Tag Archives: Spearfishing History in the 1960s

The first South Coast Spearfishing Championships

From Australian Skindivers Magazine April 1964

Wollongong Carnival of Sport Spearing Championships

A proud moment for Judy Sorrenson (Port Kembla) with her trophies.
A proud moment for Judy Sorrenson (Port Kembla) with her trophies.

The Port Kembla Club certainly turned on a well-organized competition on March 14, in conjunction with the City of Greater Wollongong’s 3rd Annual Carnival of Sport. This club showed many of the larger metropolitan clubs that when they said we would have an enjoyable day – they certainly meant it! And the prizes – wow! Never ever have the NSW Executive seen such a line-up of really valuable trophies. No silverware or tin cups but sensible (if not rather too expensive) products including Electric Frypans, TV Lamps, Tea Sets, Sherry Decanter & Glasses, Toasters, Record Players, etc. Over 100 pounds worth of goods all purchased (not donated) by the organizers – the Port Kembla Skindiving Club.

Unfortunately the water was not the clearest although John Black and Brian Raison from Sans Souci Club scored over 300 points each. Bill Lewis caught the heaviest fish (a 25 lbs. Blue Groper) and took home a valuable trophy – a box of pilsener glasses. Continue reading The first South Coast Spearfishing Championships

One that didn’t get away – Record Black Bream

ONE THAT DIDN’T GET AWAY

1969 13 July

Spear fisherman Michael Bray, of Johnson Street, Peakhurst, holds a 23in long black bream which he caught in Sydney Harbour off Shark Island.

Michael arrived for the Metropolitan Skin Divers’ Club  presentations with the catch last night.

Record Black Bream“Now they will have to believe me” he said, nursing the deep-frozen bream weighing 8lb 1oz (3.657kg) and with a girth of 20 inches.

He saw the fish while swimming with a friend, Mr Mervyn Sheehan, of Sans Souci, on Friday.

“We both fired together: my spear hit him in the side – my friend’s spear missed.”

Michael said he used a rubber-powered gun for the catch.

Michael, a sculpture student at the East Sydney Technical College belongs to the St. George Skin Divers’ Club.

He said he would eat all of the fish himself tomorrow. “I’m very fond of fish.” He said.

The publisher of “Anglers Digest” said last night that Mr Bray’s catch was almost certainly a record for a speared fish.

He said an 8lb 4oz black bream had been caught with a line at Swansea in 1967, but previously spearfishermen had not caught one anywhere near that weight.

From: Sun Herald Sun 13 July 1969 pg. 2

Results of an Unbiased Fishing Survey – 1966

1966 September

RESULTS of an UNBIASED FISHING SURVEY

An article by a very old friend of mine, Bill Barada, is based on the findings of a survey on the “Sport Fish Catch and Effort” made by the Resources Agency of the Department of Fish and Game of California. This comprehensive report by Daniel J. Miller and Daniel Gotshall, took four years to compile and concerned nineteen employees of the Department directly assigned to field duties on the project, apart from scores of persons acting in honorary capacities. This 135 page report, which I have read carefully, completely dispels any theory that skindivers could be held responsible for any overall depletion of fish stocks in the U.S.A. and there is nothing to suggest it would be otherwise in Australia.

Of all sport fishermen, anglers fishing from piers, jetties, etc., captured 1,034,000 fish representing 32.1% of the total sport catch. Shore fishermen, angling from beach, rock and estuary, contributed 31.9% of the total, while anglers operating from charter boats caught 24.9% and from small craft 10.5%. Skindivers or spearfishing, with all its so called efficiency, accounted for 0.7% of the total sports fish taken.

George Davies

From: Australian Skindivers Magazine September 1966 page 13.

Ban on Scuba Fishing in NSW

1969 27 June

The N.S.W. Government has banned the use of self – contained underwater breathing apparatus (Scuba gear) for spearfishing.

