly shared than in todays YouTube/FaceBook era. A natural side effect of this is a pushing of the boundaries in terms of the fish and the depths they are chased in. There are a number of key factors that contribute to becoming a skilled spearfisher, ordered below:

  1. Opportunity – Being in the right place at the right time is the most critical factor. Knowing when and were to go is paramount to securing a target species.
  2. Fish Sense – Knowing how to approach a fish, how to blend into the environment and entice a fish closer without scaring it. Understanding the nuances of each species chased and appling that knowledge in the right situation.
  3. Diving Skill – Being able to dive well is important, but without the two factors above you might as well be diving in a pool.

Considering this, the focus when learning to spearfish should be on the first two factors, but is often placed on the third. When the end goal is to catch a fish, a fish caught in 2mtrs of water is the same as a fish caught in 20mtrs. Speaking to relatively new spearfishers, a common theme is… I wish I could go deeper. Diving deeper as you progress is fine, but the risk of shallow water blackout increases exponentially when divers feel the need to dive deeper quicker than they are comfortable with and turn to competitive freedive training as a quick fix.

Competitive Freedive Training – Not a Means to More Fish

Competitive freedive training is about training the body to resist it’s urges to breath and relaxing through oxygen debt and the contractions that come with it. Learning to override the natural urges to breath, doesn’t instantly change your physicality. It’s like only ever running your car down to 1/2 a tank of petrol before refueling, then learning that you can pretty comfortably run it down to 1/4 tank without too many dramas. The problem is that we don’t always understand how big the tank is, especially those new to diving and still learning their body’s signs.iIMG_1926

The key to Freedive Safety is always having someone watching your back. This however doesn’t translate to spearfishing, where dedicated buddy systems are preached but not always practised and not always practical. While diving deeper might seem like a logical way to catch more fish, in practice deeper diving takes more recovery time resulting in less dives and more opportunity for fish to spot a diver descending. Diving in shallow water and hunting fish more effectively can yield better results.

Spearfishing and Freedive Training Coming Together

A dangerous scenario occurs when someone new to spearfishing with a competitive personality decides they want to dive deeper and try to achieve that through competitive freedive training. New is a relative term, and some people learn to read their body quicker than others. There are a number of ways to train train your body to be comfortable during oxygen deprivation and most can be found online.

What is often overlooked is the consequence of pushing too far… Death.

While it sounds shocking, the sad reality is that pushing the limits of oxygen tolerance leads to a temporary shut down of the brain. During a dive, without immediate assistance this inevitably leads to drowning and death.

While no freediver is immune to the risk of Black Out, this competitive edge to dive deeper, early on in spearfishing is by far the highest risk category.

Freediving courses offer some excellent insight into safe diving practices, so if having read this article and still craving a few more seconds a few meters further down, make sure to get the right advice from trained freedive coaches. Undoubtedly they will have experienced the tragic loss that blackout causes and give the best guidance to avoid it.IMG_3190

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Diving the North West – Rock Candy

The Rock Candy crew did an awesome job of laying out our article from our recent trip up north. It’s awesome to be promoting sustainable spearfishing outside of the normal realm, hopefully we can inspire a few of the FIFO workers to get out on the water on their off swings!

We’ll publish a few of the great pics that didn’t make the article in the coming weeks along with some videos of the trip.

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6 tips – Diving for Crays

Western Rock Lobster

These six tips for cray diving will get you started on the quest for some of those tasty Cray’s!

Diving for Crays

1. Leave no stone unturned, Crays turn up anywhere.

Crays can pop up anywhere from the shallowest rock to the very edge of a reef in less than a meter. I’ve found coral Cray’s above the low water mark when swimming in from a dive and most cray species can be found right up into the shallows where they scavenge a feed. Some of the biggest crays I’ve found have come out of less than 10mtrs depth, often 2-4mtrs.

Huge Cray Underwater

2. Take a torch, Crays Love the dark.

Spearfishing with a torch is not permitted in some states so check your regs, but as far as I understand, there is no rule against using a torch for Cray’s. A torch can shine a light on hidden Cray’s and is particularly good in poor visibility! Don’t be tempted to reach for crays that you can just make out at the back of a deep crack or cave. Plenty of time can be wasted trying in vain to reach a cray that is out of reach, move on to the next hole.

