SPEARFISHERMAN Tri Tran is passionate about sustainable fishing.
It’s one of the primary reasons why this week’s Fish of the Week winner took up the pursuit.
‘‘At heart I am a greenie,’’ Tri explained. ‘‘Spear fishing is a very sustainable and selective form of fishing.
‘‘Most days when you go out you might not come home with a fish; not because you can’t catch any, but because you choose not to. Catch what you need and leave it at that.’’
Having said that, the 26-kilogram kingfish he speared off Broughton last Friday goes down as a landmark catch in so many ways.
It was by far the biggest fish Tri has ever speared. It took a lot of skill to get it to the boat. And in terms of ‘‘supply’’, it was an incredibly efficient catch.
‘‘It fed a lot of people,’’ the electrical engineer at OneSteel said.
Certainly an interesting perspective on fishing from the 2011 Living Water Freedivers Cub champion.
Like most spearfishermen, Tri is an enthusiastic line angler too, but since moving to Newcastle from Brisbane eight years ago and hooking up with with the Newcastle-based club his passion has bloomed.
Freediving, as the name suggests, means you dive free of any assistance. That is, you hold your breath.
It’s illegal to use scuba gear when spearfishing.
Tri was diving off Broughton Island last weekend with his mates Bill Rule and Wayne Bissett, taking turns as per spearfishing protocol at spots like Broughton – two in the water, one in the boat.
‘‘We’d seen three or four kings around the 20-kilogram mark, just cruising around,’’ Tri explained. ‘‘There was a lot of bait about.
‘‘I spotted the one I caught from the surface and dropped down to about five metres’ depth and waited.
‘‘You don’t want to spook them, so you turn away and let them get interested enough to come round for a look. Then when they present close enough you have to make sure you get a good ‘hold’ shot.
‘‘If you hit too far up the body, the spear won’t go through and they will shake it off. So you have to be patient.’’
As Tri explained it, once you hit, you have to control the fish so it doesn’t fight too long.
As any line angler who has been smoked by a kingfish will tell you, they are very powerful and their first instinct is to head to the bottom, so the onus is on the spearo once they make the hold shot and the ‘‘flopper’’ has come into play, to keep the tension on the line so they (a) don’t lose their fish and (b) don’t lose their gear.
‘‘My heart was pounding at that stage as I’d been under the water for about 45seconds, so once I had the hold shot in, I headed up for a breath, always trying to keep the tension on,’’ Tri said.
‘‘When I got up, I asked my buddy Bill to put a second shot in a vital area, and then we quickly dispatched the fish to reduce suffering.’’
The Living Water Freedivers Club dives up and down the coast, holding regular monthly competitions as well as away events at Coffs Harbour and Hat Head.
When he’s not competing Tri loves nothing more than showing rookies the ropes.
‘‘The comps and trips are a good opportunity for guys to learn how to dive and see different fish,’’ Tri said.
‘‘One of the highlights of the calendar is the Nelson Bay Big Fish Challenge we hold each year which attracts spearos from around Australia.’’
Making fishy memories
LOCAL estuaries have been throwing up a lot of flathead, bream and whiting.
Three-year-old Hugh Thomas nabbed himself an 85-centimetre flathead at Nelson Bay while live baiting for kingfish with his father, Edgar.
Andrew Linton landed a ‘‘once in a lifetime’’ lizard in Newcastle Harbour while fishing with gun local angler Rob Irons.
Eight-year-old James Lole landed a 50-centimetre flathead at the Drop Over in Lake Macquarie.
Another eight-year-old, Liam Beazley, nailed a 3.94-kilogram, 78-centimetre lizard off Pulbah Island.
Six-year-old Miah Gay got three good-sized bream in the Lake.
Five-year-old Blake Jackson got a monster whiting off Speers Point.
Ashton Johansen, 3, hooked his first fish, a 35-centimetre bream, off Jimmys Beach at Hawks Nest.
And a big rap to Rick Martens who landed a 12-kilogram jew up near Hexham last Sunday.
‘‘My story is just me and the dog on a not-so-quiet Sunday afternoon,’’ Rick reported.
Check out all the fish mentioned online at theherald.com.au under ‘‘blogs’’ in the opinions section.
While you’re at it, register a vote for your fish of the week on the all-new poll.
Results will be collated and the people’s choice revealed in next week’s column.