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SDM TOTALLY DEDICATED TO SPEARFISHING

ISSUE 10

$8.80 AUS

MAGAZINE

SPEARFISHING

DOWNUNDER


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o d ww. g n i spearfish

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This

Issue

12

29

50

19

30

56

Record Blue

Costal Water Dive 2006 Comp

24

My BIG Dream

Mini Me

Month in Paradise

‘06 QLD Titles

70

Timber Guns

Great White Hunter

Ta k in g Fi sh P h ot os

38

Taste of Tassie

60

HOW TO - fish photos

46

Wahoo Hoodoo

John Featherstone- 29.4kg Wahoo Photo by Brett Vercoe www.liquidfocus.com.au


Regular

Features

06 ~ Editorial 07 ~ Letters to the Editor 16 ~ AUF Report 22 ~ Product Review - Captain Nemo Fins 34 ~ Spearos Gallery 44 ~ Target Species 50 ~ Speared Pelagics 63 ~ Spearo Profile 66 ~ Project Boat

Cover Shot: Ray Powell 13.5kg Mangrove Jack

Centre Shot: Heath Folpp +30kg Mulloway


Brazilian diver Carlos Alberto Sicupira singlehandedly spears and subdues a 664 lbs blue marlin, the fourth largest fish on record ever captured by an underwater hunter. By Luiz Antonio Pereira, Photos By Guy Marcovaldi January 7th; nine o’clock on a stuffy morning, 70 nautical miles off Cape Frio, Southeastern Brazil, when a bill is seen brandishing across the blue water near the boat transom, time has come to make spearfishing history. Albeit unknowingly, in 90 minutes Brazilian diver Carlos Alberto Sicupira, 57, will have single-handedly speared and subdued a 664 pounds kg blue marlin, one of the largest fish ever speared: a brute nearly 13 ft. long. Capturing any record fish is, without a doubt, a strike of luck. According to data from the two world record certification bodies—the International Bluewater Spearfishing Records Committee (IBSRC) and the International Underwater Spearfishing Association (IUSA)—the majority of records seem to have been encountered by chance. Sicupira, on the other hand, is one of a handful of bona-fide world record spearfishers. Some divers take up competition and others spear fish as a weekend hobby, not him. “My number one spearfishing priority is to try to capture world record fish everywhere they may be found”, says Sicupira, who presently holds seven IUSA world records (not counting the marlin). So luck is indeed the least of factors in his case. Before having a dream fish in front of his speargun, there are months, sometimes years, of research, gear preparation and technique trial-and-errors. The fight in the water for this pending world record may have taken an hour and a-half, but its capture started, so to say, seven months earlier. “I’ve been thinking of hunting billfish for quite sometime; following billfish tournaments, exchanging ideas with angler friends. However, I was convinced that it was almost impossible to effectively hunt marlins and sails in deep waters, where there’re no shallow underwater structures to help them congregate, like off Brazil. But an experience we had last year changed my mind”, explains Sicupira. A dive buddy told him that, while looking for tuna near dolphin pods, he