Timmy Forster

3. Good set of Gloves.

Don’t risk it with flimsy gloves. Get some decent gloves from a hardware that won’t let the cray get the better of your hands. I like rubber dipped gloves, they last a decent time although they don’t provide much warmth when diving in cold water.

Christian with Cray

4. Don’t push it in cray holes.

No cray is worth a life and nine times out of ten you can spot a cray then plan a dive on it. If you are feeling short of air, head for the surface! Also keep a keen eye out for Wobbygong sharks as they are never far away if there are crays in a hole, and keep hands clear of Eels and Octopus that can be in the viscinity.

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5. Timing is everything.

Ask around about what’s being caught. Cray’s often all turn up at the same time, then dwindle off towards the end of the season. Big swells can see cray holes filled up so get in quick after a swell hits. Make sure its flat enough to dive though, big swells are deadly when trying to get into shallow holes.

Record Sized Cray

6. Take care of your holes.

It may seem like a cray hole is a limitless resource, but if you dive a spot too often and always take Cray’s from the same holes, you’ll start to see less and less. Spread your effort over a number of spots and you’ll never be short of a feed!

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Hit us up in the comments if you have any good tips to add!

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Spearfishing Coral Bay

Squid Artwork

Pics by Marco Frashetti

The trip north from Perth in winter has become an almost religious pilgrimage for spearos. Leaving behind cold, rough, green seas for the turquoise warm waters of the north, offers the chance to escape the southern winter into a bountiful spearfishing paradise, claiming some of the best diving in Australia. The catch? Countless hours behind the wheel, along straight flat roads dodging roos, cows, goats and boredom. Many hours can pass before you realise your mind has been out on the water instead of focused on the road.

Freedive Spearfishing

A Date To Stick By

Work is always an unfortunate prerequisite to getting out on the water and with a limited window of opportunity we had to set a date and stick to it. Murphy’s Law ensured that two weeks of zero swell and calm days were proceeded by 4mtr swell and 30knot wind predictions a week out from our trip. We packed in the fishing rods allowing for the worst possible eventuality like being land locked for the entire time.

Coral Bay Cod Boat Ramp

The Day Of Big Squid

Squid would rate as one of my favourite seafood. Not only tender and delicious, they don’t stink like fish so you don’t have to wash your hands a hundred times after cleaning your catch. With the swell well and truly dictating our course we headed south to try our luck inside the reef. On entry the local Coral Trout and Tuskfish taunted us, seeming to know they were off limits to spearos. A ludicrous rule almost as bad as the recently amended restriction on diving for crays in the Abrolhos. As I moved over a patch of weedy bottom I had to double take on shape laying motionless near the bottom. At first I thought I was looking at a cuttlefish, but as it moved I realised it was an enormous Squid.
Approaching squid is often best done by swimming along on the surface trying to get straight above them before diving to make a shot from above. A squid on the horizontal leaves you with a very small target to aim for and generally won’t hang around to let you get a good shot.
I made no mistake and aimed for the meatiest target. The obligatory ink cloud formed and a withering squid emerged. Squid can be a little creepy to handle in the water, trying desperately to sucker anything within reach.

Squid Spearfishing

Last day rewards

We dropped the pick at the edge of a distant reef passage and the current was howling. A good sign for pelagics, but not a good spot to drop anchor. We headed a little further inside the reef to the edge of a drop off and it was on fire. Chinaman, Japanese Seabream, Spanish Mackerel, big Trout, some enormous Blackspot tuskies all scouting around like there was some sort of fish convention going on. As I lay on the bottom in wait for one of the flighty Emperor I heard a gun go off and turned in time to see a nice Mackerel swimming over my head with a spear attached. With fish on ice, our attention turned to targeting some of the nice reef fish.

Spangled Emperor Spearfishing

I was yet to get a fish but with the guts of the mackerel drifting down, the flighty Spangled Emperor couldn’t resist. I managed to time a dive well and land on top of a great fish and place a good holding shot behind the pectoral fin. A good note to end the trip on.

Making It Home

The trip came to an end almost as quickly as it begun, and long drive lay ahead. Three big days on the water and we were exhausted. We decided to take an extra day for the return leg and give the night driving a miss. Looking back it was incredible to think that you could plan a trip with such bad weather yet still get such amazing diving.

