Coffs Harbour Report: October 2009 by Mark Kallman

Time to learn to knit?

While I have been swamped with work, opportunities to spearfish remain few and far between. The past few weeks have been dismal on the spearfishing front. Several of the monthly club competitions have been cancelled because of poor conditions this year. October's comp went ahead but I think many divers took a look at the sea and decided not to bother. Apparently the viz was mediocre and fish were few and far between. Fish taken included blue-bar parrotfish and gold-spot wrasse. Mangrove jack, snapper and pearl perch did not feature at all. There were some kingfish (Cape Yellowtail) around but they usually are. Some very large fish were encountered, for us that is in the 30kg margin, nothing like the monsters in New Zealand. At a recent club meeting, we were reflecting on the number of really good days we have seen this season and unanimously agreed that we have only seen one great day so far with a handful of mediocre days in between. The fishermen seem to be enjoying a sterling time at the moment with some good catches of pearlies, jew and snapper coming in over the grapevine. Most recently a large catch of Venus Tuskfish was made at The Patch but, with the pinnacles coming to 28m in the shallowest areas, definitely an area for experienced spearos only.

Recent club events

The club has arranged several initiatives to keep spearos motivated. Mike Wells will be conducting a safety evening. Mike shot to fame recently when he swam through a submerged ocean cave in a place called Fish Rock. Best regarded as a dynamic apnoea challenge, he dived to approx 20m to enter the cave, then swam the 125m inside of the cave exiting and having to swim to the surface at the other end. I cannot begin to imagine what a swim through a cave of that length, on a single breath, must feel like. Then we have Erez Beatus coming to Coffs Harbour to present a freediving course. This course is an officially sanctioned event and promises to be very exciting. Finally John Featherstone has arranged with one of the local municipal pools to allow spearos to test their guns. A target shooting evening is scheduled for the end of November. I realize we often talk about practicing with our guns but rarely make the effort or get the opportunity. Although the local underwater hockey is not part of our club's responsibility, many club members are avid players and hockey is steadily improving with 2 full teams being available on most training evenings.

Summer

There is some light at the end of this long season without spearfishing opportunity. The FADs are back and dolphinfish have been seen around them. Some marlin have been raised by spearos but none have afforded them a shot. Most recently a visitor from Sydney landed the first cobia of the season under very trying conditions. This bodes well for the summer season, unfortunately as I sit writing this, the heavens have just opened up again and we are being treated to the 5th deluge of the year. The cray season is all but over with little to show for some spectacular effort. Excuse me if I am starting to sound like a whinging child but I probably dived more when I lived in Johannesburg 600km from the sea.

2010 Classic

The club will start with its preparation for the 2010 Australian Bluewater Freediving Classic scheduled for March/April next year. This event promises to be a great competition with some of the top freedivers in Australia taking the time and making the effort to come and compete. The competition is directed at pelagic and highly migratory species only, with each diver being permitted to land only one of each species per day. Conditions are often difficult and more than half the field will spend 12 hours in the water, often clocking up more than 160 dives each, over the 2 days of competition, and have nothing to show for their effort. If any spearos are heading to Australia in the new year, pencil the Classic in to your itinery, I am sure you will not be disappointed.