SDM 12


spotted several billfish. He even dove a couple of times after a marlin and a sailfish without success. Few months later, it was Sicupira’s and some buddies turn to check this potential. “I lost a huge marlin and a friend caught a big sail and we saw many others. Then I was 100% sure we could do it, if, and a big if, we could hone the technique and get proper guns and terminal gear”, he remembers. The record game was afoot. Last September, Sicupira called Riffe International, in San Clemente, California. “Jay, I need a gun to catch a world record marlin, period! Just send me, please.” Next, it was time to rig his boat to properly attract billfish, under the advice of some old angler friends and his savvy captain, a third generation fisherman himself. The following step was to rehearse the “deck dance” of divers and crew, which must be as perfectly timed as New York’s Radio City Rockettes high kicking. This choreography starts the instant the fish is spotted and includes not letting the prey lose interest while a diver gets in the water without tangling the float-lines or disengaging the slip-tip, and to find oneself in a perfect position to take the shot. How is all this done? “That’s our secret. We developed our own technique. I can tell one thing: we have never had a boring day so far”, Sicupira grins. And he’s right; the record blue marlin was caught in the third of only five trips of the 2005-2006 local billfish season. Closing the season, Sicupira “released” a blue close to 400 pounds. The Sicupira’s billfish company was 100% honed and ready to come to the stage when the “Marlin!” cry came out of the tuna tower. In less than 5 seconds, Sicupira slid in the water and dove, not knowing exactly what he would find when foam created by the boat’s wake cleared. But there it was. With the heart pounding like a samba school drum, he sees the monster marlin slowly moving in to check him out. “The fish calmly passed in front of me at close range, showing his left flank. Mesmerized by its huge head, I didn’t notice that the slip-tip had been dislodged when I got in the water. I realized that my one-in-a-lifetime opportunity was swimming away; in a fraction of a second I raised the gun, put the tip back in place and hip-shot at the dark thing still sliding to my left”, recalls Sicupira. Due to its big length, there were still fish in front of Sicupira when he blindly squeezed the trigger. Any doubt if he had hit anything was dissipated when the brute took off like a missile. “At first, the marlin ran wildly near the surface, while a buddy that got in the water to photograph and I watched it zigzagging to left and to the right, like a banana boat. After a while, the marlin sounded in front of us, stretching down the 100 ft. bungee, three torpedo floats, plus another 100 ft. of regular trail line, tethered to another float. “I bounce dove into the blue to see nothing but the bungee upright and stiff like a steel rod”, says Sicupira. The brief calm time gave Sicupira the opportunity to pass his arm around the handle of the last float, which barely

13

SDM


BIG dream

my

just not big enough By Luke Buchholz

MISSION: Pursuit and capture of giant Yellowtail kingfish EXPECTATIONS: Good friend and diving partner Ray Powell last year saw 50kg plus kingfish at White Island, but after driving down the main street of Auckland I just wanted to get home alive!! Arriving at the Auckland airport at 11pm in a pair of shorts and a singlet with a wind chill factor of about 10 c, all I could think about were “big schools of dumb kingfish and clean water”, wasn’t I wrong. At the airport Ray and myself were met by another two kingfish assassins, Steve(the Bear) Brear and Emenuell Bova. The first words that came out of Bear’s mouth were (we have a parking ticket already!) and (this place is pretty dodgie). To make things worse whilst driving down the main street of Auckland, bumper to bumper, having two transvestites looking at me from the car next to us, Ray informs me that for Bear to call this place dodgie it must be pretty damn bad. It was like a war zone, Gangs every 20 or 30 m, police doing raids on pubs, people being hand cuffed by the police to hand rails on the side of street! A kind local told me that “he was going to set me on fire” when I was walking down the street. I guess this was just another Saturday night in down town Auckland. Staying in a backpackers hostel about 50m down the road from a pub that had just been raided, I don’t think any of us got much sleep. We got up at the crack of dawn to catch the 5:30 ferry over to Whihekki Island. WAYNE’S WORLD Whiekhee Island At the dock we were met by Jo’s friend Wayne. Shortly after meeting Wayne for the first time and introducing ourselves, piling in to his car we had a short drive to his place. A small farm about 5 mins from the water. Keen as mustard to hop in the water to chase these “big dumb kingfish in clean water”, we unpacked our bags and got our gear together. Wayne had a boat and deckhand ready in the water, to go! The viso was very poor about 5m,even less in some places with the water temp around 12 degrees celsius but that wasn’t going to stop us. If you were going diving in water around 10 to 12 degrees Celsius, what type of wetsuit would you take??? 5 mm? 7mm? even 9mm? What does bear take? A 3 mm picasso suit (hooded jacket and waist pants!). For the first day of diving around Whiekhee Island Bear didn’t say too much. Matter of fact we all didn’t say too much. It was just too cold.

SDM 24


“It was then that I realised how big this thing was!�


Cloughy Challenge ANDREW CLOUGH

MEMORIAL 2nd - 3rd SEPT. 2006

MACKAY MOST

MERITORIOUS FISH

Andrew Clough was a special person. He

Mens 1st & 2nd

touched the minds and hearts of many people,

Womans 1st

Spearo’s and others, with his warmth

personality and outgoing nature. His love of the

Junior 1st & 2nd

sea and the creatures in it, along with his

Most Meritorious Diver

ability as a free diver and spearfisherman

M.M Pelagic other

inspired many of us. He was an accomplished

Mackerel

competition diver and won many Nemrod

Barramundi

rounds, however the state title just eluded him

Tropical Snapper

on 3 occasions. He won many titles at club level

and as his skills improved found little challenge

Parrot Fish

in competing seriously at club level. This did not

Cobia

mean he stopped competing in club dives, but

Trout

that his focus shifted from seeking out a

Tusk Fish

number of common fish that were not very

Cray Fish

challenging to seeking out that special fish.