Spanish Mackerel Spearfishing

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Tasty Demersals -Spearfishing Albany

Spearfishing Albany Dhufish

The Albany crew Grayson Delury and Deacon Plant struck gold with some delicious bottom dwelling fish out of Albany.

The south west is an awesome place to dive with crystal visibility and a wide range of nice fish to chase, the only down side is the ever increasing number of Great Whites cruising past.

Most of the popular target species for spearfishermen in Albany can be found in under 15mtrs of water, but a few of the harder to find fish lurk in the depths.

Spearfishing Albany Dhufish Spearfishing Nannygai Albany

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Maximum Size Snapper

Fish Cooler Bag Snapper

Having not only a minimum size, but also a maximum size on fish can make it very difficult for spearfisherman to stick within the rules. Judging fish lengths underwater gets easier with experience, but having to select snapper between 50-70cm makes life very difficult.

Diving in shark bay recently we came across a mega school of snapper in a wide range of sizes. Diving down onto the sand and waiting, built up the schools confidence and before long a range of fish would be circling above.

Swimming ahead of the school I came across two big fish sleeping on the weed. I dropped down silently above them, and lined up, getting closer and closer until I was within 50cm of the fish. While drifting down, I was trying to get a sense of the size of the fish, and the closer I got the bigger they looked. I would estimate the two fish were well over 80cm, around 7kg and well over the max size.

Swimming back to the school I picked a fish that I thought would be in the range and it measured just over the 50cm minimum size. Having to be so picky certainly adds a new dimension to diving and the pleasure of swimming with so many snapper is never dull!

Pink Snapper Shark Bay Fish Cooler Bag Snapper

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Sight Fishing in Shark Bay

Shark Bay Bream

Some places fished, remain etched in your memory long after the fillets have been fried. Shark bay has been a frequently driven past location, but with a few extra days free on a recent trip up north we made our way up to Denham to check out the sights and get into some spearfishing and fishing.

Shark Bay Fishing Spot

Birds Eye View

Standing on the cliffs offers an amazing view of the aquatic playground below. Sharks and rays patrol the edges of big shoals of fish, all looking to scavenge a feed. The schools of fish were more than enough encouragement to don to dive gear and jump in for a spear.

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At first we could only see a school of what looked like tailor, but then we noticed a school of mulloway milling beneath, big shimmers of silver appearing occasionally.

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As we had guessed the fish were tailor darting around the shallow water.

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Dinner For Two

Once wet, we bee lined for the fish and sure enough there were masses of tailor, bream and small tuskfish darting through the shallows. Selecting a fish for tea, we decided on a nice bream and took a big one for dinner, feeding us both easily. Spearfishing is the ultimate way to pick what fish you want to eat.

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The next morning we were up early to find some lunch and this time spotted a school of squid at the same spot. Squid are much easier to take by line than by spear as they can be very wary of divers.  After some seriously treacherous cliff hanging I made my way down to where they were milling with Ebony directing from above. A well placed squid jig is pretty much irresistible and we had a couple of squid from a couple of casts. Winning!

SquidCliff

Squid Squid1 Make the trip!

Shark Bay is definitely worth the trip for anyone that loves fishing and the ocean. With huge bays you are just about guaranteed to find somewhere to get in the water or wet a line, and there is a remarkable variety of fish in the water.

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Commercial Diving A Glimpse From Below

commercial-diving

As a keen freediver and spearo, the thought of merging a passion with a career can seem appealing. Taking ADAS courses and becoming a commercial diver offers the chance to spend your days underwater, but does a passion for diving translate into the world of commercial diving or does it take the fun out of your hobby? I recently had the chance to head out with a couple of experienced commercial divers for a look at what its all about. I asked experienced diver and spearo Derek Dufall a few questions about his experiences in the diving industry. Read my interview with Derek below:

Dive-Boat

How did you get into commercial diving?

I got into commercial diving through my love of the ocean and some of my good spearo friends who where abalone divers. I started working for them then eventually got to lease an ab licence. We have plenty of free time in the abalone industry so we also dive commercially for aquarium fish while we aren’t chasing abs. We have slowly grown this business over the years and its now a big part of what we do. I’ve been diving professionally for around 22 years in a variety of jobs including abalone diving, aquarium fish, coral and invertebrate collecting, scientific research diving, commercial cray diving(no longer in practise), moorings installation and service, boat salvage, underwater welding constructing slipways and jettys.

