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.
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.
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.
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.
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.