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Species Guides

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.


Deeper Blue Hypoxyphiliac
Oct 24, 2002
I was thinking the other day that it would be great if there was a central location where we could find tips and techniques for spearing certain types of fish in certain areas - a set of guides for a particular species. This way, when we all travel to new locations, or even in our current ones, we can all have a few new tricks up our sleeves. Obviously, any nudge nudge wink wink secrets that you want to keep won't be held against you, but if everyone submitted some of these, we could have a really good reference.

One possible format of this could be as follows

1. Scientific name:
2. Common names:
3. Location targeted:
4: Typical habitat:
5. General techniques:
6: Other comments:

I'll post a few, and let me know if you think it's a good idea/bad idea.


1. Scientific name: Acanthopagrus australis

2. Common names: Bream, don't think I've heard anyone call it anything else

3. Location targeted: South east coast of Australia

4: Typical habitat: Bream can be found swimming in schools pretty much everywhere. A good spot to look is at the ends of beaches that have small piles of rocks, and also at the mouth of creeks and rivers or near oyster beds.

5. General techniques: I usually find bream are very inquisitive, and are not too easily spooked - however saying this, the best method I have found is to just lie on the bottom and wait.

6: Other comments: Bream generally travel in schools, so occassionally it may be worth waiting for the big one of a school to pass by before shooting. One other good place to look is anywhere the waves make whitewash with the ocean, like on a slightly submerged bommie.
Red Mowong

1. Scientific name: Acanthopagrus australis

2. Common names: Re morwong, mowies

3. Location targeted: South east coast of Australia

4: Typical habitat: Red morwong prefer reefy areas, and can be found on many shore dives. The best place to look is in amongst rocky outcroppings

5. General techniques: Red morwong again are very inquisitive and fairly easy to spear - just lie down on the bottom and they'll come over and say hi.

6: Other comments: Mowies are very terrotorial, and so often if spooked, they'll return to where they were after a while. The downside to this is that if a particular area is too heavily fished, it takes a while for morwong numbers to come back on the up.
Addendum to Red Morwong

Apologies - the scientific name for Red Morwong is Cheilodactylus fuscus, not Acanthopagrus australis as posted
Nice one , Loopy ...:D
Perhaps we can ask the moderators to move it to hunting .
I tried a similar thread "spearfishing techniques"
page 10 in hunting and got one response ...:(
Good luck .
Good point...

Yeah, good point Abri, wasn't sure if it was 'hunting' or 'techniques'... could one of the moderators please move this?

At the very least, I'll just keep adding some myself, hopfully someone gets something out of it :)

No sooner said than done . Thanks to our administrators ...:king
Is there any way of adding my previous meager efforts to this thread ?

Good idea fuzz! I think it might be an idea to keep a copy here too, because that way it's in front of you all the time, and everyone who will write 'one day' won't forget :)

Just gotta nick off and see the boss for a bit, and I'll post some more when I get back... incidently, if anyone has a specific fish in a specific location that they want to learn how to hunt, post it up here as well. Personally I wouldn't mind learning the finer art of spearing jewies on the NSW south coast... cause I've been tryng for ever and I can never find them :(

Dusky Flathead

1. Scientific name: Platycephalus fuscus
2. Common names: Dusky flathead, duskies, flatties
3. Location targeted: South east coast of Australia
4: Typical habitat: Flathead lie on the bottom, waiting in ambush. Their camoflauge is pretty good, so you generally won't see them until you spook them. The best place I've found to look is in sand patches on the edge of some reef.
5. General techniques: Flatties can actually be pretty easy to catch once you know how. Find yourself a big long beach with rocks at either end, and dive on the edge of that reef. If you don't notice them, you'll probably scare yourself when they swim out from underneath you. I've generally found that they won't swim too far away, and will go back down onto the bottom.
6: Other comments: Another technique I've tried is getting a small chrome fishing lure, minus the hooks, and tying it onto a bit of string on your gun, so it danggles near the ground. This either hits the flattie, scares it, or it sees it as potential food and takes a bite. I've speared flathead up to 95cm with this technique, but take note, it wasn't until afterwards that I realised that all flathead over about 80cm are females, and should probably be left alone to breed.

