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.
You can check out the full Aimrite range with our sponsor www.spearfishing.com.au Remember to use the “noobspearo” code at checkout to save $20 on any purchase over $200.
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.
Larry Gray with a good sized coastal Black Spot Tuskfish shot in the sweet spot.
Hunting blackspot tuskfish is whole lot of fun.
Tusk fish are tasty, good fighters and look great both underwater and in photos. In this article I’ll explain how I learnt to hunt these epic reef fish and finally shoot a big one (10kg).
A few years back on an inshore dive off the Bundaberg coast. I flat out, point blank missed a whopping black spot tusk fish (tusky). Finning along with bleary eyes early in the morning after a late night I noticed something on the bottom and as I duck dived I realised it was a big tusky. I couldn’t believe it, the first one I’d ever seen. He politely paused and rolled over on his side to check me out with his big eye. He did all the things you want your first tusky to do, but I still got so over excited that I rushed the shot and missed. I missed half an acre of tusky at point blank. The memory of that fish has haunted me for years. I’ve shot plenty of tuskies since but none that came near the size of that one. I’ve had mates all shoot big one’s and there’s always one getting paraded around on facebook but I never seemed to even see big ones until recently. Some guys call them their boogie fish, the one that seems to be able to dodge a spear.
My recent encounter with Tusk fish
Recently, before heading off to dive the inshore waters of Central Queensland I came across a tutorial by past podcast guest Trevor Ketchion. This video is a must for anyone wanting to target these tasty hard fighting fish.
It’s a good day when you shoot your first big Tuskie. I was stoked and fortunate enough to stone him.
I picked up alot of tips in Trevor’s tutorial. One of the most interesting points he explains is that you have to take your shot quickly or they’ll leave. They generally give you one opportunity but that’s it, then they’re gone. On our recent spearfishing trip to Central Queensland we saw plenty of tuskies, more than I’ve ever seen before. The fish I encountered on this trip did exactly what Trevor explained time and time again. There is definitely a behavioural pattern there worth noting.
Trevor also explained the rubbly bottom structure he finds tuskies inhabiting. The structure we dived wasn’t really noteworthy. A few scattered rocks or a small bommie with some scattered rocks around seemed to be all that was needed. Thinking back to the big fish I’d missed years ago I realised that fish too was cruising around some scattered rocks with sandy patches between. This is exactly the type of structure Trevor looks for when targeting these fish.
Trevor also reccommends shooting the fish in a soft spot just behind the head in line with the eye. The Tusk fish skull is very hard and the scales further back on the fish are quite tough as well. Trevor explains that it is easy to stone the fish in that area. Once again he was spot on and I managed to stone my fish in that exact spot.
It felt great to cross that fish off of my list finally and I owe a fair bit of it to this great little tutorial by Trevor Ketchion. It goes to show you how valuable advice from experienced spearos really is.
Here’s the roundup of Trevor’s Tusk Fish Tutorial
Tuskies love dirty inshore water so get used to it.
They inhabit rubbly rocky bottoms with sand patches
The are tough so hit the soft spot behind the eye
Crayfish is a possible burly
They spawn during the first westerley of the year so that increses your chances
You get one chance so take the shot as soon as it presents itself.
Trevor gets crazy eye
P.S If you have any more tips feel free to share them with us.
Monkey Face Prickle Back state record holder Jim Russell….wait a minute. What? Monkey Face Prickle Back? before we continue this is what they look like.
Jim with two fine Monkey Face Prickle Back
That’s right Jim Russell from North California joins us and gives us a full orientation to spearfishing in North California. From conditions to species as well as insights into equipment, local clubs and hunting techniques this is a phenomenal chat with a top bloke:)
Jim was super humble when I reached out to him through social media and was very forward about telling me he’s ‘just a weekend warrior’. Well that’s sometimes exactly what we like here at the Noob Spearo and despite Jim’s protests hes a super knowledgeable and experienced spearo with plenty of knowledge that we didnt have before speaking with him. Listen into some bloody good banter about spearfishing in North Cal.
The comp Jim helps run called DOTY (Diver Of The Year) can be found here. DOTY is a really fun yearlong comp that challenges divers to target different species all along the NorCal coast, and keep an online log of their personal bests. Some great prizes donated by generous sponsors listed on DOTY site. Proceeds go to our Pay It Forward fund that my buddies and I started in 2010 to help members of the Norcal kayak angling/diving community dealing with cancer, serious illness or tragedy. So far we have raised and donated over $80,000.
If you are visiting NorCal and looking to dive, post your intro on NCKA or on NorCal Underwater Hunters here
This online resource here is for pics of all of California Coastline…this tool combined with Google Maps and Navionics App can really help give divers ideas of where to explore:
(Unfortunately we lost a bit of sound quality with this interview so our apologies!)
