Wherever you are, may your summer experiences be memorable although if it is Queensland, Australia you might want to forget the past month! NZ has had its share of gales and rain too causing cancellation and postponement of scheduled spearfishing occasions, the most recent being the South Island Champs. It is as frustrating for organisers as it is for competitors who wonder if an event will go ahead. Where pre-registration is available it solves a lot of problems for both parties. If you are reading this on your computer then you will almost certainly be able to click the link to a pre-registration form if it is available. That way the organisers can let you know updated information rather than Spearfishing NZ sending out hundreds of updates for one event in the hope that those attending get the information. If pre-registration is not available, check the website DETAILS on the Competition Schedule for who to contact about the event.
An abbreviated round-up of completed events is included here and more information and photos can be found on our website. www.spearfishingnz.co.nz
Tauranga Bay promised fantastic diving for the National Spearfishing Championships right up until the day before the first event. With 23 degrees ocean temperatures and up to 30m visibility on off-shore reefs and nearby islands it was swimming pool conditions. And then the remnants of a sub-tropical cyclone arrived giving days of winds from various directions often gusting up to 45 knots. With the added mix of torrential rain and flooding the sea took on the appearance of the waters of a washing machine. Events had to be compressed one upon the other and in the end the final day of the Open Championship was cancelled. It was too dangerous to be out on the water let alone launch or retrieve boats in big waves.Competitors showed a degree of resignation, even humour as the weather deteriorated, perhaps because the contrasting conditions were so unbelievably bad for what was supposed to be summer diving.
The one day of the Open Championship that did run was in relatively sheltered waters on the south side of Doubtless Bay and out at Berghan Point. The SW gale whipped across the top of the cliffs and only those who swam out into the turbulent water off Berghan Point got tossed around by the waves. While some competitors pressed for a larger competition area on the day, both verbal and email feedback since suggest the use of this somewhat smaller sized area met with considerable approval and suited a reduced species fish list. In addition to that, this was the first time our competition disallowed both a) the use of fish for burley b) upgrading the size of your catch and c) required all fish speared to be brought ashore even if they were not going to be weighed. The outcome was illuminating. Our competition in using these constraints must be one of the most conservative spearfishing competitions held anywhere.
The winning pair weighed in 14 fish and tossed out two that were not to be considered. That averages 8 fish between them for a day’s fishing. At the other end of the count were those who weighed in two fish, an average of one each. The total catch weighed in by all competitors was 171 all being edible fish, an average of less than 3.5 fish per person. How anyone could say that a competition such as this takes too many fish beggars their motives and understanding. (Contrast this with the number of fish two line fishermen might keep as well as fish burley used in 6 hours of fishing.) Spearfishing is the most selective and sustainable form of fishing!
Competitors are always grateful for a laugh at the expense of those who get caught out at the scales at the day. There was delight at the irony of Paul Spence, a staunch advocate of disallowing up-sizing of fish, trying to weigh in an undersized kingfish. Minus 100 points Paul! A chagrined Matt Lind helped maintain the air of levity when he handed the Weigh Master a butterfish that was not ‘gutted & gilled.’ Minus 100 Points Matt! (Your advice to both these competitors may, or may not be well received!)
Our thanks to Whangaroa Coastguard which had earlier acted as a patrol boat during the event, collected the weighed fish and subsequently distributed them, while the Bay of Islands Dive HQ’s contribution to the purchasing of disposable cameras kept that event within the margins of affordability.
NZ Champions 2011 Dwane Herbert & Julian Hansford NZ Woman’s Champion Jessica Whiddett NZ Junior Champion Todd Herbert
Further Results can be found on the website www.spearfishingnz.co.nz
Next year, Oakura! (It is more or less midway between Whangarei and the Bay of Islands.) Meanwhile, the selection of the NZ Team to contest the Inter Pacific Championships in March has been deferred until mid February
Great Lake Taupo Catfish Cull, 29th January
Fifty competitors each with a hand spear were anticipating a day in the usually aquarium-like waters of Lake Taupo and a chance to spear as many catfish as could be found. However, it was not to be a re-run of the previous year’s event. This time the warm rains of the previous week had brought flooding to the surrounding catchment and most significantly, melted all the snow on Mt Ruapehu. The combined effect of snow melt and flooding was to cool and discolour the water in the southern half of the Lake where the competition was held. To add to the poorer conditions a predicted strong southerly wind arrived shortly after the competition began, pushing up 1m waves that quickly shut down underwater visibility in shallower waters where many of the catfish are to be found at this time of the year. Various competitors were soon seen back in their cars, driving themselves around the Lake looking for more sheltered waters.
John Anderson & Reid Quinlan proved to be equal to the challenge and in spite of having speared no catfish in the first 2 hours found a still secret location where they amassed a winning total of 79 fish almost double that of the second team, Chris Marshall & ‘DJ’ Moralita with their 40 fish. In all, 324 fish were weighed in, numbers well down on last year. Most competitors later gathered at Motuoapa for a BBQ and prize giving.
Full results can be found on our website www.spearfishingnz.co.nz
(The lower water temperature in Lake Taupo was also a problem the following day when some spearfishers accompanied Dave Mullins on his weekly training free dive in deep water. On this occasion the lowered temperature curtailed his dives to around 70m rather than the planned 100mm)
Wild Blue Summer Series Competition, Wellington. 5th February
Forty divers signed on at Splash Gordon’s in Island Bay for a testing day’s diving on Wellington’s south coast. Northerly winds gusting up to 45 knots raced off shore against a small southerly onshore swell. It made for a difficult fishing experience. Tam Pullan & Josh Harding won with their Butterfish, Blue Cod and Blue Moki plus a crayfish. Most competitors weighed in a Butterfish, four only had Blue Cod and none had Tarakihi. Such low scoring gives a good indication of what the conditions were like! The after-competition BBQ on the other hand was a much easier occasion.
Blue Water Competition March 4, 5 & 6.
This event scheduled for the best two weather days of the three available will begin on the Friday morning, weather permitting. Briefing will be by email in the week prior to the event. It means competitors need to go to our website on the Competition Schedule page to pre-register. The email address you give us will be the address to which we send further information. The preregistration form will be available within the next two days and we would like intending competitors to complete it by Monday 21st.
A new page on the website gives our sponsors the opportunity to show a new product or service. It will be updated at the beginning of each month. Spearfishing NZ is providing this as a service only, and does not endorse any of the content on the page.
A Spearfishing Code of Practice
Coming to a dive shop near you is a brochure suggesting guidelines for safe and responsible spearfishing. Ask for a copy when you are next in store. Many of you will receive it in your online purchase of spearfishing gear from various suppliers who are enthusiastic about the concept and have offered to send it out with their orders. The brochure highlights some safety issues that when not observed have too often brought dire consequences to the diver. At the same time it emphasises preserving our marine resource by taking what you need and familiarizing yourself with the requirements of size and season. We are grateful to the Ministry of Fisheries for their support with this project.