(One that was especially large for its size, or

Mystery Weight

rarely seen or caught.)

Unusual Capture

Judges Choice Award

Therefore, when we looked at organising a

Memorial Competition to honour his life and

love of our sport the idea of doing an ordinary competition did not seem to suit but rather a competition based along the lines he himself sought, something worth the challenge.

The Andrew Clough Most Meritorious Fish

Spearfishing Challenge is a way for us to take

up the challenge that Cloughy set. To seek out

those fish of high merit and compare them with your mates in a friendly, yet no doubt, hard fought competition.

CONTACT:

Shane Morrison 0413 316 583

muddiver@orion-online.com.au Bob Eaves 0409 626 434 eves@mackay.net.au Shayne Martin

0418752669

fishkiller11@bigpond.com.au For more information and all the details go to www.spearfishingdownunder.com.au


mini M

E

m i n i By Louis van Senden

Mini Me is a 60 cm’s carbon fibre gun with a 63cm 6mm aluminium spear. The gun was crafted primarily as a kill gun but saw some serious action in the North West of Australia in August of this year. It was two week’s into the trip before Mini Me got to see the light of day. The idea was to spear some burley in an attempt to entice out a large resident potato cod and get some photos with the underwater camera. Abe had brought out my 1.3 Rabitech Apex in case any big fish were around. After a few minutes of poking around the reef with little success we headed out to see if there was any burley to be had further out. I was sitting and appreciating the scenery in about 4mtrs of water when a school of tightly bunched baitfish came hurtling towards me with 6 massive Samson fish in tow. Even with double wraps of mono Mini Me has a maximum of 2m range. I dived just as one of the fish turned to check me out. The fish was only about 1.5mtrs away so I seized the moment and blasted away. I had the gun lined up right in the middle of the fish because I knew that Mini Me can shoot somewhat unpredictably. This case was no different and the spear bowed down and lodged in the fishes guts. The battle was on. The fish took off towing me through the water luckily straight towards Abe. “Shoot It” Abe quickly placed a rushed shot in the top of the fish’s head and proceeded to wrap it

up. Just when I thought the battle was over I saw Abe’s spear dropping to the bottom and before I knew it I was off behind the fish swimming hard in an attempt to take some of the pressure off my spear. After a few minutes I looked up to see Abe still reloading his gun about 100mtrs away. My spear was hanging parallel to the fish with the flopper somehow hanging in its guts. Finally Abe caught up and put a good holder in the fish. We hauled it up onto the rocks and had a good hard laugh. The fish was twice the size of the gun and weighed in at 19 kg’s. The very next day we arranged with a mate to go round the corner in his tiny dingy with a 9.9 motor. I decided to take Mini Me for a bit of a challenge and see if I could repeat my efforts of the previous day. In the water we were greeted by large numbers of large turtles who seemed overly friendly. We headed off in our different directions and I ended up hunting the shallow’s after GT’s or what ever else turned up. I was surprised when I saw 3 large eagle ray’s heading towards a small crack in the ledge. I followed them and was shocked when I saw another 10-15 crammed into a tiny space. Just as I was taking this in I looked down to see a school of about 10 jewfish. The fish hadn’t seen me so I snuck up behind and got to within 10cm’s of the closest fish before pulling the trigger. The large rays lost their cool and barbs were seemingly everywhere. I swam away hastily and claimed my prize. The fish was just shy of 12kg’s but needless to say I was chuffed with my first Jew. I’d like to thank all the great people of WA who showed us a great time.

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SDM


Spearfishing

Queensland State Titles By Bob Eves

Young Mike Saunders with an impressive first Days catch.

