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Alright then....where do I start?

13631 Views 44 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  RedPhoenix
Free diving off my yak is something that I am very interested in but completely new to. I was hoping that someone more experienced than myself could paint a picture of yak free diving and what would be involved e.g.

-What kit is needed?
-what depths and bottom seascape should be targeted?
-How deep is it realistic to dive to in order to target fish and other bottom type stuff (obviously largely based on fitness levels)?
-What sort of safety precautions/kit should one observe/acquire e.g. I would think that having a pony (small emergency breathing apparatus not a little horse) strapped to your leg could be beneficial?
-I understand that spearfishing is illegal with a tank?
-what sort of entry level spear gun/spear features should one go for?
-Techniques, tips and diving secrets of the rich and famous?
-Species to target etc etc?
-Best way to position the whole thing so that the wife buys all the kit for me for christmas :D ?

I reckon this would serve as a general guide to anyone interested who has very little to no experience.

Any input appreciated :D

JT
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Unfortunately, due to the change in ownership of this web site and the lack of response by the owners to my requests to remove my email address from all administrative-level notifications and functionality, I have decided to remove my posts on AKFF. Thank you for the great times, the fantastic learning experiences and the many many fish. If you are desperate for the old content of this particular post, it is available below base64 encoded and bzip2 compressed.

Red.

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I understand about the eustations, I had a bit of trouble equalising on my last scuba dive due to a blocked nose, but pushed through it (probably shouldn't have). I'll eat my dive booties if there aren't a few crays in that spot :D

redphoenix said:
perhaps I should attach it to the yak with a 5m line.

Red.
That's a good idea. Although I reckon the 5m is probably a fairly conserative figure. Do you need to do any special cleanup to the camera after using it in the salt?

I think the rounder of the 2 jackets you speared is a mosaic leatherjacket - they are so pretty underwater, unfortunately we don't see many of that species in Vic.
Squidder said:
I think the rounder of the 2 jackets you speared is a mosaic leatherjacket - they are so pretty underwater, unfortunately we don't see many of that species in Vic.
Are those Leather Jackets good eating or crappy? Also what are the little strippy fish in the photos?

John
I haven't found a leatherjacket yet that didn't taste good, and I think Ive caught and eaten at least 8 different species so far (horseshoe, reef, toothbrush, six-spined, mosaic, fan-bellied, chinaman, yellow-tailed). They all have that distinctive, 'rubbery' flesh and delicate sweet flavour :D
Unfortunately, due to the change in ownership of this web site and the lack of response by the owners to my requests to remove my email address from all administrative-level notifications and functionality, I have decided to remove my posts on AKFF. Thank you for the great times, the fantastic learning experiences and the many many fish. If you are desperate for the old content of this particular post, it is available below base64 encoded and bzip2 compressed.

Red.

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JT, I have been doing diving for a few years and totally agree with what Red has said.

If you are starting out, forget about a pricey gun - go for a cheap $20 aluminium handspear. The reason I say this is that you will most likely damage the tip of any spear you buy within the first few dives (while you learn) and the polespear is so cheap it can be treated as a disposable learning device. The handspear will also teach you far more about successful spearing due to its limited range. Handspears also come with the multi prong tip as a default which will assist you until your accuracy becomes a bit more consistent. I have a handspear and a gun that I take with me on my yak expeds - you are welcome to have a go of them to see how they compare.

Other equipment such as mask and fins are worth spending some money on from the outset.

Go for a long and stiff set of fins as they will get you moving quickly. Red was right when he said that fully enclosed fins are generally better - but this is only a generalisation - I have a set of fins that require booties and I rate them. You can launch from the rocks without wearing the fins (often much easier when faced with a bit of wave action) but your feet are still protected by the boots (plus the non-slip soles really grip well). The fins I have are also very fast and compare well with the type Red has recommended. Having said that, the enclosed fins can often be cheaper.

With the mask - the most important thing is the fit on your face shape. A good fitting mask should hold on under water without the strap - just through suction alone. Another worthwhile attribute to look for is a mask with double glass up front (like ski goggles). Also make sure you have easy access to your nose with the mask on (to equalise the pressure - although some people insist this is a bad practice).

wetsuits and weight belts are "nice to haves" but not necessary in summer (for short dives). Same same with a diving knife but a knife can be a worthwhile investment to cut free and retrieve snagged lures and sinkers etc - which you will come across. A knife can also be used to cut cunji which will act as burley when spearing.

Techniques vary - what Red said is absolutely correct, but you will find (as a general rule) that chasing the fish will do just that - chase them away. Most fish are inquisitive when not threatened, so diving down and waiting for the fish to come to you can be productive (and is really the only way to get flighty fish like bream). Luderick (blackfish) seem to be the staple in Sydney Harbour and Botany bay - they typically make up about 75% of my bag - and are very susceptible to the inquisitive technique. Wrasse tend to be very susceptible to spearfishing and some species have been protected (such as gropers for example). Flathead can be easy to spear if you can spot them.

