Coffs Harbour Report: April 2010 by Mark Kallman

Weather

It has been more settled this month, not as many howling windy days with rough seas but we also have not had that warm, clean water that one might have expected by this stage. The water often looks blue and inviting but as one heads into deeper water there is lots of particulate muck in the sea or the sea is milky. On one occasion divers encountered at least 4 layers in about 20m with different viz and temperature in each layer, it really is quite odd. The EAC is withdrawing up the coast but we still have some of the good warm water in our area and spearing should remain pretty reasonable for another month or so.

Fish

Mackerel are still the talk of the town with many divers seeing and landing fish, some in very shallow water. On one occasion an acquaintance of mine took a leisurely swim off the beach in front of his house and found 2 good Spanish just off the point. On his return he found a really big mackerel just before entering the backline. 3 good fish in about 2 hours of diving is not bad at all. In the same area another diver also got a couple of mackerel and on his return took a good cobia off the back of a black ray. Many of the recent fish stories involve taking fish off headlands and shallow inshore reefs. There are lots of tailor (shad) hanging around the productive gutters and plenty of jewfish in the white water inside of the gutters. In some cases 80-100 fish are encountered in a single gutter. Several demersal species have been taken in numbers including mangrove jacks and pearl perch. I would have expected more wahoo around but very few have been seen, not for lack of trying but purely as a result of less than ideal conditions. Although at the end of the month when things settled and we got some lovely clean water, a few wahoo were found and speared at the pinnacles north of the Big Island.

Coffs Harbour Bluewater Freedivers

The huge success of the Classic will allow the club to make some substantial donations to AUF and the local volunteer sea rescue. We have also been trying to make our monthly meetings more interesting to attract members to attend. The talk on GPS and sonar was great and this was followed by a cooking demonstration by yours truly. Not so much as cooking but how to prepare sushi and ceviche. Justin also demonstrated the preparation of fish in prosciutto with pesto which went down a treat. The less than ideal conditions have also accounted for a lack lustre result in the monthly club comp. I sincerely hope that we see some better conditions in the next season.

Marine Park Revue

Our club has been instrumental in participating in the local marine park revue. We have been avidly proposing a more sensible approach to spearfishing. Part of our argument has been that we need access to shallow water, less than 20m deep and that we do not harm the coral substrate. Spearfishing is the most selective fishing method allowing a diver to select a specific target species without affecting any other species. We are eagerly waiting to see what changes to the marine park borders have been made.