Aquarium Diving

About ten years ago, we met a commercial diver who worked around Perth doing moorings, salvaging sunken boats and the occasional construction job. He talked us into doing our commercial dive tickets and since then we have found that moorings and salvage fit into our aquarium and abalone down time.  I particularly enjoy the salvage work, recovering boats that have come unstuck.

commercial-diving

Did you find being a spearo made it easier, and why?

Being a spearo is generally viewed well in the commercial world. Spearos tend to be very comfortable in the water and can concentrate on the task at hand.

Do you still go spearing as much as before you were a commercial diver?

No, I don’t go spearing anywhere near as much as I use to, but I still love spearing I don’t tend to go out local but I always manage 3 to 4 spearing trips away a year with some close friends.

Commercial-Dive-Boat

 What is your favourite part of the job and what motivates you to get your wetty on every morning?

It’s like any job. Some days you just don’t get excited by the idea of going to work, but once in the water I am at home and enjoy getting the job done. Nowadays we are lucky enough to have learned that when the weather is horrible we just call the day off. In the long run it’s a smart thing to do. As a commercial diver you have to understand that not every day is a work day and we are at the mercy of the ocean.

Chain Underwater

What are some of the dangers involved with the work you do?

There are many potential dangers, the most obvious are: running out of air, sharks and the bends. They can be minimised with good diving practices and a good team around you. The dangers I think and worry about are when we are dealing with heavy chain, anchors, clump weights and tow ropes. When placed under strain they need to always be treated with great caution and respect.

 

Would you recommend the industry to young Spearos considering a career in diving and why?

Yes but my path into and through commercial diving is no longer a good way to go. Nowadays I would advise doing part one and two commercial tickets. Get some varied experience on fish farms and onshore commercial work to get your foot in the door and then do your part three and look at offshore work. Its hard to make a living as a commercial diver without working away from Perth.

 

Surface-Supplied-Air

 

 

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Queen Snapper – Gear Testing Fish Cooler Bags

One of the great things about running a business selling Fish Cooler Bags, is that you have to go and test them out as often as possible. Not that we ever need an excuse to go and catch a feed of fish, but with new products in need of testing, there even more reason to get wet.

The South West of WA is truely one of the best locations to spearfishing in Australia. With consistent 15-20mtr Vis and an ample list of delicious species on offer, it is one of the best cold water spearfishing areas in the world. The selection of 5 star eating reef fish is unparalleled with Dhufish, King George Whiting, Queen Snapper, Harlequin Cod, Long Snout Boarfish, Nannygai, Pink Snapper and Breaksea Cod. Add to this a range of big pelagics including Samsons, Kingfish and Tuna and it’s about as good as it gets.

Spearfishing the South West

Accessing The Dive Spots

The coastline is rugged with big sweeping bays and protected coves, allowing for spearfishing in pretty average conditions. When the wind picks up from the South West many of the dive spots can be accessed without a 4wd but with an easterly a 4wd comes in handy.

Big Queen Snapper

Quickest Catch On Record

With a mission to catch a few nice table fish we headed off in search of a calm spot to dive.  About an hour from Albany we came to a protected spot that looked pretty calm to get in. Having to improvise without a float and diving in an area not accessible by boats we swam out with a drink bottle tied off to the float line. We had no intention of spearing anything big enough to pull a speargun out of the hands so it was mainly just for storing fish and keeping an eye on each other.

After Swimming along the sand line and picking up a few KGW I dove into a crack and was pleased to see some nice Brown Lip Abalone hanging upside down in the cave. I scraped a couple out and was about to head in when I saw a big Queeny sleeping in a gutter. I lined up a kill shot and I had penty of fish for a feed after only 20 minutes. 2 nice KGW a Big Queenfish and a brownlip ab in about 8 dives no deeper than 12mtrs… Talk about an easy feed.

Nice Catch

We made our way back to the car and measured up the queeny on our Fish Cooler Bag which came in at 82cms and had some tasty fillets.

Another awesome dive in the South West! 