The Chief Secretary, Mr. E.A. Willis, said that the new regulations issued yesterday under the Fisheries and Oyster Farms act would make it an offence to take or attempt to take any fish except abalone while wearing the apparatus.

In effect the only breathing device that can be used is a snorkel.

Mr. Willis said the regulations had been recommended by the NSW Amateur Fishermen’s Advisory Council, and had been endorsed by the Underwater Skindivers and Fishermen’s Association.

The USFA of NSW Committee expects every affiliated club and member to respect and enforce this law, aimed at conservation, and report any breach of same.

From: Australian Skindivers Magazine July/August 1969

1st NSW Premier Club Competition

WATSONS BAY, OCTOBER 1967

In an effort to determine just which club was the best the Sans Souci Dolphins decided to organise a “Premier Club Competition”. An invitation was sent to Mid-South Marlins, top Southern Division Club, and Newcastle Neptunes, the best from the north. Both clubs readily accepted.

The rules were as follows – the top ten from each club fished, with one diver from each club in each boat. The scores from each diver were totalled for the club’s result.

Plenty of hard work by Bob Searl ensured that everything was right, except for the weather, but even the strong southerly and rough seas did not dampen enthusiasm and friendly rivalry. It was good to see the Dolphins able to supply the ten boats required, but special thanks go to John Stone and Barry Heywood for taking their boats out even though they did not fish in the competition.

Scores were low due to the dirty water, but they were sufficient to cause excitement in the weigh – in ring as, with only George Davies and Jack Jones to weigh in, only nine points separated the Neptunes and Dolphins. The final result put the Dolphins in front by 23 points.

S.S.D.

 

N.N

 

M.S.M

 

1.   J. Black

78

1.  G.Budden

93

1.   R. Montcalm

31

2.   L. Austin

103

2.   R. Hatch

133

2.   G. McCauley

64

3.   A. Badger

96

3.   F. Swinkles

96

3.   D. Tinsley

-

4.   J. Waples

133

4.   J. Merlo

31

4.   B. Pauling

29

5.   J. Jones

67

5.   A. Nunn

33

5.   S. Isles

111

6.   P. O’Connor

-

6.   P. Gibson

31

6.   N. Leibeck

-

7.   B. Raison

73

7.   L. Siemek

109

7.   D. Skelton

44

8.   R. Searl

-

8.   P. Wilkinson

46

8.   P. Rourke

-

9.   P. Britton

50

9.   K. Lewis

31

9.   D. Pepper

10

10. S. Harvey

60

10. G. Davies

36

10. D. Birch

12

TOTAL

662

TOTAL

639

TOTAL

301

The most meritorious fish was a Black Reef Leatherjacket weighing 2lb. 4oz., scoring 46 points by John Waples and the biggest fish was a Mulloway of 21lbs. caught by Phil Gibson.

It is intended to make this an annual event. It is hoped that the top club of each division will compete for the perpetual shield which has been donated by the Dolphins.

(From Australian Skindivers Magazine November 1967)

Skindiver Dies in Championships

1962 23rd April

Newcastle, Sunday – A young experienced skindiver was drowned when competing in the Pacific Coast Spearfishing Championships at Broughton Island, near Newcastle.

The man, Kevin O’Sheehy, 23, of Villawood, Sydney was a diabetic. A doctor who attended him said he could have died while in an insulin coma.

(Canberra Times 23/4/1962 pg. 1.)

The first Australian Pacific Coast Spearfishing Championships

APCC 1960Promoted and run by the Newcastle Neptunes Underwater Club, the first Australian Pacific Coast Spearfishing Championships was held at Shoal Bay, Port Stephens over the Easter Long Weekend from 15th to 18th April 1960.

