Tag Archives: Spearfishing History in the 1940s

Spear Fishing – Cairns Post – 1940

Spear Fishing

1940       13 May

Spear Fishing is rapidly becoming a leading sport amongst the youth of Innisfail. The spear employed, unlike the four-pointed spear used by the aborigines, consists of a length of iron with a sharp barb at one end. The swimmers, who wear water glasses, enters the water and submerges to await the fish. When a fish comes near the end of the spear the swimmer makes a jab, and if successful, immediately raises the point to prevent the fish from escaping.

From: Cairns Post 13 may 1940, pg. 6

Angles on Angling

Angles on Angling

1947       9th May

24 years old Alf Rowen, who conducts a bootmaking establishment in Crown Street Wollongong, has a natty fish catching device.

None of this old-fashioned sinker and line business for Alf – he has a “sear-gun” that fires a 4ft. 6in. stainless steel shaft UNDERWATER!

He dons goggles and a lead – weighted belt (to keep him steady on the sea floor), shoulders his “spear-gun,” takes a deep breath and dives into the depths.

Usually, Alf hides himself under a ledge, or in a hole, and lays in wait for some large, unsuspecting fish.

He claims he never worries about the small ones and during Easter, at Sussex Inlet, the average weight of 80 fish caught was 1 3/4 to 2lbs.

Alf will be ‘shooting’ them on Sunday morning between eight and eleven o’clock, just off the Wollongong Continental Baths.

DAVID HENWOOD

From:   Illawarra Mercury Friday 9 May 1947 pg.1

The Underwater Spearfishermans Association N.S.W. First Annual Picnic

SUNDAY 21 ST NOVEMBER, 1948

To be held at
Malabar Beach.

Events for the day Starting at 11.a.m.

No. 1 First Fish.
No. 2 Breath Holding Contest
No. 3 Underwater Target Shoot.

Lunch Adjournment

No. 4 Two hour Fishing Contest, for the greatest weight of Fish (other than Sharks and Sting Rays).

Prizes

1. For the Best Fish of the Day.
2. Largest Fish.
3. Best Bream.
4. Best Black Fish.
5. Best Groper.

A major marine disturbance

1948 9th October

Yesterday’s piece about the feud between Manly’s rod fishermen and fish – spearers reveals much more than a mere ruffle on the angling waters. The feud shows signs of developing into a major marine disturbance.

The Amateur Fishermen’s Association has already hooked spearmen out of Tuggerah Lakes, Port Hacking and Wallis Lake, near Forster; now seeks to cast a wide and fine – meshed net to drag them out of metropolitan waters.

Neither side has much hope that a compromise plan – no spearing within 50 yards of an angler – will work out.

The anglers reckon that even at 50 yards the spearmen will scare the fish off. And that doesn’t take into account the apoplexy that the mere sight of a spearman tends to engender in their normally placid bloodstreams.

Each force has closed its ranks. Spearmen are busy organising themselves to stave off threats to their freedom; lobbyists from both camps are already employed trying to manoeuvre the political machinery their way. Trouble is there’s no provision for or against spearing in the Acts governing methods of fish capture.

Hasn’t been so much tension in Izaak Walton’s business since the introduction of the barbed hook.

From: The Sun 9/10/1948

Spearing is winter sport for surf men

1946 1st July

SPEARING FISH IS WINTER SPORT FOR SURF MEN

Fish – spearing is the latest craze among Coogee Surf Club members.
Even these cold mornings young Don Millar is in and under the water at daybreak, spearing fish for breakfast.

Millar yesterday was proclaimed champion of Coogee Surf club when he speared three fish (two morwong and a sergeant baker) in almost as many minutes.

1946 Spearing Fish is Winter Sport.Armed with spear gun, goggles and a lead belt that takes him to the sea bed, Millar always gets a catch.
He lies on the bottom to catch flathead and sergeant baker, and swims about to spear morwong and blackfish.
He dives from the rocks and swims out to about 25 feet of water.
He is not worried about sharks as he thinks they go to warmer water in the winter.

KNEW HIS FISH
Millar is getting to know his fish.
Every morning a 40 lb. drummer watches him at work.
Millar never takes a shot at him, as he is too strong and might swim off with his spear.
“Morwong and blackfish are the most curious fish”, said Millar.
“They will sit and take a look and will often swim up to me to see what is going on”.
Millar says under – water swimming gives him wonderful breath – control which he thinks will improve his swimming next season.
The spear gun is made of wood with brass fittings. It carries a long stainless unattached steel spear.
The spear is launched by a thick elastic band fired by a trigger.

From: Sydney Sun 6/7/46

Man Spears Tiger Shark Underwater

The first spearfishing competition and Jach Egan with the first Trophy awarded to a Spearfisher. - Mel Brown

Underwater fisherman Jack Egan, of Potts Point, yesterday speared a six-foot tiger shark in 10 feet of water at La Perouse beach.

The President Dick Charles Trophy The Underwater Fishermans Assoc of NSW For the best fish of the day 17 Oct 1948 won by Jack Egan
The President
Dick Charles Trophy
The Underwater Fishermans Assoc of NSW
For the best fish of the day 17 Oct 1948
won by Jack Egan

Egan was one of a party of 20 members of the Underwater Spearfishermen's Association of N.S.W. which had dived into the sea of the rocks at the northern end of La Perouse Bay in search of prey.

All the fishermen wore swimming trunks and carried sling spearguns.

Two hundred yards from the rocks Egan submerged and swam slowly above the sea bed. “Through the water, I saw the tiger cruising along the bottom,” he said later.

“He was a nasty brute.”

Egan aimed his gun at the shark and fired. The spear , with a line attached, pierced the
shark behind the gills.

Jack Egan
Jack Egan

Egan swam to the surface and called to two other speannen who were swimming nearby. One of them, Les Gleeson, swam over to Egan and helped him pull the shark towards the shore.

“The tiger was threshing the water as we got close to the rocks,” said Gleeson.

“We hauled him up on the rocks and finished him off.”

Gleeson, a committee member of the association, said a cup was to be awarded for the largest game speared during the day.

“Jack Egan will certainly get that cup,” he said. “He is the first member of the association to spear a shark.”

From: News report Sunday 21“ November 1948

Aquacades 1949

Aquacades 1949 letter with Bill Heffernan (left) & possibly George Sheen (right)
Aquacades 1949 letter with Bill Heffernan (left) & possibly George Sheen (right)

Sydney will have its first close — up public View of those intrepid sportsmen, the spear— fishermen, at tonight’s premier in North Sydney Olympic Pool of the Aquacades of 1949. They’ll use a variety of equipment, including the famous Salvus outfit which was used by Allied Navy personnel in the recent hostilities for attaching mines to the hulls of enemy ships.

Three different types of spear — guns will be used (range  underwater 40ft.).

One of the experts who’ll be demonstrating tonight is sportsman Bill Heffernan, of Tuggerah, who averages a meagre 451b. of fish daily! The other day before he came down to rehearse for the aquacades he took his gun and nabbed a l6lb. flathead in six feet of water.

The Salvus outfit, incidentally, is being bought up fairly extensively by councils for jobs ranging from harbour diving to the cleaning of swimming pools. It allows the wearer to remain under water at a depth of 30 feet for up to 40 minutes. It’s operated by oxygen bottles strapped beneath the arms.

Sunday 12th January 1949