Locations are easy to find - structure in shallow water is what you are looking for. Groynes off Kurnell and Brighton (Botany Bay) and the reef close in at Middle Head (Harbour) are typical examples of spearing territory (there is no spearfishing allowed in Port Hacking). Look for something around 6m depth or less IMHO. The reason I say this is that you use more oxygen at greater depths so you will be able to sustain yourself longer submerged at 2m compared with 10m (plus you don’t waste as much air getting to and from the surface).

Again, if you want to go for a yak fishing trip one day you are welcome to use one of my spears and I will show you some of the spots I have had luck with in Sydney.
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G’day all

I’m a long time spear fisher from boats, shore, kayak. Back in the day I went out 3-4 times a week from Barwon Heads in Vic where I grew up and Warrnambool where I went to uni. I have also spearfished in every state of Australia (except Tassie).

I get out less these days as we now live in Adelaide but still enjoy poking holes in fish every chance I get.

I will try not to repeat the good advice that has already been given but have listed a few brief tips below:

· What kit is needed? – you need to be able to see the fish, swim fast, be warm, and have somewhere to put the fish. Most of all you need to be comfortable.

· what depths and bottom seascape should be targeted? The best bit of spearfishing is that you can see the fish. Try new spots at different tides/times and see what is around. The variable of the fish not biting is removed. As always, a good tip is to look for structure.

· How deep is it realistic to dive to in order to target fish and other bottom type stuff (obviously largely based on fitness levels)? Practice…….but fish are at all depths, you just have to find em. I know people who cant duck dive who still pull fish.

· What sort of safety precautions/kit should one observe/acquire e.g. I would think that having a pony (small emergency breathing apparatus not a little horse) strapped to your leg could be beneficial? Personal preference, but you wont enjoy yourself if you don’t feel safe.

· what sort of entry level spear gun/spear features should one go for? I like a single point with wings (you know what I mean). They are stronger and cope with hitting reef etc better. Start cheep till you learn what you want (if you are poor like me). I prefer guns.

· Techniques, tips and diving secrets of the rich and famous? Practice, practice, practice, don’t get stuck doing the same things. Adapt, change and learn. Each area/species is different and requires different techniques.

· Species to target etc etc? If you will eat it, shoot it. A real challenge is big King George whiting. I usually only spear one or 2 good fish and explore/get crays the rest of the time

· Best way to position the whole thing so that the wife buys all the kit for me for Christmas. Beg
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Great reply Deano. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

I have bought a good set of long stiff fins, a good quality mask, good snorkel, some weights and a belt and 2 spears from Annaconda ($9 bucks a piece on members special). I also got some good advice from Ted at Fathom Extreme Spear diving on Pittwater road.

Can't wait to get into it! A question...how far up the spear does one hold when engaging the rubber in oder to get the distance speed? About half way where the join is seems to be the go?

JT
Unfortunately, due to the change in ownership of this web site and the lack of response by the owners to my requests to remove my email address from all administrative-level notifications and functionality, I have decided to remove my posts on AKFF. Thank you for the great times, the fantastic learning experiences and the many many fish. If you are desperate for the old content of this particular post, it is available below base64 encoded and bzip2 compressed.

Red.

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Ted and Ash from extreme are handy for knowledge i've been there many times hehe.

i usually hold the handspear half way up as red said, but i dont swim around with it loaded only when i find something to shoot.

It's Great fun stalking the fish with a handspear over/under rocks.

Let me know if you're spearing near me and i'll try and come out too

Timm
I always grab the join because it provides a solid gripping surface. I tend to use the same grip when firing into caves or at a fish with a rocky background - and to protect the spear I pull back on the rubber in mid-flight (after guessing the range of the fish compared with the rocky background). Even though sometimes I guess wrong and still hit the rock, most of the momentum can be taken out of the collision.

If you don't pull the rubber back far enough on the load you will have a slow spear that is more easily evaded by the fish and may have trouble penetrating the fish (the fish will sometimes shake itself off the end of the spear).

Let me know if you need a spearfishing buddy on one of your trips - I'd love to check out the spot you have heard about.
Good stuff. I can smell a spear fishing trip coming up Deano. I know Gatesy is also very keen. I am sure there is a lot that some of you more seasoned guys can teach us beginners. Where would you suggest starting around Sydney Deano? Good structure, not too deep, plenty of fish, good vis and some variety? Oh yea and no biteys either.

JT
JT said:
Good stuff. I can smell a spear fishing trip coming up Deano. I know Gatesy is also very keen. I am sure there is a lot that some of you more seasoned guys can teach us beginners. Where would you suggest starting around Sydney Deano? Good structure, not too deep, plenty of fish, good vis and some variety? Oh yea and no biteys either.