What a Weekend!! Up Saturday morning at 1:30am. Carry out a contestant head count at around 2am. Then clear the Harbour Heads by 2:30am. This was the beginnings of our combined clubs activities, known as the 2006 Queensland Spearfishing Titles. This would be my 4th state titles that I have dived, but the first I have played an organising roll in. It gave me great satisfaction knowing that I had taken part in bringing together a group of spearo’s from all over Queensland to spend a weekend fishing and socialising in my backyard. Day one saw 23 divers, 2 safety boat drivers and 3 crew on board Norkat II heading for Kindermah Reef. Most on board were too excited, so sleep was out of the question while the more experienced club divers sat casually around exchanging stories and catching up with old mates from other clubs. Less experienced men sat quietly in anticipation of what was to come. Les and Jill started moving about the galley getting breakfast ready, this was the only signal necessary, we were approaching the reef. Breakfast was demolished as 23 divers sorted through gear getting ready for the days competition. As the anchor was lowered it quickly became obvious, it would be impossible to swim against the flood tide in this area, a group decision was made to move along the reef to avoid the run. By 9am we once again anchored this time less current but the water had lost some of it’s clarity. Strong swimmers headed back towards the current and the rewards it had to offer, while other divers headed upstream. It wasn’t long before everybody had plenty of space. Back on the boat 5 hours later the weigh-in got under way. I was impressed with the quality fish that came back to the boat. Adam Smith from the Townsville club top scored the day with 1414 points, closely followed by Ray Powell and Mike Saunders (Jr) Ken Hunter (AKA Crowie) took fish of the day with a 9.8 kg Black Spot Tusk fish - good on ya mate! The larger fish were filleted on our return journey with the rest being processed in the harbour. After a quick cleanup, the out of town divers returned to the air-conditioned comfort of Norkat II while the rest of us straggled off home, only to repeat the process on Sunday.


Penrith Island which lies 35 miles east of Mackay was the venue for day 2. This was to allow an early finish so our tourists might be able to get on the road before dark. Norkat II dropped anchor on the lee of Penrith which gave divers an opportunity to swim the fringing reef then out to the scattered bommies in about 18 or 20 meters of water. Start time coincided with low tide, most people took advantage of the slack water and it wasn’t long before everybody had spread out along the reef edge. Conditions were reasonable with small tide and relatively clean water, however catch rates were not expected to be as good as the Saturday’s comp. This proved true with approximately half the overall weight as the previous day. The weigh-in procedure got under way soon after the last person boarded the boat. It quickly became obvious that we were heading for a close competition, both Ray Powell and Shane Morrison had 9 species, however Ray’s catch had more weight while Simon Baldwin managed 8 species. Scores were calculated on the return journey and presentation took place not long after the engines were shut off. Ray Powell took out the overall honors, with Adam Smith and Tony Heugh closely behind. 2006 QLD Champion - Ray Powell

NorKat II - Just perfect!

I never received a negative comment from any divers regarding the weekends events which confirmed my belief that this dive comp was very successfully. I would like to thank contestants, safety boat drivers, sponsors, skipper and crew of Norkat II all of whom made this a truly memorable event. Full results over page. The organisers of the 2006 Queensland Spearfishing Titles extend thanks to the following sponsors: Fishing World Mackay, DiveR Fins, Reel Deep Charters, Edge spear guns by Super Frog, Spearfishing Downunder Magazine, Adrenalin Spearfishing Supplies, Cairns skin-diving Club and Townsville Skin-diving

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SDM


a Taste

of Tassie

By Murray Thomas The first thing you’ll notice about Tassie’s marine life if you go there is that everything’s so flamin’ big. Big abs, big crays, big mussels, big oysters, big sharks and big surf to go with it. Five metre swells are pretty much average on the west coast and occasionally it gets up to over ten metres. That’s big! The only small things in Tassie seem to be the Tassie Devils but their attitude makes up for their size. They really do eat anything too! Even rubber is on the menu as I discovered one morning when I found one of my dive boots with the arse eaten out of it not far from camp. I met up with Tobi and Dave at Devonport after a 10 hour ferry from Melbourne on one of the spirit of Tassie ships. The trip over is around $90 per person but only between $10 and $35 extra to take your vehicle, depending on the time of year. Mad if you don’t bring your wheels I reckon! You’ll probably spend a bit at the bar so you might want to budget for that too. We headed straight for the remote West Coast and found a top camp spot at Sundowner Pt after a short windy stay at Marrawah further north. Three weeks of howling westerlys followed and we were lucky to get any dives in. Thanks to a few sheltered lagoons we managed to sneak in and check out the underwater scenery quite a few times. The water was damn cold and the fish life wasn’t that great but we always picked up a feed so we didn’t mind. There were stacks of abs over the 13.6cm size limit so they were on the menu most nights along with calamari, flounder, trumpeter and wrasse or kelpies as the locals call them. It was good to get back to basics just poking around the kelp with handspears looking for a feed. I was pretty stoked to whack my first Bastard Trumpeter with the sling while I was there. It’s always good to add another species to the list. They’re top eating too, much like the clean fleshed flounder. We found the