Good one!

Thanks for the referal to your early efforts Abri incl riaan's input. it made for very interesting reading and deserves more attention.
East Coast Rock Lobster (South Africa)

I guess this is still interesting for feedivers and is the only target that i feel i have enough experience to talk about.

1. Scientific name: dont know yet
2. Common names: east coast rock lobster, crayfish
3. description: spiny lobser, with two prominant horns on the head, just over the eyes. colour ranges from orangy, through red to almost brown, depending on shell age. eletric blue line laterally along the carapace. two prominant feelers, with two smaller two prong feelers with black and white stripes.
4. Location targeted: east coast of south africa
5. Typical habitat: hides in holes/cracks/caves on the inshore reefs from 0.01m to 20m+
6. Legislation. A recreational crayfishing licence is required. cost R60. min size 65mm from between horns to end of carapace. no crays to be taken in berry (eggs under their tails, you cant miss it) or with soft shells. closed season 31 Oct to last day of Feb. Daily bag limit 8. can only be caught on breath-hold, not off a boat and only using goved hands, ie not tickle sticks. even torches can land you in trouble. :naughty
9. Techniques: the best luck is had the reefs past backline because of the overfishing of the very shallow reefs (not everyone can freedive to 30 ft). snoop around the reefs, looking out for the feelers. often the crays hole up in groups, so finding one gets you a few. they always face outwards so grab the cray, ignoring the pain as the horns tear through your glove like its not there :blackeye . dont pull the feelers otherwise they detatch but pulling the very base of the feeler is a good idea. if the cray is sitting tight, gently wriggle it out. if he ducks down a deep hole, have a look inside before sticking your arm down. eels and crays often hole up together :crutch . if the cray is out in the open, try to grab their carapace, if they split, and they can swim very fast, chase them as they only swim about 5m at a time, allowing you a second chance. if their hole is big enough, chase them using your one hand, backward into the other. this guarentees a catch. if you hit a hole with a lot of crays, some try to duck out a back way, so check around the hole now and then.
8. Other comments: females in berry are usually grouped together, so if you catch a couple in berry then they are probably all in berry and so move on. the biggest crays are big because they have avoided divers for 10 yrs and are good at it, so be prepared for a challenge. when there is bad viz, the crays walk around in the open and are easy to catch. the females have bigger tails than the males :mute
9. Favorite means of consumption. soak them in fresh water to kill them. twist the tails off, take cut off the selophane looking skin on the underside of the tail, and remove the poo-pipe. Baste them with lemon, garlic and butter and slap them on the braai (barbie) shell down. cook +-8mins. turn them for the last 2 mins to crisp a bit
1. Scientific name:
Jasus Llandi or something like that.

2. Common names:
Crayfish, Kreef, Red Gold, Chick Magnets etc.

3. Location targeted:
From Nambia along the West Coast of South-Africa around Cape Point to about Cape Agulhas.(Might be further but I haven't been diving further up.)

4: Typical habitat:
You can find them in water that is 50cm deep and 10 m and deeper. Mostly between kelp and in rocky areas.

5. General techniques:
Much the same that Griff said above.
Especially the horns that pierce your hands. After some dive trips it looks as if I lost a fight with a bale of barbed wire.

6: Legislation

Minimum Size: 8.9 cm 89mm from the middle horn in the middle carpace to the end of the carpace measured in a straigt line.

Daily Bag limit : 4

Season: from 22 November to the Monday of Easter Weekend.

From 22 November to the end of Febuary you can dive every day. After that only on Weekends and Public Holidays.