JT
I used to take some mates down to balmoral beach, on the left there is a rocky section that goes out. its got some good structure and ive caught plenty of fish there. Its very calm and no biteys hehe you only have to watch out for the hired kayaks haha

Do you have a float? i have one with a flag to let them know im diving in the area, otherwise you may pop up under them.
unless your diving from your yak

Timm
Balmoral is a good place to launch the yak, and the rocks just past HMAS PENGUIN (near the nudie beach) hold some good fish - plenty of blackfish (see my trip report from last week for more info). The rock wall just off Balmoral beach would hold some as well I would assume.

I haven't seen any sharks near Balmoral, but it is naive to think they are not there. Where I have been near Balmoral, it is only a few meters from shore - so a hasty retreat is possible (which gives a certain degree of reassurance).

I have been stalked by sharks before when spearing offshore, but I have never seen one in harbour. The ones I have seen offshore just circle and keep their distance (they seem to be as wary of you as you are of them). I have actually tried to approach the sharks and they take off - it's probably not unlike a dog - if you run from it, it will chase you down - if you run after it, it will run away. Most sharks are harmless anyway - there are only a few species that will try to take you out, and the odds of coming across them are pretty small. My dad and I have been spearing for years and he has only seen a tiger shark once about 3km offshore (that one circled him and made him understandably nervous, but lost interest when it figured out he wasn't a fish), and I am yet to come across anything more dangerous than a reef shark and wobbegong (both of which I tried to spear for lunch).

If you are in company you are far safer because the odds of spotting a shark are far greater - once it's spotted, most of the danger is gone - it's the one you don't see that gets you. Don't let it bother you - the fear of most people is based more on the movie 'Jaws' than of reality.

I am off work Wed and Thurs this week (13, 14 Dec) and Sun (17 Dec) if you want a trip out this week. Otherwise I am also off on 18, 21, 22, 23, 24 Dec.
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i have seen port jacksons around there and heaps of eggs, but as for anything to be concerned about its fine, ofcourse you should always be cautious.

Also try freshwater behind harbord diggers or north curl curl, if the weather is right it isn't to bad just dont go out to far if you're starting off.
I also copped a bluebottle across the face at north curl curl, that was fun :roll:
The sharks don't worry me a hell of a lot. As long as you have options i.e. retreat wise then it is fine. I have dived with them in lots of places including in a cave in Hawaii and for the most part they bolt as soon as they see you. Particularly if you are in numbers. Obviousoy there are exceptions to this, particularly by species and other factors like burley/deadfish.

Now to my question. Someone mentioned crayfish earlier. Has anyone taken crays and what pointers can be given in terms of finding them and capturing/handling them (the cooking part I can already do). Appreciate any tips! :D

Cheers,

John
driftr said:
I also copped a bluebottle across the face at north curl curl, that was fun :roll:
I feel your pain mate, I copped a bluebottle across my top lip coming up from a scuba dive off Julian Rocks at Byron Bay. I looked like a simpsons character for a few hours until the swelling subsided :oops:

As for the crays....look in holes caves and ledges, and under rocks. Pay attention to areas that are in shadow. Push kelp masses aside to see if they conceal ledges. You'll VERY rarely see a cray from the surface, most of your serious looking will need to be on the bottom. Practice that breath hold!

If you find one, IMO the best spot to grab em is at the spiny base of the feelers (the horns). Having gained a good purchase on the horns, seesawing the cray from side to side and up and down should dislodge it :wink:
For cray diving, I recommend kevlar gloves. You have to be careful of bigger crays as they can spike you between their tail and carapace. That being said, in the heat of the battle, you tend to just grab them and yank them out anyway you can. Usually they back into a hole, feelers out and well and truly lodged against the rocks with thier spikes. If you can get a thumb and forefinger to thick part of the antler and start jiggling them, you can eventually get them.

You can spot a cray diver a mile away. Holes in his knees, holes in his gloves, his tank is usually out of air, and scrape marks on the hood of his wetty. Once you get a bit of confidence up, most cray divers will take off their BC and tank and go in on the reg hose to chase a cray (my hose is 9ft long - for diving, not bragging).

It's always helpful to have a buddy as "bag man". If you find a ledge with lots of crays and can get them, you can just pass them backwards to the bag man. You have to put them in the bag bum first, as they are slippery little suckers and will try and get away as soon as they can.
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Hey JT - have you managed to christen your spear yet?

Let me know if you want to go out - I am doing heaps of spearfishing at the moment because my brother-in-law has just picked it up - all our trips are straight off the beach and in protected waters until he gets his confidence up. You are welcome to join us (we have been going most Sundays recently and on random Friday afternoons as well).
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