Interview with Barret Harvey | African Spearfishing Diaries
This interview with Barret Harvey starts off with the background behind several recent videos on the ‘African Spearfishing Diaries’ YouTube Channel. I was curious as I had seen the 2-3 of his latest videos and they are froth-makers. He has continued to pump out a new 8-12 minute spearfishing vid every week. We also chat about locations and species with plenty of practical tips and ideas along the way. At the 59 minute mark we get right into the skillset required to become a spearfishing videographer. Listen in and subscribe.
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A Bit About Barret Harvey
Barret Harvey is a South African spearo probably best well know as the creator of African Spearfishing Diaries. He started Spearfishing at 15 years of age when he moved from Johannesburg to Durban on the east coast of South Africa. He has been spearing for 29 years. Barret first filmed himself and others spearing when he was 21. So he has been filming Spearfishing for around 25 years. He’s married and now lives and dives in Qatar in the Middle East. He works on a live broadcast team as the specialist Drone pilot but works on both drone and camera for most sports.
The episode covers the equipment, techniques, mindset, buddy system and personal lessons learned by an avid Southern Bluefin Tuna chaser. James Beckman @southernspearfishing is one of Melbourne’s local legends and as such, I organized an interview with him live in the Adreno Melbourne Store (thanks to legend Patrons for funding the trip!). Along with the SBT chat I discover stories and insights from James’s life spearfishing.
Big thanks to James for taking me out for a day spearfishing and harvesting scallops in Port Phillip Bay:) Jetski spearfishing is pretty fun!
5:00 James Beckman introduction and spearfishing background. Chasing small fish in the shallows, calamari and discovering the stoke.
10:00 Early struggles spearfishing.
Overcoming loading challenges.
Selecting a correct length speargun.
Meeting mentors, dive buddies and finding a community.
How to get out on boats. Rules, etiquette basics and paying
19:00 Most memorable catch. WA Dhufish (20+kg)
21:45 Scariest moments in the ocean. Surge hunting on the back beaches of Melbourne
28-day Freediving Transformation. Want to increase your bottom time? Want to lower your comfortable operating depth? Want to increase your breath hold? In 4 weeks you can transform your physiology to improve your performance as a freediver. Learn the proven strategies competitive freedivers use to strengthen their performance.
Equalization Masterclass. If you are freediver who struggles to equalize your ears in the 15-30 ft range this course is the answer. 14 videos discuss every equalizing problem and coach you through the difficulty. Say goodbye to Valsalva and hello to Frenzal and make equalizing easy.
Tuesday Ted Talks Freediving. 19 one hour live Instagram episodes where I discuss a variety of freediving topics and answer peoples question live on Instagram.
Free online courses – How to take a 20-30% bigger breath and how to make the mammalian dive reflex work for you. www.FreedivingSafety.com – Free online safety resource.
If you would like to learn more about spearfishing setups for chasing big Dogtooth Tuna, underwater photography or even the mindset of an experienced watermen, then this episode with Andre Rerekura is for you. Andre is one of the co-founders of Terra Australis, a collaborative between some very talented guys who make films in and on the ocean. In this chat we learn a tonne of hunting insights while meeting a spearo whose mindset has shifted from shooting fish every chance he gets to selecting and taking a fish only when he’s hungry.
Dual spearfishing world record holder John Pengelly joins us and shares the tales of these two special fish taken from the waters of French Polysnesia. On his second day in the Austral Islands John took the opportunity to shoot a 137 lb or 62.6 kg Wahoo that beat out the former record by more than 12lbs. As if the Wahoo wasn’t enough John went out again and shot a 240 lb or 109 kg Dogtooth Tuna smashing the former 91kg, 200.4 lb model taken by former guest on the show Cameron Kirkconnell in Indonesia. This interview is packed full of practical information and ideas to improve your spearfishing. Listen in!
