The forecast was for spectacular conditions between 6am and 9am with WSW winds less than 7 knotts and an ESE swell less than 1m, with conditions expected to change to significantly worse after 9am. Due to this being the first and best chance to get into the water and try out my two new guns I had recently purchased a Riffe Euro 130 and a Pathos Roller carbon 82, I managed to convince my trusty sidekick to get out of bed for a 6am start (we both had to travel over an hour to get to our spot). After meeting up at a local supermarket and leaving his (city boy) car, we boarded the Landcruiser to travel to our final location. Our first challenge it seemed came from several road closures – the recent bushfires had rendered some of the roadside trees dangerous and so the local council had maintained road closures. After determining a suitable detour that added about 20 minutes to our trip, we were travelling the last 6kms by forest trail (4wd only road) when we came across a French tourist walking up the trail (630am) alone. He explained that he had spent the night in his bogged juicy van further down the track and needed assistance. Riding on the side steps of the Landcruiser until we came across his vehicle, the juicy van was completely perpendicular to the trail, and completely blocking passage either side due to the thick foilage. We were met by our French tourists seemingly only comrade as we proceeded to let down tyres and hook up a snatch strap in a very not ideal orientation – we were puling the vehicle from behind (the only available tow point) and needed to pull it perpendicular to its direction of travel. After explaining to the tourist the procedure of 1. Engine running, 2. Reverse Gear, 3. No acceleration under any circumstances, using the power of the Landcruiser I hit the snatch strap at a reasonable pace which was enough to pull the juicy van free. The only problem was the tourist panicked, hit the accelerator and shot backward travelling a distance of about 20 metres and subsequently re-bogged the van after smashing into a tree large enough to damage three of the panels of the van. After this incident, I was completely surprised to see 4 other people climb out of the van and roof top tent (3 girls and one guy) obviously shaken by the little accident. Fairly astonished by the fact that they hadn’t bothered to tell us that there were others in the tent and the van, we re-oriented again for a - direction of travel snatch and subsequently un-bogged the vehicle for the second time. As you might expect, I had sacked the French tourist from the driving position and replaced this responsibility with that of my spearfishing mate. 2 up for the Aussies, the Frenchies made up for it by explaining some interesting breath holding techniques for free diving. Apparently they were experienced free divers and after showing us an App that assists with breath training (will review this later once we’ve used it fully) we carried on to our destination, arriving about an hour late and hitting the water at 7am.
The fires and road blocks must have been deterring spearos from this fairly well known spot for 2 weeks or so, because despite the conditions being considerably rougher than anticipated, there were fish everywhere right from entry. Very keen to try my new Riffe however, I saw no end of problems with the shooting line tangling after every shot (and in between every shot). Despite following my well-practiced pre entry procedure reloading and running the shooting line, it seemed that under the water with the added tension of the powerbands, there was just too much slack in the shooting line to stay put in the rigged position. About 200 metres from shore and after spending about 10 minutes on a tangle that wouldn’t budge, I decided to head in to shore to once and for all sort out the problem. On shore and after going through my, ‘’don’t blame the tools’’ mantra, I realized that in this case, it was actually a case of the tool requiring adjustment. The shooting line was simply too long by about an inch, and when rigging the line as per manufacturer instructions, there was no stretch at all in the shooting line bungy, so no tension forming on the line. This was the situation out of the water with no power band attached, so I resolved to fix this later, and reverted to my backup gun, a Pathos Carbon Roller 82. The Pathos, also a new gun for this occasion was an ‘’oh my god this thing is awesome’’ kind of experience. Nailing the first shot of the day being a Red Morwong I loved the handling, speed, comfort and power of this little baby. Originally purchased as my ‘’backup’’gun, I think that I had such a good experience on this day with the Pathos that for midsized hunting, this might be my preferred gun. I am even considering a step up to the 110, since on the same day I managed to sell my Beuchat Carbone Marlin to my mate who fell in love with it.
Having no problems with the Pathos, I ventured further out however was soon fighting the largest undertow I have ever seen. After a missed shot, the few minutes I spent reloading the Pathos saw me towed about 200 metres from my starting position. By the time I was heads up I felt a little disorientated and taking a moment to work out where I was suddenly realized the strength of the current I was in. Thankfully, my DiveR fins kept me entirely confident as I pushed against the current and made progress into a slight cove sheltered from the current.
After a look around the cove for lobsters and not finding any, I realized that it was 1030 and I needed to be out of the water by 11. The weather forecast hadn’t been close with conditions actually calming past 9am instead of turning bad. I wished I could have stayed all day. But I called the day a success with a beautiful Red Morwong and a lot of fun, and good bit of practice with the two guns that I’ll be taking to New Caledonia in March next year. I also enjoyed the ‘’instruction time’’ with my mate who is only just getting started. The 18mm powerbands on my Beuchat proved a bit of a struggle so we will be moving to a 14 mm band set shortly, but it is always nice to help another tailor gear to their experience level and start to enjoy the sport. He walked away with some serious spearo chest marks that tell me he was definitely trying hard enough.
Red Morwong is wonderful table fair and I find that gutting and de-gilling them as soon as possible helps to preserve their freshness. To de-gill, I usually sever the base of the gill plate and then using a gloved hand (the gills are very sharp – never do this without gloves) reach in and pull out the gills. Afterwards place the fish into an esky or similar with ice to preserve. The day after catching I prepared the fish with a buk choy and oyster sauce mix. Finely dice the buk choy and place in a small bowl with a few tablespoons of water. Put some oyster sauce over the top (only a small amount) then cover, and cook in the microwave for only 90 seconds. On this occasion I cooked the Red Morwong in the deep fryer for a different finish. Red Morwong is a beautiful taste – almost like Barramundi but less fleshy, none of the black lines throughout and without the sometimes muddy taste that Barramundi can have. 4 minutes in the deep fryer was enough. Served with a fresh Tahitian lime of my backyard tree and a small amount of white rice, this was a true Asian style delicacy which my family thoroughly enjoyed. Better yet, they subsequently put in an order for more Red Morwong… in my experience there is no better excuse than that to get back in the water!
Over the next couple of days I will adjust the shooting line length on my Riffe Euro 130. Such a beautiful gun it was disappointing to have this ‘’out of the box’’ experience, however that is how the cookie crumbles. It’s experiences like these that advertise more than any other the need to test your gear before doing anything too serious. I have purchase that gun for my trip to New Caledonia next year. It would be a terrible experience to travel internationally like this and find your gear lets you down simply because you haven’t tested it, or aren’t familiar with it. I am looking forward to sorting out this underwater cannon and giving it another try. Overall this was a great day despite quite rough conditions and a late start.
Until next time…