Early start early finish.
D Stick came around Friday night and dropped off some shark shields to take down to Ockys Water World. He wasn’t going in the comp. The irony of entrusting me with 5 of them wasn’t lost on him. He almost asked for a receipt. I hadn’t dived the Bunbury area nor the stretch of coast to Hamelin Bay near Augusta. With his advice I mapped out a plan dependant on the conditions for the day.
I knew the ground around Bunbury was fairly bare and there were 2 shallow(< 15m) divers on my boat so that ruled out the deeper parts. Naturaliste reef and the Bouvards are 40kms to the west and north respectively but the forecast was for a strong sou wester to come in midday. I hadn't dived around Yallingup but knew there was more ground and more species. The drawback was the hour drive each way from Ocky's shop plus kitting up and down. It left us about 4 hours of boating time. The closest ramp was Quindalup near Eagle Bay but Dave advised that Canal Rocks although further south was the same distance by road and closer to Sugarloaf Rock by boat, with all that ground in between. So, up at 3:30am and drive to the shop for sign-on. Gotta love those early starts. Not. Ben was good company and at the shop Ocky and crew had the bacon, eggs and toast going strong. No espresso, something to work on for next year. Twelve pairs signed on and the comp got underway at 7:00am. With Tania and Dale in the car we arrived at Canals and launched at 8:30. Went past indicators, saw a boat there and made a mental note to dive it on the way back. First stop after sounding a lot of ground yielded a Foxfish and Harlequin in 15 metre viz. Ben munted his shaft on a 25+kg Sambo. The ground was mainly kelp covered limestone to 19 metres with the very occasional clean rock. I saw one hole with 2 just size Dhuies and other fish. Second stop was a pinnacle near Sugarloaf which came up out of 24 metres of water to 10 metres. I immediately thought of Kingfish and Mackeral. Half an hour later and Ben shot a Sambo. The rock had small sea sweep and one tiny Dhuie on the bottom. By now it was eleven fifteen and the next dive would be the last. I sounded the 10kms back to the ramp but nothing leaped up. Our last dive would be Indicators. I saw a school of buff in the shallows and went searching for a dropoff. After a few dives I was in 25metres of water. Diving to 15 a Mackeral scoots past my right side. I stop, avoid eye contact. He turns. I am at 20 and shoot him from below. It’s a good shot and is gutted and gilled within 4 minutes. Quarter past twelve and we must leave now to make sign off by 2:00pm at Ocky’s. We get back with barely minutes. Some people were loud, some coy and some standing back with their own ideas. The sauce was flowing and by now the fish had been presented and bums accommodated in plastic chairs. Sausages, potatoes, quiche, pasta salad and chicken. The catering was great. But it’s not the food everyone had turned up for. It was the fish. Seven pairs weighed and highlights were Mike’s Long Snout Boarfish and my Mackeral of course. Surprisingly there were no other Spanish shot or seen. Being on Ocky’s boat and with Shane’s local knowledge, Jack and Zoran were red hot favourites. Graham went towards the Bouvards but said the ground was good but the fish weren’t home. He did manage a nice Swallowtail. Deacon and Adrian had a day off and weighed a Skippy. Nick E managed a nice King George. With seven new members on the day!! I am sure to put names to faces for future gatherings. It was a great turnout and having our own private weigh-in place with plenty of shade gave it a relaxed atmosphere.
With civilities out of the way it came down to the results:
1st Place – Ben and Joe with 5 species and 838 points
2nd Place – Jack and Zoran with 4 species and 712 points
3rd Place – Graham and Chris with 3 species and 590 points
4th Place – John and Mike with 1 fish and 220 points
5th Place – Nick and Rudi with 1 fish and 180 points
6th Place – Luke and Mike with 1 fish and 161 points
7th Place – Deacon and Adrian with 1 fish and 129 points
Individual fish nominated by Ocky for a prize.
Nick E for his King George Whiting of 0.80 kgs
Jack with a 1.2 kg Silver Trevally
Swedish Mike with a 1.2 kg Long Snout Boarfish.
There was some discussion about start and finish times for next year. The venue is fantastic but the ground around Bunbury is not. Extending the length or/and having a previous day sign on would expand the diveable horizon and lead to more and different fish weighed.
Last and most importantly the people who helped out:
Ocky with prizes, food, organizing and venue
Tania with weighing
Graham with organizing
Dale with scoring
Danielle with food and organizing
Shane with sign-ons
Joe with scoring
I am sure there were others, to those people, Thank you.
And also to everyone who turned up on the day and gave the place a convivial atmosphere, Thank you.