John Pengelly Spearfishing Dogooth World Record 240 lb or 109 kg
John Pengelly Spearfishing Dogtooth Tuna World Record. 109kg or 240 lbs
Key takeaways for me from this interview
Opportunity (good and bad) comes when you least expect it
Body positioning for pelagics + shot placement is crucial (listen for further detail)
Stay calm in tough situations by doing the best you can with what you’ve got + keep a good first aid kit
Taking a world record. Using certified scales and taking the second shot with a speargun you loaded yourself
Prepare your gear a week in advance of a big trip
As if this bloke wasn’t cool enough with two impressive world record fish he then had to go and get himself a girlfriend that loves spearfishing as well (I’m glad she gave him some encouragement to come on the show:)Thanks for giving him a push Hilary!
Down to earth, relaxed and insightful. That was my impression of John after an hour chatting with him on this interview. Listen in for some awesome tips and insights from John Pengelly!
John Pengelly Wahoo Spearfishing World Record 62.6kg or 137 lbs
Episode Time Stamps
5:00 How John started spearfishing
7:00 First memorable fish and learning how to start regularlyspearfishing Coral Trout. We have a good discussion about learning early hunting techniques
11:00 French Polynesia – a trip straight off the back of an (unsuccessful) trip to Norfolk Island. John was working at Ocean Hunter in New Zealand at the time when he was given the opportunity to head over and hunt with well regarded spearfishing Gerard Grave aka “G” in the Austral Islands G’s French Polynesian backyard. This is one hell of a story about one hell of a trip. Two very special fish taken over several days.
38:00 What were your major struggles when you started spearfishing?
Freediving and pushing breath-hold with mates
What helped with your spearfishing?
Freedive pool training, USFA safety video (link below), mentors and experienced spearos
41:00 What are your current spearfishing challenges?
45:00 What is your favorite spearfishing hunting technique and how do you apply it effectively?
Be relaxed and keep your body language calm. Slow movements
Take in your surroundings and get out of the ‘seek and destroy’ mentality
Learn fish body language. Watch and observe before pulling the trigger
Coral Trout – approach them from the top in free fall. Especially for the cagey big ones!
Adopt the attitude that going home empty handed is ok
50:00 What has been your toughest situation in the ocean? (we get 3!)
A mate blacking out in Johns early days and timely rescue
John’s been attacked by a Bull Shark off Lamont Reef
A mate falling 7 meters from a rock and landed on his head
66:00 Veterans Vault – Understanding the Oceans Cycles
Don’t believe everything you hear
Keep a Dive Log
Develop your own forecasting methods
Learn to enjoy the whole spearfishing process
75:00 Whats the funniest moment you’ve had out spearfishing?
79:00 What is in your spearfishing divebag?
82:00 Spearo Q&A
What is the single best piece of advice you’ve been given spearfishing?
Who has been the most influential person in your spearfishing?
During your 11 years spearfishing what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
What does the spearfishing experience mean to you in one sentence?
Who is the best person to go spearfishing with and why?
Spearfishing hunting techniques for days in this interview. Cris walks us through techniques he has used to successfully hunt Bohar Snapper, Kuta (Spanish Mackerel), and Yellowfin Tuna. In the Veterans Vault Cris shares 9 huge spearfishing tips and at least a few will surprise you. His preparation for this interview was excellent and the information shared is absolutely gold. With several world records, countless spearfishing in exotic locations and his practical South African manner Cris is a real wealth of knowledge and this interview is brilliant.
I have to admit it, I’m spewing I missed this chat with Cris. Due to time and work and pressures I couldn’t make it so yesterday I had a few rum and cokes and listened to Turbo’s first solo interview with Cris and I really enjoyed it. This is a lekker chat with a cool bloke! I sat there taking notes at times as Cris lays out some great insights and tips that he’s learned from countless hours spearfishing, talking and watching legends spear and applying his own research and theories. The things that stood out particularly for me were his breath-up technique, 3 specific species hunting techniques, Bok Koors (Buck fever in Afrikaans) and his passion for the sport. Have a listen!
4:00 Cris’s background and beginnings spearfishing. Stealing his Fathers speargun with his brother and getting into mischief with his love of the water. Underwater hockey, triathlons and Lake Kariba.