Fish Cooler Bag

We had a couple of frozen drink bottles in the Fish Chilla bag and left the fish in the bag while we went for lunch in town and by the time we got home 2 hours later the fish were nice and cool and the boot of the car was fish juice free!

Fish Kill Bag

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Fish Cooler Bag Review

Fish Cooler Bag Wahoo

Marke Geide was one of the first to put our new Fish Cooler Bags to the test. With a few nice fish landed Mark put the Fish Chilla to good use and sent us through a few pics of their day out.

Fish Cooler Bag Wahoo

Mark is using the Pelagic Fish Chilla Bag which was perfect for these long Wahoo.

 

Mulloway In Fish Cooler Bag

A couple of nice Mangrove Jacks made it a great days catch. 

Hoo

 

Thanks for sending through the pics Mark and I’m sure you had a few nice feeds from the fish!

 

We’ll keep a look out for more reviews of our Fish Cooler Bags, feel free to send us a comment below if you have one to add!

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Weedy Seadragons In Albany WA

Sea Dragons are among the most obscure and ornate sea creatures in Western Australia. What they lack in swimming ability, they make up for in camouflage, blending into the surrounding weed and disappearing out of view in the blink of an eye.

The two species are found along here in Albany, the Weedy Sea Dragon and the Leafy Sea Dragon, the later being harder to find due to it’s incredible weed like appendages.

Having unsuccessfully scoured the weed line for a sea dragon during a recent trip to Kangaroo Island, finding one within a kilometre of our front door while working was pretty exciting. The time couldn’t come soon enough to get in the water and try to photograph one.

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We scrambled down some rocks and jumped in the water with high hopes, and after only 10 minutes of swimming the sand edge, while waiting for Ebony to catch up, the first weedy sea dragon appeared underneath. A male carrying his sack of eggs under his tail.

 

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Male Weedy Sea Dragon’s carry the eggs under their tail.

 

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Blink and you’ll miss it…

We took a couple of photos and left him in peace, pretty happy to have found one. To our surprise less than 20 metres further along another appeared, then another, and a fourth. A few more photos and the cold started to creep in and we called it a day.

Diver with Weedy Sea Dragon
Freediving is a great way to get close to a dragon without disturbing them too much.
A smaller Weedy Dragon amongst the weed
A smaller Weedy Dragon amongst the weed

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Drystore Launch new Fish Cooler Bag

Fish Esky Bag

DryStore are pleased to announce that after extensive R&D they have developed the new “Fish Chilla” bags for the Australian fishing market.

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A Space Saver

Designed to quickly cool fish down, these insulated fish cooler bags have a host of great features to ensure that fish is kept to the highest standard while out fishing in the hot sun. For too long the cumbersome esky has been a standard in boats, but limited deck space is a thing of the past with these great new fish cooler bags rolling up to a bare minimum allowing maximum space on-board.

Fish Esky Bag

Built To Last

Sourcing the best materials is a critical part of any R&D process and in the case of the Fish Chilla, DryStore invested heavily in finding the right material and the final product is built from the same heavy duty 1200D PVC material that is used in the construction of inflatable boats.

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Cooler Down Quicker

With the flexibility of the materials, the Fish Chilla bag can mould around its contents, unlike a traditional esky which contains copious dead air space. This means the cold is trapped against the fish, bringing their temperature down quicker than a traditional esky.

New Fish Chilla BagFish Cooler Bag

Buy Online Now!

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Fish and Fun all in a days work Ab diving.

Diving for abalone is like entering an underwater playground, expecting the unexpected. With a variety of fish to be spotted and always inquisitive seals hanging around, there is never a dull moment.

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Finding abs requires a lot of scouting and searching which means there is a good chance of spotting some unusual and interesting species of fish, like the Harlequin Cod, a very beautiful cold water species that resembles a coral trout.

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Scouting through caves offers the chance to find brownlip abalone, a cave dwelling Abalone the grows to impressive sizes.

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D-Day: An introduction to Abalone diving in South Western Australia

Starting a new job is always a nerve racking experience, but when the transition involves leaving the safety and comfort of a computer screen, for the cold sharky waters of the south west, less than a week after a fatal attack in the area, I had a lot on my mind.

abalone underwater

With a farewell to my lovely wife I took off on an adventure to find a new direction, combining my passion for the underwater world with a career in Abalone diving. Three years of office jobs left my body soft and I was feeling the call to escape the mundane and venture out into the blue water. My ever supportive wife had also had enough of the city and knowing that my heart is in the ocean she supported the move.

