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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fishing by spears is an ancient method, but they’ve really brought it up to date in the last few years, with the use of guns to propel the spears.
So much so that underwater fishing is now in the organised sport class, with a rapidly growing list of followers and a stiffening opposition from the orthodox rod and line anglers, who regard the practice as unsportsmanlike.
The Underwater Spearfishing Association of N.S.W., formed last summer, now conducts regular outings.
Equipment for the sport varies. The most popular consists of a gun, spear, diving mask, and a weighted belt, at a total cost of about five pounds. Other outfits are more complicated – and expensive.
The most widely used gun has a barrel about nine inches long, to which is attached a strong rubber band in the form of a loop, and a shoulder piece to steady the gun. The spear, of quarter-inch stainless steel, has two moveable barbs. The top barb opens at right-angles after the fish has been speared, to prevent it slipping off the end. The lower barb opens if the fish slips down the spear.
The rubber mask has a glass oval front, and covers the eyes and nose but leaves the mouth free for breathing.
The webbing belt has about 5lb. lead attached to steady the spearfisher against currents and to enable him to get to the bottom quickly.
Many followers of this popular sport are concerned that as a result of the general hostility and organised protests by line fishermen, the Fisheries Department may be obliged to add to the restrictions already existing at Tuggerah Lakes and at other places.
A recent deputation of speargunners to that Department at which it was disclosed that a Speargun Association was contemplated was favourably received and it could be inferred there might be some official recognition of our interests.
It has been arranged to hold an informal meeting of all interested in the formation of an Association at Long Reef, Collaroy, at 2.30 p.m. on Sunday, April 4th. Please invite every speargunner known to you to attend and incidentally to bring his gear as there is plenty of room and fish and the tide will be O.K.
The rendezvous will be in front of the Long Reef Golf Club House premises. We shall be glad to learn of your intention to attend or otherwise.