AUS Bluewater Classic

BY TRAVIS HOGAN

To say I’m not a big fan of competitions is an understatement. I never grew up around the club scene nor did I grow up where competitions were held in such high regard and maybe this is why my views are different to others especially the “older” generation of divers. In fact after competing at the Australian Titles off Lucinda last year for the “experience” of comp diving its fair to say that I believe these types of competitions are a dying format. The fact divers are swimming off and diving by themselves and shooting as many fish as possible just isn’t my cup of tea but there is a format of competitions that I am really enjoying and that is the Bluewater formats in both Townsville and Coffs Harbour.

I have just recently returned from a trip down South for the annual Australian Bluewater Classic hosted by Coffs Harbour Bluewater Freedivers. Similar to the Townsville comp, the Bluewater Classic scores pretty much the same with the focus being on Pelagic species with the odd reef/coastal fish scoring as well (Snapper and Jewfish). This Competition allows each diver to weigh in 5 fish for the entire weekend and due to the change in structure (for the better I believe) divers only have to be back for the weigh in on Sunday afternoon allowing more time to dive and target quality fish. You can also sign on electronically provided all of the safety requirements are satisfied… Why do I like these competitions? Because it’s sustainable and safe, with divers diving in a team and having a boaty to keep a safe watch over the area they are spearfishing in. That and the fact its more fun diving with your mates!

For the past 5 years Aimrite has sponsored the competition however this was the first year I have been able to travel south and present the speargun to the winning Junior. I also saw this as a great opportunity to check out the diving on offer on the North Coast of NSW which I haven’t really experienced before. One thing I was looking forward to was seeing some nice southern species and short runs in the boat to the areas we would be diving. Last season off Cairns we were travelling up to 90nm offshore to find Wahoo, now we would only be going 1/10th of that…

My dive buddies for the trip were Aimrite Team Diver Jack Howard, Andrew Moderer (Amod) and Perry Neil was our dedicated boaty meaning the 3 of us would have as much time in the water as possible. On the Friday we spent the day scouting and much to our surprise there was no current, dirty water and no fish… Things weren’t looking good and we knew we were going to have to dive hard to find some nice fish especially 5 of them. I did however manage to shoot a nice Tailor about 4kg which was a first for me and Amod landed a nice Mackerel about 20 kegs!

We woke up at 4am on day 1 of the comp and after a few bananas and a coffee we were putting the boat in and off to our first spot which was North and a shoal we had heard some really good things about…. However that wasn’t to be the case. It was green, dirty, cold and reverse current making for some horrible diving. After a few drifts Amod and Jack managed to get small Kingy each about 7kgs and were on the board but we weren’t going to hang around as there wasn’t much else. South we headed in search of bluewater and big fish and upon arrival we had about 20m of silty vis making it hard going. We dived hard, up and down constantly and were eventually rewarded. Amod got a nice Mac Tuna on board and I landed a nice King of 15kg and a Pennant Trevally to give me a couple of nice fish on the score board. All of a sudden Jack came up from a dive like he had shot a Dogtooth and thats exactly what it was, a 3kg Pup shot in NSW… Crazy!! We went closer in where Amod landed a Spanish Mackerel and Jack got a nice Highfin Amberjack to put the boys right in contention…

As the day was ending we hung around on the pinnacles out wide with no other boats about we were hoping for a Wahoo to show up. After a couple drifts I spotted a two solid fish cruising through and managed to place a good shot in one of them. Unfortunately the fish took off so fast the shaft ripped out as I was trying to land it but the good news was Jack had managed to stone the another fish with his 140 Super Venom as it was distracted with all the commotion. Amod had also landed one and unfortunately they didn’t return. End of day 1 we had some nice fish on board and were happy with our efforts so we headed in for the day and finished it off with a quick Snapper hunt in close which was unsuccessful…

Day 2 and another 4am start. This time we headed straight for Snapper country and were in the water before the sun came up! I was swimming in through a gutter and saw the tail of a small Snapper in the wash but he was well and truly onto me. After a few dives I was about to swim to the boat before noticing a crack at about 9m on a ledge so I took one more dive to see if there might be a cray in there. Once I was down there I was pretty well hidden from the gutter on the other side and to my surprise it was about to work to my advantage. I looked up and noticed a small Snapper about 2kg cruising through so I swung my 105 King Venom Roller around but once again was too slow and missed the opportunity on him but as luck would have it there was a school of about 5 Snapper right behind him and my gun was pointed right at the biggest one and I didn’t hesitate on letting the shaft fly! After a quick fight he was in my hands and I was absolutely pumped to have that fish on the deck and in the esky. They have such a presence in the water and I was stoked with a new PB!

From there we headed to a high spot where Jack got his Mackerel and I landed an AJ to give me 4 species. Jack was now on 5 and so was Amod and things were looking good for our boat…. Time was ticking and so once again we went wide looking for Wahoo and we managed to find them with Jack stoning his second one at 21.5kg. I missed my opportunity unfortunately but was just happy to see them cruising through….

Arriving at the weigh in we were greeted by the other divers and weighed our fish in. From what we could see Jack and Amod were going to be right in contention and I was just stoked to be the only one who weighed in a Snapper. Not bad for a Cane Toad!!

With the weigh in done we scrubbed up and headed to the RSL for the presentation and some well deserved beers! It was great to meet and greet a few divers I have only known through FB including the Juniors. This year Oliver George, a Coffs local took out the Juniors division with 5 species including a nice 10kg Jewfish. It was a very close Competition overall and Amod took out 4th place with Jack Howard winning the comp overall with a great haul of fish including 2 Wahoo, Mackerel, Aj and a Kingy.

I would highly recommend the Bluewater Classic as it is a very fun comp to do and the camaraderie is great. There is some great prizes to be won by all, even if you don’t shoot a fish the lucky door prizes are plentiful thanks to sponsors such as Neptonics, Adreno, By the Gills and Drystore. It is only $50 to enter as well so costs are minimal and for $20 the RSL put on a great roast and there were seconds if you wanted them.

My next comp will be the Cardwell Comp followed by the NQ Bluewater Invitational which are both great fun and much more relaxed when it comes to the competitive side of things and that’s what its all about, having fun!

EBONY HARPER