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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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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Jewfish: 5 Tricks to Finding Mulloway

Mulloway or Jewfish are an illusive species to chase on coasts around Australia.

Ranging from deep to shallow water, mulloway are a popular target for divers and fishermen alike and hold a special place amongst anglers with Jew Holes kept secret and visited in the cover of darkness or when no one is around. Finding these fish can be a needle in a haystack proposition, but when you do happen upon a school, make sure you keep it to yourself or you might find within a short period of time the fish aren’t there any longer.

These 5 tricks have come about over years of looking both successfully and mostly unsuccessfully for these fish. While you might get lucky and find a fish straight away, many anglers and divers spend years without finding one, often until shown a hole or technique. This list applies to fish found on headlands. Finding fish in deep water or on beaches is a different affair.

 

1. Don’t overlook the very shallow spots.

The experience of encountering a monster mulloway in shallow water is somewhat unforgettable. It is hard to describe the scale of a school of 30kg fish holed up in 1mtr of water. During the day jewfish can often be found in shallow holes seeming to rest up and generally drift passively on the bottom in washy rubble areas.

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2. Broken Wash Behind Bommies

Areas that are broken and provide wash, without the direct pound of the surf, give mulloway a place to rest without getting too battered into the rocks.

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3. Go Where None Have Been Before.

Inhabiting such shallow water in close proximity to rocks, makes Mulloway vulnerable to heavy fishing pressure. Going beyond the regular spots and seeking out untouched stretches of coastline with prominent rocky headlands is a great way to adventure and find new spots.

Jewfish-and-Giant-Trevally

4. When the sun goes down.

Having dived with a school of jew in the same hole on numerous occasions during the day, My curiosity was peaked to find out what they get up to at night. I ventured into the regular haunts with a torch on two separate occasions and was surprised not to find any fish, in a spot that held fish over 80% of the time. On my way back in I came across a couple of smaller jew ferreting around the shallows looking intently active.

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5. Don’t get obsessed

Remember to target other fish as well! It makes finding jew all the more rewarding, and many frustrating hours can be avoided if you spread your attention to many fish!

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Kayak Spearfishing Disaster

I had a disastrous day out on the water in the kayaks when taking a couple of mates spearfishing out to a local reef.

With crystal clear water we all got a little too excited and let our enthusiasm get in the way of our preparation! Having a relatively new kayak and being the first trip out for the other guys, I will admit that I was way to relaxed about securing gear onto the kayak before making the trip through the 2-3 feet of swell and as Murphy’s law dictated, the something that could go wrong, a flip of the kayak, did go wrong.

The result was a lost Iphone, snorkel and mask, and just about all the other gear onboard spent about half an hour in the ocean before we could recover it. Luckily the weight belts sunk straight down and we methodically retraced the path from kayak roll to find them sitting on the sand.

As with all good troopers, once we fell of the horse we got straight back on! I spent 2 hours diving without a snorkel which was laborious to say the least, and nearly speared a nice snapper which did a matrix manoeuvre around my spear. Dan managed a nice little Jew in the wash and Luke speared a great Tarwhine.

The day was somewhat saved by the few fish we brought in, but having my iPhone (which was in a dryphone case) lost to the sea with a bunch of my marks on it, was very disappointing.

Seeing as the kayak has no in hull storage, I have since changed my setup so that everything in secured in a drybag that is secured to the hull. In the event of a roll over, even at a worst case senario that the drybag snapped off the hull, it would still float with all my gear safe and dry within!

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