Bloody cracker interview with Niall Cameron, a small charter boat operator in South Africa. Niall is a tonne of fun and he’s exactly the type of bloke I love to go spearfishing with. Fresh from an Ascension Island trip chasing and landing Yellowfin Tuna with a bunch of experienced Kiwi and Aussie spearo’s, Niall shares some of the valuable tips and wisdom he has picked up over the years. As a regular listener to the Noob Spearo Podcast himself Niall comes prepared with stories and information to share with you. Listen in to find out about hunting the White Mussel Cracker, the advantages to buying your first boat and a truckload of tips from diving in thermocline to disregarding bad advice!
A bit more about Niall Cameron
Niall has lived on the coast for most of his 52 years of life. Growing up in Northern Ireland he wast first inspired by a treasure hunting Irishmen (listen to the show for more info) before making the move to Cape Town in South Africa. He also spent some time in Fort Lauderdale, Florida USA, the Caribbean islands, before moving back to South Africa where he now lives on the beach in cannon rocks (near Port Elizabeth where there are many 17th and 18th century shipwrecks).
Niall runs a small charter business fishing and spearfishing. His passion is facilitating a good time for clients and finding fish along with telling funny stories.
He loves boats and shares several hilarious stories in the interview about some interesting times out at sea.
If you are ever in Cannon Rocks, South Africa look up Niall Cameron and head out with him on his Big Blue Charter boat!
Niall Cameron (pictured left) with some happy spearo’s
4:00 Niall’s journey getting started spearfishing in South Africa. Irish unorthodox role model Thor Hamilton. Early obstacles include equipment availability/suitability. Riding a motorbike 26kms to the beach!
13:00 Boat diving and starting to find regular fish in much better conditions + early boating adventures and mishaps (Mush and the case of the missing chest hair).
[Tweet “The whole (spearfishing) world opened up to me when I bought a boat” – Niall Cameron]
23:00 Memorable fish story
31:00 Spearfishing Hunting Technique. Planning and preparing because the hunt starts at home when you are watching the weather. Thermocline spearfishing tips and info.
39:00 Toughest situation Niall has faced in the ocean and what he learned from his experiences.
46:00 Ascension Island Trip with some Australian and Kiwi characters.
Niall Cameron with 98kg left of tuna fro m Ascension Island
54:00 Veterans Vault – the white mussle cracker! Tips, cooking, curry and more.
67:00 Funniest Moment
78:00 Spearo Q&A
This Noob Spearo Podcast episode is proudly brought to you in partnership with …
It was a pleasure to interview Dwayne Herbert the 7 time New Zealand Spearfishing and 1 time Australian Champion recently. Dwayne is sponsored by Beuchat and lives and works down the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand. Dwayne shares with us the story of how he began spearfishing with his Father and his mates commercial diving. In this interview we also get to listen to 2 deep-dives into common New Zealand spearfishing species, covering both Yellowtail Kingfish and Boarfish in detail. An encounter with a Great White Shark recently in poor vis and listening to the process of learning one species at a time are two other major highlights of this interview with laid back kiwi character Dwayne Herbert.
2:00 Getting started with Dad who was a commercial fisherman at 7 years old
Dwayne Herbert as a very young spearfisherman
4:00 Starting out on leather jackets with a Pole Spear
5:00 12kg Snapper by-catch at 10 y/o. He thought it was a Porae
6:00 Early mentors and ‘monkey see, monkey do’ with Dad and his mates
Kingfish Masterclass – Perfect advice and tips particularly for guys just starting to target the big iconic powerhouses. Yellowtail Kingfish are a phenomenal first offering power, pull and the saavy to bury your gun and ensemble in whatever structure is close at hand. Finding pressure points, hitting the rocks with baitfish.
Shot placement and Kingies. Beware of ‘Buck Fever’. Lateral line and up near the gill plate along with the two main speargun aiming techniques, orthodox (down the barrel) and intuitive (by feel). Dwaynes personal best Yellowtail Kingfish (around 40kg). Mentioned was Dwaynes DVD titled ‘Work, Spear, Play’ with possibly the best spearfishing DVD cover I have seen check the cover out here or even better watch the trailer here (it looks like a bloody good laugh!). We even discuss speargun size and rubbersetup. Dwaynes speargun preference is Beauchat. He has been using them since he was 10 or so and loves the handle, here is the Beauchat Marlin – if you choose to buy it, use the code NOOBSPEARO to save $20. Dwayne also covers off where you are likely to find Yellowtail Kingfish and how to plan your takedown.
For all your Spearfishing equipment needs go to www.spearfishing.com.au or visit their stores in Brisbane, Sydney and now – Melbourne.
www.spearfishing.com.au Noob Spearo Podcast
Big Birthday Sale on Now!