7:00 Spearfishing Mentors: Mark Jackson and Adriaan Kriel (AK)
11:00 What changes and improvements did you see when you got more serious about spearfishing in your early 40’s?
Travis Hogan holds a passion for hunting big pelagic species like Dogtooth Tuna, wahoo and yellowfin Tuna on the Great Barrier Reef. Travis is the owner of Aimrite Australia and we spoke to Travis about his passion for Bluewater hunting in North Queensland and what it takes to have success chasing these powerful fighting fish.
Travis explained to us that bluewater hunting on the GBR is seasonal, generally September through to January. I must admit this came to some surprise to me as I thought the warm tropical waters were always productive for pelagic species.
The current runs from North to South and is essential for finding dogtooth tuna and other pelagic fish.
Travis firmly believes that the front edge of the reef where the current hits first is by far the most productive area of the reef for pelagic species. So much so that he is adamant you will be wasting your time anywhere else.
“You’ll see a lot more fish on that front edge then if you were drifting off the back of the reef. Don’t jump into no mans land. You’re better off being where the fish are.”
He recommends to keep moving and searching for the fish. Particularly bait fish that pelagic’s will feed on. It makes sense to locate their food source. The bait will often sit on the front edge attracting the larger predatory species like wahoo.
“If you’re drifting along the edge of a reef and you’re off the back of the reef get in the boat, get all yourshit in the boat and go back out for another drift”
Another technique that Travis employs is to venture off the continental shelf and look for floating debris. He says the debris attracts Dolphin fish (mahi mahi) and wahoo.
Every year there is an aggregation of big eye tuna and yellowfin tuna schools in Travis’ area. Travis will look for baitfish being schooled up by predatory fish on the surface. He calls this surface action “bust up’s”. Bird’s dive-bombing the surface for baitfish is another give away known as “birds working the surface”.
“It’s literally an aggregation of Big Eye (tuna) and Yellowfin Tuna but unfortunately you’ve got to be ready to go when it’s on and know where it is”
Travis will watch the school and try to pre-empt where the school is moving then move in front of the school and dive. Unfortunately Travis says they can do this all day and sometimes never shoot a thing but insists persistence is the key. Often a very difficult thing to maintain when there’s so many tasty reef fish in the area
“We try to get in front of it then jump in and do a dive to ten- fifteen metres and hope a couple of Yellowfin are swimming through it.”
“Doggies love current”
We all want to shoot a trophy dogtooth tuna and North Queensland is a great place to do it. Travis stresses that to improve your chances of encountering a dogtooth tuna you should engage a guide or at least someone that dive’s the area regularly. He says it’s one thing to know there’s dogtooth in the area but it’s another thing to know exactly where they are going to be in the prevailing conditions. According to Travis it comes down to currents and finding that front edge where the current is.
“If you’re on the back of the reef you’re literally not going to see a thing”
Travis recommends early morning and late afternoon for the best chance at a dogtooth tuna.
The Ribbon reefs are sections of the Great Barrier Reef known to North Queenslanders as the Ribbons. According to Travis the Ribbons become more productive later in the year. He recommends the incoming tide that brings with it the clean blue water. It also brings with it large pelagic species like wahoo. The reverse is true for the reef species.
“On the outgoing tide it’s the reverse, all your reef species are up and alive”
The dogtooth tuna is famous for being a dirty fighter and will uncover any weak points in a spearo’s equipment.
Travis recommends using a rigline and two or three floats when targeting big pelagic’s. The floats he uses are Aimrite two atmosphere floats with Riffe braided floatline and his own bungee for extra confidence. He uses an Aimrite King Venom or double roller as he needs the range in clear water as well as the penetration power for these large fish.
“We’re always using rig lines and two or three floats”
The setup he uses is simple and robust and gets the job done.
After speaking with Travis it’s clear he has spent substantial time out wide searching for large pelagic species on the Great Barrier Reef. One of the clear points is finding the impact points of current on the reef. It takes time and patience to find these productive fishy spots and you need to stick to your guns to make it happen but the rewards are definitely worth it.
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Happy Hunting I hope this improves your chances of shooting a big pelagic fish. If you have any comments make sure to leave them below.