The anticipation was growing as participants of the educational group started arriving from Victorian, New South Wales and Queensland into the sleepy regional port of Gladstone. Weather had been on everyone’s mind, but not talked about for fear of thinking we could somehow jinx things. East Coast lows had riddled the region over the months in the lead up, so the chances of inclement conditions seemed likely. The forecast looked promising, but scepticism remained, especially amongst those local to the region.
To our great surprise once out and about in Gladstone, the weather was calm, clear and simply spectacular. Our mother ship for the week long journey was Eastern Voyager. We loaded her up with everyone’s personal gear and some exclusive new items from Ocean Hunter, Rob Allen and Salvimar for trial over the week ahead. Establishing sleeping arrangements and proceeding to work through the biggest pile of prawns known to man was next on the agenda, whist we waited for the final retailers to arrive and for the crew to finish all departure preparations. All that was in front of us were some safety briefings, an introductions to the diving plans for the week ahead and a relaxing steam out overnight. A nice dinner was provided on-board as we all gathered our see legs and commenced diving gear preparations for our first tilt at the amazing Swains Reef system next day.
With a mixture of experience across the group, from “never fired a speargun” to “big pelagic advanced” we set appropriate groups, organised the Dory’s and set off explore some incredible parts of middle Swains Reef. Some really nice fish were taken during every session and the new divers were simply amazed at the amount of life these amazing reef systems hold. During the first in-water sessions, light winds, sunshine, warm water and great visibility were the order of the day and remarkably ended up the flavour of the week for the entire trip. Diving confidence and comfort levels grew with each passing session and soon, new and experienced divers alike were into the grove, diving safely as teams and landing high quality fish time after time.
Throughout the week, the highly qualified team from Spearfishing Australia imparted knowledge around specific products, varied rigging techniques, target species hunting techniques along with critically important safe spearfishing practices. Packed full of knowledge and practical learning for the owners and key shop staff, the educational programs are designed specifically to filter through at the store level, offering the best customer experience in store to end users.
As the days rolled on, Eastern Voyager moved further towards the untouched outer Swains Reef systems. Even clearer water, amazing structure and an incredible array of fish species appeared with every new system and location we explored. Many personal bests, first time catches came aboard with species such as, Spanish Mackerel, Dog Tooth Tuna, Job Fish, Red Emperor, Purple Cod, Coral Trout, Spangled & Red Throat Emperor all making it back into the skilled filleting hands of the Eastern Voyager team. All fish caught were filleted fresh, snap frozen and divide evenly amongst some very happy participants. That is aside from the fresh sashimi served at the end of each day as a starter before dinner!
The saying time fly’s when you are having fun can not be truer than when you are out at sea Spearfishing all day, going to bed early and doing it all again the next day. Things came to an end quicker that we’d have liked, but an incredible time was had by all, with talk of the next trip taking up much of the motor back to port. That was in between some terrible singing and air guitar techniques from a rowdy few on the journey home.
A huge thank you to the team aboard Eastern Voyager, who made it all possible with their incredible vessel and knowledge of the Reef and to Bjorn and Neil from Spearfishing Australia who managed all diving and educational logistics.
A big shout out to the following Spearfishing Australia Partner Stores who crushed it all week:
Feet First Dive – Nelson Bay – https://feetfirstdive.com.au/
Fergos Tackleworld – Tarren Point – www.fergostackleworld.com.au
Fergos Tackleworld – Warrawong – www.fergostackleworld.com.au
Adreno – Sydney – www.spearfishing.com.au
Sunreef Diving – Mooloolaba – www.sunreef.com.au
Tackleworld – Noosa – www.davostackle.com.au
PGF Tackle & Spearfishing – Rye – https://www.facebook.com/PGFTACKLE