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Joe Petrovich with a 3kg plus Western red, The legs are one of the best parts!

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This year in WA has been a brilliant year for catching our local rock lobster, or crayfish as everyone calls them. Diving with a few good mates, we really gave the JUMBOS a touch up this season! Both Joe and myself had success in our club cray comps this year; we did the hard yards and scouted some new ground. Below, is a little window or sample if you like, of a typical hunt in our local patch along with a few tricks and tips to help the novice on his cray hunting journey! A jumbo cray is a larger Western cray that can be identified by the big oversized limbs.

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n a temperate piece of ocean, 10 miles off the coast, between sand deserts, canyons and banks of weed, a set of weathered rocks endure. The ever changing nature of the sea has worn a serrated and mean fringe on the seaward edge where the surf continually grinds the rock. Gripping this edge, I duck my head as another wave crashes down, my arms are stretched and finger strength tested. The seal on my mask breaks and I taste the warm clean salty tang of the Indian Ocean. Trying to relax is hard but it’s a must, beneath this edge, a deep cave sits, hollowed out by countless thousands of years of such abuse. A slight readjustment, one last breath and down to the entrance. It’s a long dive, I remind myself to focus, and it’s not a dive to waste time. The beam of my torch brings daylight in the form of a one foot by one foot road of soft white light. Off in the distance where the cave narrows, the flash of reflected light winks from several pairs of eyes, like dust moats caught by the afternoon sun, they seem to float, suspended in the wash of the distant beam. I neither rush nor fumble, a steady methodical approach, eyes on the prize, closer. As the darkness of the cave closes in, the narrow beam of torch light intensifies. The walls narrow, like the underside of a rotting log, hundreds of weirdly coloured and shaped life forms inhabit the cave. Orange and red coral, lime green and yellow sponges, tiny shrimp, crabs and more are revealed. The big

cray is dead centre, he demands your attention! A big red with multiple pairs of oversized legs outstretched like some crazy deity of the Hindu Parthenon. I can’t take my eyes off this guy; he is at least 3kg and 20-30 years old. It’s time to deploy the long stainless loop I am carrying. It’s like taking a long shot on the pool table, game on, eight ball in corner pocket! The trick, is to get the loop behind him quickly, without spooking him. I have the loop in place and slowly open the stainless trap. The cray is ponderous and slow; he comes awake and rises up preparing for evasive action. One swift move and the loop is over his tail and snapped shut. He kicks hard and bucks like a prize bull, silt explodes off the bottom but I am already making good my escape, kicking cray in tow.

A Few Tips On Finding And Catching Crays The one thing you DO need is…. ENDURANCE: Fortitude, hardiness, patience, perseverance, persistence, stamina, staying power, strength, TENACITY. The cray has few defences, the first and perhaps most obvious is his knack for hiding. He is not any easy target to locate, secreted away in deep crevasses and caves during daylight hours he can be most frustrating even to the expert few. A few points to consider, some of them may seem obvious but in combination usually yield results.

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Rules and Regs In WA you can only use a noose and your hands to get crays. In QLD you can use a speargun. In all other states you must only use your hands.

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Author with a great bag of crays. Check out the legs on the jumbo.

11. Use an extra-long loop and good LED torch, learn how to use them together. 12. Be calm and methodical, have a plan for emergencies, always know which way the buckle on your weight belt is facing and practice dropping your left or right hand and releasing it. Don’t clip anything that can hook up to the reef on your belt, including catch bags or gauges; you want to be as streamlined as possible. 13. Blaze new trails, think outside the square, explore the least obvious areas you can think of, chances are most divers have hit the obvious well known spots. If you want the big ones you need to put the hard work in and do lots of swimming . 14. Leave catch bags on a float or on the bottom, painful but worth it. 15. Watch out for cave dwelling bities like wobbys and eels, sea urchins etc. 16. DON’T ever dive alone and watch your buddy every time he dives, crays are tasty but not worth your life.


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Sean Lipke with a 103kg Black Marlin


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arlin are a fish rarely encountered by spearfishers. Those that go out in pursuit of marlin often spend days on end trawling up and down the seemlingly barren continental shelf, always alert and always ready for that brief window of oppourtunity when the fish is drawn in close to the boat. Many of those who put in the time, effort and patience to find these amazing creatures are left wondering what went wrong. 2012 however, has been the year of the marlin for spearo's up and down the East coast. Some have been taken out on the shelf by targeted marlin hunters, while others, like Sean Lipke's black marlin have been a combination of skill, luck, timing and a little more luck! Sean's incredible tale is the first of a series of marlin stories to wet the appetite for adventure.

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Spearfishing Downunder Magazine Issue #38