Fridays programme featured a mystery trio spearfishing event during the afternoon and whilst this event was in progress judging took place for the photographic competition. Friday night featured an Open Air Theatre screening of the winning slides followed by a showing of the film “The Silent World”. Best underwater transparency was won by Walt Deas with a magnificent photo of a Giant Groper. The mystery trio event, which was a novelty competition designed to get everyone used to the three man team event was won by Russ Smith, Newcastle Neptunes; J. Wynne, Canterbury Underwater Club, and G. Mathews, Western Sub-Mariners.

On Saturday 16th the Pat Helsham Trophy for the Premier Club of the Australian Pacific Coast was contested from 8am to 4pm. This competition was decided on the aggregate scores of the top eight competitors from each club. Most competitors fished Broughton Island but others fished as far south as Rocky Point. The day proved quite eventful and quite a few competitors encountered sharks.

The Neptunes became the Premier Club with a score of 4,268 points. Runner up club was St. George Sea Dragons with 3,440 points, followed by North Shore Sea Hawks with 2,551 points.

Just over 160 competitors signed-on and were limited to one fish of each species. Top scorers for the day were Allan Whitford, Newcastle Neptunes; Dave Rowlings, St. George and George Davies, Newcastle Neptunes, each with more than 20 varieties of fish.

A Cabaret was held at Shoal Bay Country Club on Saturday night with most competitors retiring early in preparation for the teams event the following day.

The sun shone brightly once again on Sunday and competitors were on their way at 8am sharp. Thousands of spectators crowded the control centre area as competitors raced back to deposit their fish in the weigh-in area by 4pm. The Premier 3 Man Team Trophy was won by Bill Lewis, Jack Evans and Jim Harper, all from ST. George Club with 1,566 points followed by the Sans Souci Dolphins team comprising Johnny Black, Brian Raison and J. Lock with 1,245 points.

Trophies were presented at the Country Club Hotel in the evening and a representative from Belmont Apex Club was presented with a cheque for seventy seven pounds, ten shillings and six pence, being the proceeds from the fish auctions held over the three days.

The closing competition held on Monday from 7am to 11am brought in some really good fish. The winner of the most meritorious fish prize was George Schulz of Newcastle Neptunes with a 66lb. 8oz. Kingfish.
The final days trophies were presented to the winners and so ended the first Australian Pacific Coast Spearfishing Championships.

Victoria vs New South Wales – Interstate Spearfishing Competition

Vic Ver NSW R.MontcalmAfter nearly 10 months of planning, the first official Victoria versus New South Wales Interstate Spearfishing Competition took place at Eden on the Far South Coast of New South Wales over the Queen’s Birthday weekend in June of 1967.

Over 200 skindivers and their families from as far away as Avoca and Warrnambool in the Western Districts of Victoria and Canberra and Sydney arrived at Eden for the weekend.

Most of Saturday was spent looking over the fishing areas and preparing for the big competition.

On the Saturday night at Eden’s “Hotel Australasia” had never had such a packed beer garden in its history and I think that also went for the Hotel Eden and the Eden Fishermen’s Club.

Ross Page, of Port Hacking, Sydney, was on the loudspeaker bright and early on Sunday morning and pretty soon the camping ground was a hive of activity. Just before the word “go” was given at 8:30 a.m., we noted the sign on was 198 competitors, one of the best sign-ons for a spearfishing competition for the last couple of years. And, just to make it an extra-successful weekend, two late sign-ons brought the total to 200.

At 8:30 a.m. sharp 200 skindivers raced to boats moored off the beach and to cars and were soon scattered over 60 miles of coastline.

At 2:30 began the massive task of weighing-in nearly 3,000lb. of fish. With two weigh-in areas going flat out this was not completed till 6:30 p.m. that night.

While this was going on the organisers were also flat out working out scores and allotting the 60-70 separate prizes.

On the Sunday night we had hired the Eden picture theatre and with two of Ron Taylor’s top underwater movies were due to start at 8:00 p.m. with the presentation of prizes at interval.

