Editor’s Note: In October 2013, I had the pleasure of hosting family from abroad visiting Australia for the first time. It was a long overdue visit and to use their words, it was “a trip of a lifetime” – the highlight being The Great Barrier Reef. S & JP are seasoned divers and spearfishermen. They have dived seas and oceans all around the world including the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, Thailand, Reunion Island, Majorca, the Greek Islands and Oman. This is their story, narrated by S, in his own words.
Spearfishing The Great Barrier Reef
October 21, 2013 – We’re off to Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. We had two days of scuba diving in protected areas. The reef was in a fair shape considering the daily amount of boats and divers visiting. We saw some fish but nothing spectacular, including small white tip sharks.
We were amazed to notice that the colours of the corals and fish were fading, no spectacular displays, but Mr Nemo came true and we could take pictures. Then came the masterpiece of the whole trip, Spearfishing The Great Barrier Reef.
We had booked a one day collective spearfishing trip with 4 other people, then a two-day, one-night on the reef private charter with Reelcrayzee Charters. But when the other people cancelled, Oscar, the owner of the company proposed to us a two-night, three-day charter for the original sum we had agreed upon, with no extra charges.
Three days, two nights out on THE reef; I put this in block letters to savour it and recall all the good moments spent with Roberto and Kodi.
Oscar did not know if we were good divers/spearfishermen so Julie, his mother sent mountains of food, fruits and beverages for the trip. We did not comment and waited to see the reaction of the crew.
It took more than two hours at full speed to reach the reef. We couldn’t wait for them to throw the anchor and we dove. All around us there was blue water and some patches of shallow reef -that was the eerie décor. No land in sight, no cell phone coverage, only the radio and a Thuraya connection just for emergencies.
We really felt as one with the sea.
JP had brought all his gear including his 105 cm gun. I inherited a Rob Allen 100 CM with double 16 mm rubber bands. Being used to the 75 cm/20mm Picasso, it took me some trials to arm the gun but I discovered that I did not need more than one rubber, this spear went through anything no matter how big it was, new task, find a Rob Allen 100 gun.
On his first dive, JP shot a nice sized calamari and decided to keep holding it in order to attract bigger fish. Well he succeeded so well that an aggressive tiger shark crowded him, but cool JP shot some footage of the shark and delivered the calamari to the boat.
So we started diving and landing nice fish; snappers, groupers, tuskfish, mackarel, emperor etc…
We caught lobsters, they call them Cray there, big ones and the food Julie sent was relegated to breakfast and afternoon nibbles.
We ate the crays and fish in all kind of ways, marinated, battered, fried, seared and grilled. We even introduced them to the trigger fish fried in butter (they thought it was not edible) but done our way, they loved it.
I am glad to mention that from the first day we earned the respect of Roberto (professional freediver, clocking 40 meters plus dives) and Kodi, lobster man extreme.
We had to watch each other as the white tips, black tips got interested in us so much so that JP had to shoo one black tip that was following me too close for comfort. We did not lose one fish to the sharks as we never kept a shot fish on our stringers but delivered them to the boat immediately. We followed Rob’s tip not to drag the shot fish but to hug it close to our chests so as not to let the sharks eat it.
First night, we turned in really early, totally exhausted by the excitement, our dives, the reef hopping and the sun. We ate some of our catches and then tried night line fishing, the guys got a big grouper but put it back in as they said it was protected. I hooked something big that nearly pulled me over but it managed to cut loose before reaching the surface.
The next night was tough because on top of our exhaustion, the wind picked up and the sea became very rough, the only way the Great Barrier Reef can be.
On one of our reef hops, Rob proposed a drift spear fishing with berley. It is an eerie sensation seeing berley being tossed over your head, sinking slowly and at the back of your mind the sharks are ever present.
We thought we were supposed to go to the bottom, so we were struggling against the current and the depth of the dives, exhaustion came first to me then to JP.
On the boat we were told that we should have stayed in mid water, you learn something new every day.
JP saw 2 bull sharks, no danger, and managed to lose 2 big Spanish Mackarel, one the 105 did penetrate fully, the second shot high with a 140 cm non-accurate Rob Allen gun.
THE best fish of the whole trip was shot by yours truly, a Tusk fish of around 10 kgs with a pull of a 20 kg fish.
Leaving the reef was like leaving one’s love, and although JP told me that he had had enough shooting fish, we were like in a day-dream.
Apart from 3 days and nights eating fish and crays on the boat, we brought back a big cooler with lots of fish and crays in it.
We proceeded to fillet them (most of the work done by the pros, Rob and Kodi). My cousin in Sydney ended up receiving 2 Alaska coolers filled with fish fillets.
Till now, I still dream of the reef and it might take a very small nudge for me to repeat that trip.
Thank you S & JP for allowing us to share your Great Barrier Reef experience on Gourmantic.
Photography by S & JP – Copyright: All rights reserved.
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