SDM 38


wrasse a bit too soft and fairly bland but this was soon rectified by Dave’s intoxicating garlic marinade. We certainly ate well while we were there that’s for sure. The locals were really helpful too which was pretty standard in the smaller towns and remote areas of Tassie. Much of the South West coast is inaccessible unless you want to hike for days or even weeks so we gave that a miss due to lack of equipment and motivation. It wasn’t until we drove down to Huonville which is just south of Hobart, that the weather cleared up. Apparently it’s nearly always crap on the west coast. We only spent a week in Huonville picking cherries as the rain had taken its toll on most of the orchards but it helped pay the bills anyway. I think we ate more cherries than we put in the lugs! Tassie fruit is the best I’ve ever had and the cherries were no exception being twice the size as usual and by far the tastiest. Speaking of big and tasty, we caught the ferry over to Brunny Island for a day and pigged out on oysters and mussels at Barns Bay while we were there. The mussels were great but you can keep your oysters Dave! Snotty, salty bloody things they are! You don’t really need to go to Brunny for oysters or mussels as they’re pretty much everywhere along the Tassie coast. Next stop was Cockle Creek which is as far south as you can drive. It’s a top camp spot where a tidal creek feeds into a protected bay surrounded by rocky points and clean sandy beaches. There’s plenty of flathead to catch on the beaches and the creek is chock-a-block full of cockles, mussels and oysters. Cockles are similar to pippies and are great barbequed after being left in a bucket of sea water overnight to spit the sand out. When they’re done they pop open just like pippies and mussels do. On our first night there we had six different types of seafood and the only thing that missing was crayfish. We still hadn’t picked up any crays yet, even in the pot. It wasn’t until the following week when the lads took off home that I was able to find any crayfish. I camped down at Cockle again and decided to check out a new rocky section out. It took about three hours to find the spot but when I did there were crays galore. I managed to pull out five crays in just two metres of water within half an hour, one of which was probably the biggest cray that I’ve caught so far. As I pulled the big brute out of his hole he managed to hook his front leg over my finger and latched on, driving the one inch spur into the bone of my index finger. Man did that hurt but there was no way that I was letting go. I hit the surface all tangled in kelp as usual and struggled to hold the cray as it flicked and carried on. The front leg broke off but was still firmly clamped on my finger like a mud crab claw. Five minutes later and I had him in the catch bag and managed to remove the rat trap from my finger. It ached for about two weeks but it was well worth it.


Target Species

Dhufish

By Paul McKeown Dhufish or Westralian jewfish [Glaucosoma hebraicum] is the largest member of the Pearl Perch [ Glaucosomatidae] family which includes Threadfin Pearl Perch, Pearl Perch and deep sea Pearl Perch. Dhufish are only found in Western Australia, from Esperance [Recherche Archipelago] in our southwest to Shark Bay in the north. Color ranges from silver with prominent black stripes in juveniles to silver and indistinct black markings in larger adults. They all have a distinct black stripe over their eye and bright white to yellow tips on fins and tail when excited. Small amounts of purple in the head along with their silver/black stripes give them a very regal bearing. Dhuies are the no 1 target for most reef spearfishermen and are caught most commonly in 10-20 meters of water; they are among the elite of Australian table


