Coffs Harbour October 2010 - Mark Kallman

Weather

We had such a nice end to winter and then took a lashing with a few severe fronts coming up the coast. Flooded south and north of Coffs but we were spared the floods this time. Unfortunately once the rivers are in spate, there is little chance of getting any diving in. The EAC is charging along the continental shelf but at this stage no southerlies have managed to push the clean, warm and clear water in yet. I do remain hopeful with the promise of wahoo and samsonfish in the near future.

Fish

Squat! Spearing has been exceptionally poor. When we start talking about visiting spearos shooting yellowtail, things are getting out of hand. It would be very unusual for a local experienced diver to shoot a 'tail because there are much better fish around...usually. We were also hoping to get out and check some of the cray holes before the warm water arrives but I guess that is not meant to be. I just hope we don't end up with another summer season of dirty stagnant water like last year. The gamefishers are getting good dorado, marlin and yellowfin tuna so there definitely is some promise in the EAC. Probably be better to see what happens later this month around South West Rocks. SW Rocks are about an hour south of us but the current hits there first before turning toward the coast and up to us. Here's hoping for a better season than last year.

Shooting more fish

Things you can do to shoot more fish. Increase your range. Swim further, use a sea-kayak or a boat, travel longer distances in your car or travel to exotic and remote areas that enjoy very little pressure. I have done just that. Travelled to Swains Reef and then out to Saumarez about 180Nm off the east coast of Yeppoon in Queensland. You live on a mothership and have smaller boats launched to take you out to your chosen destination. We were out for a week and had filled the hold within 3 days of diving. Now it has never been my aim to become the equivalent of a long-line operator but the shear abundance of fish does keep you going. We got coral trout, coronation trout, a plethora of parrotfish, various emperors, seabreams of different descriptions, monster Kaakap and of course a lot of dog-tooth tuna. The boat we travelled on was spectacular and very comfortable with a good crew and competent chef. I loved the trip and am keen to make this a regular thing. Warm water, you really only need a stinger suit and clear, sometimes 80m viz. There are never guarantees when spearfishing but on some of the reefs, you only dive when you see fish and you get just about a fish on each dive. Sharks? Yes, but not problematic, contrary to what we were told and there are lots of sea-snakes, often as many as a hundred a day. By the fourth day of the trip everyone had almost shot themselves out and then it was a question of looking at deeper reef and more challenging species. The reefs did not disappoint. I remember chatting to Cory about the pleasure of shooting good fish at depth and Saumarez is the ideal place to do just this.

One massive learning curve, take along spares and if you think you have enough take some more. One diver bent 3 spears in 3 shots, another had his rubber chewed off by a taxman (geez that sounds very suss). Wishbones are an expendable commodity and a spare gun is a necessity. I had gear failure on 2 guns in one session. You can NEVER have enough spares.

Classic

Preparations are once again underway for next year's Classic. This time around we are offering some good cash prizes to encourage a wider spread of divers. First prize is $500 and according to the exchange rate that equates to about R3500, which is a tidy little piece of cash!