Coffs Harbour Report: September 2009 by Mark Kallman

September has been an extremely poor month reflecting on the success or lack of it, from a spearfishing point of view. Conditions continue to promise the start of reasonable diving conditions and the ocean refuses to deliver. The massive fronts seem to have slacked off but some southerlies are still required to push in that great blue water which is sitting just off the shelf.

There have been a few perla days. One in particular will go down in my memory. Michael, Luke and I went for a quick dive before a scheduled front was due in. I was kitting up and suddenly became aware that most of my gear was missing. For some stupid reason I had neglected to pack everything. While I sat in the boat cursing my stupidity I heard Luke hit the surface screaming, he had taken an 18kg Jewfish (kob for the rest of us). The conditions were marginal, at best, but we persevered and Michael had a quick dive at the Wash. This is an area pretty similar to the pinnacle at Aliwal only the reef structure is much smaller, with lots of surrounding debris. While diving his fish sense kicked in as he noticed the bait behaviour had changed. At this stage the foreheads of several large predators loomed in the cloudy murk. He selected the largest and as it turned he was surprised that it was not an Ignobilis but a Samsonfish. The spear hit the fish in the head almost bumping it over immediately. I say almost because with its dying kick it twisted his spear into a useless corkscrew. His fish weighed 15kg, so his day was made. There have been several forays by other spearos but apart from one or two parrots, the pickings have been very slim indeed. It is not a question of there being no fish around; the fishermen are cleaning up on the inshore reefs with Snapper, Pearl Perch, Jewfish and Trag (Geelbek).

The month ended tragically with the drowning of a spearo in Queensland. Our sport is not one to be taken lightly and every tragedy must serve as a reminder to the rest of us to dive safely and within our capabilities, remembering always that this is never a guarantee of safety! Dive in buddy pairs, look after one another and actively plan for an emergency. Our club will be hosting several training sessions in the next few months to raise awareness amongst our members and improve our game-plan.