fish. They are a magnificent fish to see live in their environment and can grow in excess of 25.8kg and 1219mm [Hutchins and Thompson 1995]. A fish this large is 40+ years old. Unofficial state record 24.8kg shot with an air gun near Rottnest Island. Official state record is 24.04kg shot by R. Muir in 1973 Rottnest Island. Most fish taken by spearos are in the 412kg range. Any fish over 10kg is a very good fish and any over 16kg exceptional. 20kg + and you’re a legend. Dhufish reach maturity at 300mm and 3200mm respectively at around 3 years of age. By the time they are legal size at 500mm and 6-7 years of age they have spawned 3-4 times.[November-April]. Dhuie fever is a common ailment in WA. The best area to hunt large fish is Rottnest Island, Augusta, and Hamlin Bay on the south coast. The Houtman Abroholos and Beagle Islands to the north of Perth are also a hunting ground for large fish. Dhuies are a very inquisitive fish and will often be seen from the surface. They readily approach divers but usually stop short just outside shooting range, a slow kick should get you in range but be quick. They will let you dive in on them and the more casual you can be the better, most fish can be speared in this fashion. However larger fish can be very flighty. If a good fish is not cooperating try and follow him to his home as they will have one or several close by. Dhuies calm down and tend to settle once they feel safe. Don’t rush a shot, Dhufish tend to bolt off but will return, sometimes it can take 20min but be patient. If you’re in the right ground sometimes all you have to do is shoot something and they appear from nowhere all lit up. Once shot they fight hard and head for home. This can be good if they hole up, and they usually do. Don’t however, let them escape into a deep tight spot because they may lever the spear out and disappear. Use pressure on your float rope or spear cord to lift their head just before they brick you if you don’t like where they’re going. Dhuies love limestone and sand, anything with ledges and holes around 1-2meters in the 1020metre range around exposed reef. Usually the further outside the metro area the better. Start about 3km offshore in 10-12meter then if no fish are found head out and check 15-20 if you can. Swim as much ground as possible and keep moving until you find them. Happy Hunting - Paul.

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SDM


the By John Featherstone From Thesaurus.com Hoodoo: jinx, curse, born of witchcraft I have resisted writing this story for a while, a long while actually, but inevitably the time has come to talk of the Wahoo Hoodoo. Invariably those of us fortunate enough to chase the odd Wahoo have suffered from the Hoodoo. An apparent curse that continues to haunt many divers chasing this speedster of the blue. This powerful, soft bodied fish can be one of the most difficult to land even for the most experienced. Don’t get me wrong, Wahoo can be particularly stupid at times but shooting them and landing them are two completely different things. As an up and coming spearo I lost my fair share of ‘Hoo but after some trial and error I have got some basic hints for landing this crazy speedster and I am happy to say that these days I lose very few. As in most situations in life, “bad luck” can generally be attributed to basic stupidity. So in reality the curse is little more than BAD spearfishing. We have had a good year in these parts for Wahoo with good numbers of fish being seen, BUT unfortunately also many stories of the one that got away. Now NOTHING quite gets to me like divers losing fish unnecessarily and generally there is only a couple of reasons why your prized catch disappears into the blue. These include: 1. You made an awful shot – BAD 2. You had gear failure – BAD 3. You put too much pressure on it - BAD 4. You used the wrong type of gear - BAD 5. A shark ate it – BAD luck Well 1 through to 4 are completely avoidable (and 5 sometimes if you have a brave dive buddy), so I’m going to yield a little know-


how on avoiding some of the pitfalls of chasing Wahoo. Of course much of this is applicable to all fish but it it’s “gonna” break, a Wahoo will break it. You made an AWFUL shot - BAD After many hours watching Immersion 1 and 2, tweaking my gear and just good old fashion practising on a target, I have gone from absolute GUMBY to reasonable. Honestly, there was nobody who is/was a worse shot than me and my memory banks are resplendent with examples of Snapper, Cobia, Mackerel, Wahoo, Samsonfish, etc, etc, swimming off completely unscathed. Actually I went through a phase when I just about gave spearfishing away due to shear frustration. Turns out somewhere along the line I had bent the barrel of my gun and without some serious attempt to get to the bottom of it I would have continued to miss. So what am I trying to say? If your shooting is off, don’t hesitate to get in the pool (or some calm waters) and take a couple of practise shots at a target, you’ll be AMAZED how much you’ll discover by having a few shots at a target. Also get someone else to have a shot with your gun. If they miss in the same spot then it “ain’t” you! Get tweaking! If something isn’t working for you, change it. Carefully examine your gear, nay, study it, think carefully about enhancements then, look at other people’s setups and pinch their ideas. Not sure where I saw this but I now use a railgun with an open muzzle. I just found it easier to sight with, not for everyone but this is my personal preference.