The films got underway around 8:30 and once again the old town was in for a shock. Nearly 300 people packed into the theatre and by 9:00 there was standing room only.

At interval the presentation of prizes got underway and it was noted that the individual winners all had fantastic scores. Open: Robin Montcalm, 663; Junior: Rick Baker, 605; Ladies: Robyn Page, 342.

Highlights of the evening were the announcement of The Most Meritorious Fish Overall with the prize of a “Tudor Oster U/W Watch”, donated by Angus & Coote of Sydney, and the drawing of the lucky sign-on number for which the prize was a “Nikonos U/W Camera”, donated by Maxwell Photo-Optics of Melbourne and Sydney. These prizes went to Doug Trinder of Mid-South Marlins and Allan Potter of Port Hacking Penguins in that order.

After the presentation of prizes, we all settled back to the second half of the programme.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank every skindiver who travelled to Eden to compete in the competition, plus everyone who helped with the organising, plus all the generous companies and people who donated the $1,000 worth of prizes.

Report by Barry Andrewartha (Marauders Club, Victoria), Australian Skindivers Magazine July, 1967 Pg.17

The “Aquamatic” an Historic Australian Speargun from the 1940’s

Aquamatic DiagramAquamatic DiagramThe brothers, George and Trevor Davies, pioneered spearfishing in the Newcastle area taking up the sport in 1946. They were certainly talented and inventive. They made facemasks from car tyre inner tubes, started the Newcastle Neptune’s Spearfishing Club, made one of Australia’s first Scuba sets and designed the Aquamatic speargun.

On new years eve of 1960 Trevor was killed in a tragic accident when, whilst filling a cylinder with air, a water trap on the compressor exploded, spraying jagged fragments of metal over a wide area.

Trevor was the inventor and designer, George the engineer. They experimented with several speargun designs and during 1948 the design principles of the Aquamatic were conceived by Trevor and then further refined by George during the next five years.

Over this period every spare minute of the brother’s spare time was put to use with exhaustively testing and refining the gun, experimenting with it until George was satisfied, proclaiming “This speargun is, without fear of contradiction, the most powerful in the world”.

The first Aquamatics produced had a two inch diameter cylinder with a one inch bore and when charged to 359 PSI of pressure contained 45 cubic inches of compressed air. Later the cylinder was changed to one made of stainless steel, one inch in diameter with a one half inch bore. This cylinder, when fully compressed by the spear contained about 1800 PSI.

The gun has an overall length of twenty two inches, with the barrel extending eighteen inches behind the handle. The gun’s barrel was made to take any one of three spear shaft sizes of either five sixteenths of an inch, three eighths of an inch or seven sixteenths of an inch in diameter. Spears were usually 54 inches (four and one half feet) long with 23 loading notches.

To load the gun the trigger is depressed and the spear, with notches facing upward, is pushed into the barrel until it contacts the piston. The lever is then raised and lowered with a pawl engaging the notches and using a ratchet action forces the spear into the cylinder.

The nose of the aquamatic has a line discharge attachment clamped to it. The line is attached to the spear and wound around the rear movable arm and forward to the fixed arm. This is repeated several times with the other end of the line terminating at a reel.

The air in the cylinder lasts indefinitely. The gun has been used continuously for twelve months without any loss of pressure. When fired there is no explosion underwater and no discharge of bubbles as in a CO2 gun. It has tremendous power, propelling a spear for 350 ft out of the water. Its spear, with the head removed, can penetrate two inches of seasoned hardwood.

George considered the main essentials for a speargun were power, accuracy, manoeuvrability, balance, reliability and durability and believed the Aquamatic encompassed all of these traits.

Fifty to sixty Aquamatics were made, with most being sold in and around the Newcastle area. Dick Charles, the founder of the USFA bought one and one was sent to America, however it was never paid for, the purchaser denying ever receiving it. Later a similar gun was produced and sold in the USA as the “Airmatic”.