Search in the Murk
Learning to freedive / spearfish in places like Esperance and Augusta I was used to 20m plus vis, little current and 7mm suits. Moving to Broome has therefore been a huge learning curve. Up here I get excited about vis over 2m and, with 10m tides, any current that doesn’t rip your mask off. On the upside the water feels like a hot bath, Oh - except for the Crocs, stingers, sharks and sea snakes that is!
On this particular day in early December I swam out in spectacular 1m vis to an ever reliable channel marker. The wind had been a relentless onshore for about 2 months so as usual I couldn’t see the end of my trusty 1.1m Picasso but seeing as though this was as good as it was going to get for two weeks I kept going.
Cruising down to my favourite ledge I found two 15kg barra hanging in the entrance, pity I wasn’t in Queensland! I mentally shot them and moved on to a few more ledges I know. A “something fish” flashed past in the murk and I pinned it right in the middle, a gold-spot sweetlip, how embarrassing! Still the dog would be happy.
Not much was happening so I backtracked to the barra ledge. No barra this time but there was a “blue something” up the back, wishing for a smaller gun I blasted the spear through the “blue something” and into the reef. “Skilfully” hit through the gills a 5.5kg black spot tuskie proceeded to go berserk on the mono through the oysters. Still not much gets too far on 400lb mono and I skull-dragged him out. A fair bit of swearing later and I extracted my spear from the reef. Needless to say the swim to shore was far more pleasant with such a nice fish from such crap vis.
As soon as I got home I emailed Brett Illingworth of Dive Under to get a baby Picasso, something I could see the end of, something Victorian size. As luck would have it the best day next neap was Christmas day and the wind had dropped – slightly, well I pretended it had anyway!,
As much as I whined diving remained banned for Christmas day (very unreasonable). Still come sunrise on Boxing day I was at my channel marker again, hangover and all. Armed with my new 75cm Picasso I was greeted by 3m vis!! Thinking I was in the Coral Sea I shot a sweetlip and starting burleying. A whole bunch of tuskies turned up, I lined up a 4kg specimen and pinned him though the eyes, “well the gun shoots straight, maybe aim for a more useful spot next time!”
A bit more burley and the “hold your breath till you’re blue in the face technique” and a nice mangrove jack appeared. I lined him up but then a big orange shape caught my eye, mmmm, coral trout, and only 5 minutes from my house. As he rushed past me I belted him in the shoulder, straight into the oysters and snap!, I was cut off, I couldn’t believe how easily standard cord cuts. Not about to lose this fish, and a new spear, I hit the nitro switch on my Cressi Garra 2000’s, He was heading for the channel drop off but took a left a little too tight and too slow, I applied the rugby tackle.
Gun in one hand, fish by the gills in the other, spear hitting me in the head as he thrashed around, I surfaced with my prize. Now that’s the way to cure a hangover! A quick look around for any nasty, fish stealing, whalers and I started to swim for shore, even free shafting a couple of sweetlip for the dog on the way.
Back at home it wasn’t long before the crimps and unbreakable mono came out of the cupboard, ready for the next search in the murk.