Abalone Diver

Safety in the water is always relative to the people around you. Working in and around the ocean can attract a lot of unsavoury characters, often using the ocean to escape. Escape from their past, escape from responsibilities and escape from reality. Happening to make contact with an experienced, safety conscience and intelligent Abalone diver that was willing to take me on, was an omen and an undeniable call to get in the water. Opportunities like that are few an far between, so I made the call to take the jump and try my hand at an increasingly dangerous but rewarding career.

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The first day is always a nervous one. Even after many years of diving, having to prove yourself in the water and find your rhythm isn’t always easy. A new 7mm suit meant I was bobbing around like a cork without enough lead, I needed to be heavier to get down and stay around the bottom. With a borrowed belt I took that first dive down to the ocean floor with the hookah hose trailing behind me to the surface, my life support system underwater to keep me breathing for the next hour.

For a brief moment I was distracted and the thought of sharks crept in, but then the task at hand took over and I was off in pursuit of my instructor. We glided over the sandy weedy bottom in search of our targets, the green lip Abalone. Once we struck a patch there were bound to be a few nice ones in the area, a small congregation about to be spoilt by the Abalone Iron, prising them from the rocks sometimes the easy way, other times the hard way with brute force needed to release the prize.

Back on deck, there was shucking to do. Prepping the abalone so they look good even after their long voyage to a plate in China. With a cargo this valuable, it gets well taken care of.

After a good first day we headed in and pulled the boat onto the trailer. Day one behind me with a lot to learn and a couple a good teachers to guide me.

The winds were turning out of favour and a huge swell was on the way so tomorrow would be a down day…

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3 Spearguns I Would Recommend To a Mate

Aimrite Handle

Buying a Speargun can be a minefield of decisions based on what fish you want to target, where you will be diving and how much you want to spend. Buying a cheap speargun under $200 might seem like a good idea, but often spending a little more will give you a gun that will last a lot longer without an upgrade. In this guide to buying a speargun I’ve outlined 3 spearguns that I would (and often do) recommend to mates.

There are many factors that affect how a speargun will perform and they can all be rigged and customised to suit different situations. This list is for “Off the Shelf” spearguns and lists the reasons why. There are no “Canon Speaguns” on the list as they are designed to suit a pretty small number of situations and not regular diving.

Speargun Recommendation 1

Aimrite Venom

My most recent gun has very quickly become my favourite. Solid enough to run well with double rubbers, yet light enough to manoeuvre through the water. Made from Carbon fibre they have the properties I like about a wooden gun, like that solid feel when you pull the trigger, without being cumbersome in the water. These guns are not the cheapest on the market but will definitely get you years of use and abuse, and a lifetime warranty to back it up is a good insurance plan! Plus they are the only Aussie guns on my list.

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Speargun Recommendation 2

Freedivers Evolution Railgun

I used my freedivers gun religiously for around 2 years until it eventually bounced out of the back of a ute traveling up to a remote dive spot in the Kimberley. In the time I had the gun I never changed the spear once. Even though I was targeting smaller reef fish it was still impressive that the spear didn’t rust out over that time. The build quality of the gun itself wasn’t its best feature, the trigger much casing cracked, but for the price these guns are an awesome first gun or backup gun!

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Speargun Recommendation 3

Rob Allen

Third up on the list is the old trusty Rob Allen Railgun. Its uncommon to meet a keen spearo that doesn’t own one or at least has previously owned one. Off the shelf they have a comfortable handle, are very light and easy to manoeuvre. I would try to avoid the scorpia model and go for the sparid model as it has a much studier feel.

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Let us know in the comments below what spearguns you recommend when someone asks you and we’ll add them to the list, Plus you could win a DryPhone Case

What Speargun brand do you recommend to your mates?

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Shark Repellent Wetsuit | North Western Australia


 

On a recent trip up to north WA Drystore tested out a shark repellent theory we had been contemplating for some time…

It involved the new Aimrite Wetsuit, some acrylic paint and a stencil. The rest just fell into place.

