July may be a cold month and the weather can dampen the motivation of many spearfishers to get out and have a dive, but there is certainly plenty of reason to make the effort and brave the cold water.
It’s certainly true that the basic comfort of diving in the warmer months means there are a lot more divers in the water, but for very experienced divers and the keenest enthusiasts among us there is no real off-season. Winter seems to provide some of the most stable weather patterns in terms of conditions that make for calm and clear seas, although the preceding couple of months seem to be trying to disprove that statement. On the far southwest coast of the state, Portland and Port Fairy have had plenty of favourable offshore winds, but this seems to have been accompanied by a long run of very large swell, which has made inshore diving pretty hard. Fingers crossed that July sees the normal weather and swell patterns fall back into line.
Southern bluefin tuna are still very much on the minds of avid bluewater hunters this month and are certainly one of the prime targets. The rough seas haven’t been conducive to offshore diving on the southwest coast but the odd weather window has allowed for an excursion here and there. School tuna have remained quite close to shore after arriving in decent numbers in late January and early February. Winter months see an increasing build up in numbers of fish both inshore and offshore. There has also been a great run of albacore tuna this season compared to the last few years. Albacore are generally located wide in the deeper waters of the shelf and rarely venture in as shallow as bluefin do. The same basic principles and techniques used to hunt bluefin still apply to albacore. Locate them, then berley to keep the school occupied and distracted, focus your attention on targeting one piece of berley. Anticipate the approach of a fish and lead your shot. All tuna move and feed extremely quickly, which makes it very hard to target the shot accurately.
Inshore diving can be exceptional at this time of year with plenty of bread and butter species on offer. Species such as snook (short fin pike), sea sweep, King George whiting, silver trevally, Australian salmon and abalone are pretty much a constant but can be even more prevalent through July.
In the Melbourne/Port Phillip Bay area we will also see an influx of southern calamari laying their eggs in the shallow weed beds. July is the best month to collect scallops in the bay. Southern rock lobster is also an extremely popular target, but please keep in mind that female lobsters are in their closed season and only males can be taken.
Don’t let the winter temperatures put you off, as there is plenty on offer for those willing to get out and have a dive.Reads: 596