Use the code NOOBSPEARO to take advantage of this exclusive online deal. You get $20 off every purchase over $200, this is a discount code just for listeners of the Noob Spearo Podcast!
Check out Australia’s largest spearfishing range at Adreno Spearfishing Brisbane, Melbourne (just opened!) and Adreno Spearfishing Sydney or shop online
19:00 Spearfishing Scary Moment. Great White Encounter in 3m (10 ft) visibility down the bottom of the South Island, New Zealand.
25:00 Veterans Vault. Learning Spearfishing Hunting Techniques for Mastering a Species.
Dwayne gets started off with a good look at weed edge species in New Zealand beginning with the Boarfish. With so much time and experience in the water Dwayne has lots of insight and wisdom into spearfishing hunting techniques. Observation, learning the species habits and then learning which technique to apply to get close enough for a shot are part of the process he discusses.
“With hunting fish for competitions, you have to learn the environment, learn how the fish react and then how to target the different fish.”
[Tweet “”the number one thing you can do is just spend time in the water” – Dwayne Herbert”]
42:00 Funniest Moment
45:00 Whats in Dwaynes Divebag
A Sponsored Beuchat Diver, Dwayne has a good working knowledge of their range of equipment,
Beuchat Suits – here is the 2-pce RockSuit 7mm
Harness Weighting System with a thinker wetsuit
49:00 Fast 5 Facts 4 Noobs
Get a mask that fits
Use the right speargun for the job
Dont take shit shots
Dont dive hungover
Always dive with a mate
Dwayne Herbert with a Trumpeter caught Spearfishing
At the moment Dwayne and his dive buddy Julian are preparing for the spearfishing world championships in Greece, you can support their campaign here at GiveALittle
In this interview with Louie Van Senden we go deep into finding and hunting the Australian Mulloway or Jewfish. Mulloway are similar in some ways to the American White Sea Bass or South African Daga Salmon and can be found in shallow water and make a memorable spearfishing catch. Lots of Louie’s information comes from his experience viewing them unmolested in marine parks and spending some time researching and observing the behavior and habits of these fish. Listen into this interview to learn more about finding and hunting these fish.
Noob Spearo is stoked to bring this interview to you in partnership with Adreno
For all your Spearfishing equipment needs go to www.spearfishing.com.au or visit their stores in Brisbane and Sydney.
Use the code NOOBSPEARO to take advantage of this exclusive special.
You get $20 off every purchase over $200, this is a discount code just for listeners of the Noob Spearo Podcast!
Check out Australia’s largest spearfishing range at Adreno Spearfishing Brisbane and Adreno Spearfishing Sydney or shop online
Louie Van Senden also shares his 7S’s Diveday Checklist with us. This checklist helps him to never leave a fin at home!
Briefly they are;
Sink, weight belt
See, mask and snorkel
Stab, knife or knives
Stay Warm, wetsuit, booties and gloves
Survive, float (buoy) and floatline at a minimum
We also talk about fish behavior and Louie shares a story about making and deploying his first FAD (fish attracting/aggregating device). As usual this interview has its fair share of laughs and some stories that we can all learn from.
Louie Van Senden Spearfishing Downunder Magazine Cover Shot
About Louis Van Senden
He is a Western Australia based spearo who is one of the most widely published Australian spearfishing writers. I have been reading Louis’s articles for a long time. He has published articles in Spearfishing Downunder Magazine, International Freediving and Spearfishing News, FishLife magazine and more. He’s also spent some time abalone diving and I ask him a few questions about this experience as secretly I think many spearfisherman harbour desires to work full-time in the ocean. We also talk about his company drystore which specializes in selling outdoor waterproof bags and big cooler bags which come in handy for pelagics.
I have just recently purchased a 10L drybag as they are essential for keeping equipment dry while out spearfishing. I use mine for stuff like phones, cameras, car keys etc.
Louis continues to write good spearfishing articles at drystore and if you want to learn more about finding and hunting mulloway check out his article about that here
For fast navigation through Louie Van Senden’s interview, here are some major moments…
2:00 Early beginnings – spearfishing on flat days to keep up fitness for surfing
First buddy (Jack) and the competitive friendship that began spearfishing in Sydney
3:00 Yellowtail Kingfish vs Early Undersea Woodie that encouraged the switch to a South African style Rabitech Speargun
5:00 Home made FAD, early stories
9:00 Louie’s Favorite Spearfishing Hunting Technique – Watchers vs Swimmers
11:00 Scary moment, tidal waters and current – a must listen
17:00 Veterans Vault – Mulloway aka Jewfish, Finding and Hunting them
Tonnes of good advice, from the benefits of observing them in a marine sanctuary and studying their behavior through to the equipment that will help you get one home to put in the pan.
32:00 Funny moment, naked line fisherman
34:00 Whats in Louie’s Divebag – Head to toe, the regular equipment he’s using