Not A Seal Stencil Laying down seal stencil

The theory of repelling sharks using a wetsuit technology holds great merit. Sure sharks have incredibly sensitive ampullae of Lorenzini, small vesicles and pores that form part of an extensive subcutaneous sensory network system, but heck lets face it, they have one prey on their mind when they see a diver… Seals

Shark Repellent Wetsuit

 

This new repellent technology focuses less on the sharks sensory systems and more on their insatiable appetite for seals. By simply informing sharks that we are not infact seals, we can put up a smoke screen and make a hasty exit before they think twice about tasting, this very seal like creature!

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Australian Spearfishing Titles – Kangaroo Island

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How good are you at Spearfishing?

Do you fancy yourself against the best spearos in the country? Make the effort to get down to the Australian Spearfishing Titles at Kangaroo Island for you chance to have your name up with the likes of Rob Torreli, Ian Puckeridge and Andy Ruddock.

Kangaroo Island Species List

Kangaroo Island is arguably one of the best temperate water spearfishing spots in Australia. With such a diverse range of species it’s possible to target anything from Nannygai, Harlequin and Boarfish to Kingfish, Pink Snapper and Bluefin Tuna.

You Can Download the full species list below.

2014 Nationals species list

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Australian Spearfishing Titles General Information

-Locations

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Selected locations for Open Heats & Interpacific swim offs are Emu Bay, Stokes Bay, Cape Cassini, Western River cove & Snellings beach.

Fin swim & Film fishing locations (yet to be disclosed)

All locations are effected by similar prevailing conditions and as such unless for special or unforeseen circumstances locations will be randomly drawn the day before heat commences.

Comp Zones pdf

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-Registration/sign on

Registration will take place on the 12/1/14 at the Ozone Hotel in Kingscote (Cnr Commercial St & Chapman Terrace) between 4pm-7pm. Schedule of proceeding events & Random draw of location of first heat (weather permitting) will be advised.

Please note that all nominated teams & pairs or any other applicable category’s MUST be registered at the sign on. This does not include Interpacific pairs which are dependent on final results.

An overview of the week ahead will be provided and there will be opportunities for competitors to ask any questions or raise any concerns.

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Cost

Competition fee $350 per competitor. Includes BBQ and soft drink on all Open individual spearfishing days and includes presentation dinner.

Junior and Sub-Junior competitors 50% discount $175.

A further $25 discount is offered to all competitors who register and pay by 30th November 2013.

-Schedule of events

Please note this is a guide only, the events may possibly have to be shuffled around due to weather or other circumstances.

Mon 13/01/14 Day 1- Open individual Spearfishing + State nominated pairs. Tues 14/01/14 Day 2- Open individual Spearfishing + State nominated 4 person

teams Wed 15/01/14 Day 3- Open individual Spearfishing or possible rest day.Thurs 16/01/14 Day 4- Open individual Spearfishing if rest day taken day 3, or rest day if not.

Fri 17/01/14 Day 5- Interpacific pairs swim off, only open to those who commit to attend if successful in swim off (Interpacific in Tahiti, probably April, May or June 2014). Limited funding available for competitors to Tahiti & requires about 8 days overseas.

Sat 18/01/14 Day 6- Film fishing & Fin swim events (locations yet to be disclosed). Presentation Night- at the Ozone Hotel in Kingscote 6pm- late (Neat dress attire required)

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-Presentation Night

Presentation night will take place at the Ozone Hotel in Kingscote from 6pm-late in the private function room (Neat Dress attire is required). A two coarse meal will be provided & drinks will also be available but not included with dinner.

Trophies and prizes will be awarded after dinner. Wining international competitors will be acknowledged but perpetual trophies must not leave Australia. Local Taxi service and mini busses will be available and contact information will be provided at presentation night.

Extra family members are able to be catered for at the presentation night at own cost. However please state how many extras you will be bringing when registering for the competition. There is a space allocated for this on the competition registration form.

Contacts

Aoura Ozone Hotel – (08) 85532011

Competition Convenor(s) Dave Scholefield – 0409598470 Sam Dawson – 0401143570

AUF National Chair Adrian Wayne – 0418282696

Registration Form

Australian Spearfishing Nationals Registration Form

Rules and Regulations

Nationals B SECTION 2014 (1)