The Dampier spearfishing classic was organised by the WA Undersea club and sponsored by GT Diving, Our Exmouth House and Rob Torelli Down Under. We aim to foster a competitive spirit between spearos and promote the virtues of selective hunting. The competition lasted 11 hours but there was months of work for the organisers. The process of putting together a competition isn’t easy, it takes a committed team with large amounts of energy to do all the background tasks required to put on such an event.

Our day started by waking up before dawn, the excitement built as we spoke of plans and tactics for the day, we loaded gear, prizes, weigh in equipment and laptops. As we made the quick drive to sign on it looked like the weather gods were smiling on us! Low winds and cool conditions saw the crowds start to roll in and competition started in earnest. Heavily advertised the WAUC’s first spearfishing competition in Dampier had an outstanding turnout! We had 31 pairs of eager spearo’s signing in on the day and 40 new members joining on the morning of the competition to the WAUC family. This amount of interest from Dampier spearo’s massively exceeding WAUC’s expectations and thus, leaving the organisers with a stack of paperwork to complete!

As the buzzer sounded the competition started, the fleet departed. Many chose to go via land to their spearing grounds, however, our boat started the long run in search for clean water westward. We arrived at our first spot and immediately see a large school of Golden Trevally and Queenfish came up behind the boat, then everyone scrambles for gear jumping into a milky 20m viz. The flashers go over the side with a cry of “Red Emperor” goes out. Darren and I both dive to 20m, Darren got a nice shot on the Red. I had the tough choice between a Trout, Bluebone and Emperor. I surface with a nice Black Snapper – the perfect start to the day. Both diving pairs start burley trails which leads to our main problem of the day, sharks. Whilst the reef we chose was clean, it also seemed to be a favourite for big Bull sharks and Bronzies. A few good macks are lost before we decide its time to hit the shallows.

We rock into the shallows, the skipper putting us on a shallow coral/bombie field in 5-6m, a quick burley trail brings out some more Trout and some of the best Blackspot Tuskfish I’ve seen. We quickly shoot a few 7-8kg species for dinner before the current pushes us down the burley trail looking for big Jacks, a few 4-5kg models are seen but none of the bigger ones wanted to come into range. I eventually spotted a large Longnose Emperor on the edge of vis and spend the next 30 minutes trying to win a meritorious fish, these are great fish to hunt and stalk.

Fast forward to weigh in, we were greeted by a crowd of some 100 spearos and on lookers, Karl and Blake immediately get onto the BBQ. Darren, Graham and myself start the long process of weigh in while Caleb the token club Photographer started doing the rounds getting some photos of the competitors. Unfortunately my laptop decided it wanted to join in the diving and went for a swim, lucky the phone was a worthy backup. 24 pairs decided to weigh-in at the end of the days diving. I was excited to see what came in. The eskies were comprised of Trout, Mangrove Jacks, Bluebone, Spanish Mackerel and Cobia seemed to be the flavour of the day.

Eventual winners Mark Pascot and Brian Myers took an early lead and hang on to it to win the competition with 7 species and their Estuary Cod taking full points, essentially giving them 8 species. The rest of the field was fairly close with 2nd and 3rd weighing-in in 7 species and 11 pairs weighing in 5 or 6 species meaning 4th and 5th were hotly contested. A couple of disqualifications of good divers occurred due to not being back on the beach for weigh in on time opened up the field. Honourable mentions go to the two Triple tails, two Red Emperors, two Black snappers and one nice Flathead. Also, the fantastic new junior members who landed fish comparable to our senior divers, we definitely will be adding a junior prize category to future competitions in Dampier.

Congratulations to our winners:

• 1st Mark Pascot and Brian Myers
• 2nd Justin Oleary and Raymond Kaestner
• 3rd Karl Reece and Bryce Hollins
• 4th Graham Gould and Wally Galli
• 5th Terry Howe and Eli Oliveros
• Mystery Prizes: Richie Chapman and Ryan

A big thank you to our sponsors: GT Diving, Our Exmouth house, Rob Torelli Down Under – without our sponsors these competition wouldn’t be possible!

A special thanks to our support staff Ben Coy, Joe Petrovich, Graham Gould, Darren Aitken, Karl Reece, Caleb Moore for their tireless efforts behind the scenes, at weigh in and cooking the BBQ. Blake Caddy and Dave Price for the many hours on the phone and looking after all the Perth boys so well.

And finally a big thankyou to our new members and existing members of the WA Undersea Club who entered the first WAUC Dampier competition. WAUC are already planning some new events in the not too distant future for our new North West members and some certified club scales are on the way for our members to use. It was great to meet you all, thank you for your good humour whilst I ran my first event. Please join the new WAUC Pilbara Facebook group and once your membership email comes through join WAUC Gold for the latest member only updates.

If you would like to help out with future WAUC events or even sponsor the WAUC or an event don’t hesitate to contact me.

Regards

Chris Barnes
WAUC Secretary and Sponsorship officer