I had an 8mm Shaft on this gun with an Ice Pick slip-tip on it. Looked “real sexy” but I couldn’t hit a thing with it. Got in the pool and discovered it shoots 20cm low. Beefed up the rubbers (from twin 16mm to twin 18mm) and it still shoots 10cm low. Took the tip off (just the 8mm threaded spear) and knocked the eye out of the target! Slip tips are heavy and you need some decent power to drive them. I have one on my 3 rubber timber gun, but never use it where I live. I now use your garden variety 7mm tri-cut (not stainless, never stainless, too soft in 7mm) with single flopper. Deadly accurate and I lose very few fish because the shot is usually good. Bit more on shooting, consider this: You spend 3 weeks waiting for good weather, you finally get a day off, conditions are perfect, your dream fish swims by and……you miss. REALITY – you haven’t taken a shot for 3 weeks and you expect to hit something on your first shot – “DREAMIN”. Stop on the way out and AGAIN have a couple of shots, it will do wonders for your confidence and your accuracy.


A month month in in HEAVEN A Abe in a nice Barrel In early August of 2005, Jack and I departed on a 10 day spearing trip to north Western Australia. We went up with a long list of fish we’d like to spear, headed by Spanish mackerel. This fish had been a target for me ever since I was a child and my dad managed to spear one in the same location. We got off the plane in Perth to be greeted by some rather ordinary weather. The thought that we could be in for 10 days of rain was quickly silenced by a weather report of 30 degrees and fine conditions. After 10 hours on the road we pulled up our tent and hopped into bed with great expectations for the morning. At first light we were greeted with a 2 metre swell but off shore winds and blue water….. Mmm. We quickly suited up and were in the water before 8 o’clock. On the way out I noticed the excess of fish compared to back home. I was following a large bald chin grouper when I noticed a big spangled emperor with a spear hanging out of it. “You bastard” I yelled. We kept swimming out and found a nice sand patch with a lot of bait hanging round. I was diving down when I noticed a small Spanish mackerel swimming parallel to me. I quickly lined up and stoned him. I had taken my first mackerel, even if he was only 90cm. We headed in and had a feed of fish for breaky. After seeing that we were keen divers a young American lad named Abe came and introduced himself. He had been diving the reef with a local friend and was “super keen”. He became our shark man as he’d become used to dealing with the numerous bronze whalers that were ever present while burleying. It wasn’t till after 8 days that we finally got our first good fish. Jack boated a Spanish that was estimated at around 8 kg’s not a monster but good for a first fish.

SDM 54

Our 10 days expired very suddenly so we made the decision to stay a while longer. On the 11th day I finally shot a big Spanish of around 15 kg’s. I was sitting at around 8mtrs when I saw Mr Spaniola cruising past. I payed him little attention and pulled my gun down, humming the rubber’s. This must have set him off as he came steaming right up to me. Bang, my shot hit somewhat low but still a good holder. And the fish was soon boated. The same day I landed my first cobia, surely a sign that we made the right decision to stay. The swell picked up the next day and we got some amazing waves. The reef was unforgiving and


everyone ended up with some reef kisses. Getting on and off the rocks was also a very tricky exercise and if your board had survived the waves it often received a few dings from the rocks. After about a week of waves our fish stocks had run dry so it was with haste that we took to the water. The water was extremely murky due to the big swell and the heavy down pour the day before. I was first in the water to check if it was worth diving. I requested my gun as I felt a little vulnerable. I had the first Mackey in the boat before the others even had their masks on. Only a 9kg fish, but a good sign. The boys were quickly in the water. We found a small ball of bait and started doing drops on it. I was sitting on the bottom when I noticed jack swimming at something behind me. I turned just as he shot a massive Mackey. There was another one only metres from my gun and it looked even bigger. I lined up and shot it, once again just below the back bone. I grabbed my buoy line and let it fly through my hand. The fish took off in a blistering run and I soon had my buoy in my hands. I turned back to see jack celebrating that he had stoned his fish. My fish was far from dead and I was getting towed out into deeper water with no visibility and a silent knowledge that the sharks were present. A second shot from Abe and the fish was mine. An amazing dive by all standards, the two fish weighed in at 19.5 and 20 kilograms. The trip was an amazing time for us and we met some amazing friends and beautiful people in one of the harshest places on earth. Photos by Abe Shelton, Zack French, Vincent and Louis van Senden Words by Louis van Senden

Abe’s First Mackerel

First Day’s Catch


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