Not allowed to dive from a boat.
No soft shells.
No berries(eggs)
Must measure in the water.
You are not allowed to use fishhooks\Gaffs to hook them. Not sure about spearing one but I think that will be frowned upon.
Also not sure about the torch Idea.

A beautifull dark red\brown.
A bit more rugged looking than the East Coast Lobster. haha


To take out crayfish you must think like one. People pay hundreds of Rands for them, Octopus eats them and some kinds of fish as well.
So they will be trying to hide in the best possible places.

The way I found that works best for me it to go down by pulling yourself down on a piece of kelp. When you are near the bottom start looking for Cracks\Holes\Overhangs etc. Lightly kick our flippers and move forward slowly by pulling on pieces of kelp. Always try to keep your hand on one. When you see a crayfish go to the surface and gather your breath. Don't worry about loosing the place because you have the kelp stem in your hand.

Don't float on to and try to see one. You will not find a lot that way.
I went diving with a buddy once and he couldn't find one and I took out our quota in 10 min.

Go down and look into each hole and crevice. Look under rocks and and everywhere. On the West Coast we don't have to worry about things like eels and scary stuff so if you can't see into a hole feel it out. This is also sometimes the only way to take out your crays because the water on the West Coast is not very clean on average.

When you locate one try and grab it over the back. this will give you the best chance of taking one out. If you can't get your hand over the back try and grab the feelers where it comes out of it's head. You will have a better chance to take it out than grabbing further up.

Sometimes when the Cray is a bit stuborn you can move it back and forth.(Remember to pull a face when the horns stab holes into your fingers.) This is usually enough to get it out.

Beware of where you stick your hand in though. You don't want to stick it under loose rocks that can fall and trap your arm. This has happened before. Also don't stick your hand in a place where you won't be able to get it out. You will always find another crayfish but finding another life isn't that easy.

They also sometimes sit in tunnels or in places that has back exits. All you have to do then is hold your one hand at the back and wave the other in the front and catch. Easy no swearing or pulling faces.

A thing that I noticed once it that they are sh*t scared of octopusses. If you can catch one and wave it in the front of a hole that has crayfish in it check the reaction.
This is why I always try to keep my fingers together when I move in for the kill. I know that this might sound like a load of bull but hell, I drove 80 Km to dive so I will try anything that wil increase my chances of taking out the ones with barnickles on their backs.

I also experimented with using red gloves and the results were encouriging(Spell check:eek:)

Favourite way to cook them:
Boil water and chuck them in. (This may sound cruel but they die almost instantly) When the water starts boiling again time it for 15 minutes.

Lift them out of the water and hook the tail over a sink with the front hanging down. Break of the horns. This allows the water to drain. Let them cool down a bit and then break out the tail VERY carefully by twiting it to the left and then to the right. If you this right the tail will come out very nicely.

Use a pair of kitchen sicors to cut trought the bottom without damaging the flesh (I know REAL men break them open by hand but ussually at this stage my hands are moer toe(Pretty full of holes)) Take out that delicious piece of flesh and break in half. Take out the poo pipe and break into chunks. Dip this in Garlic butter and put on a few drops of lemon juice. Dip in mayonaise.
Eat. You will like it.

Other benefits:
Crayfish diving can be a very attractive thing fo women if you do it right. Take her along and dive (Don't stay in too long, She will get pissed if you leave her alone to long.) When you come out make sure you have a few biggies. Then you must tell her about the big shark you saw even if there is no shark around in a 1000 miles. Or tell her anything to let her understand that this is a huge sacrifice for you and you only do it beacuase you like her so much. Prepare they crayfish in the way described on top and take it from there.
Another use: Nothing let her parents like you more than a few crays. They will immediatley think that you are a brave\responsible young man and that you are the man for their daughter.

Sorry for the long post but I love crayfish diving and the associated benefits. This is 10 years of diving expierience compressed.Gimme some Karma for the effort.

Cheers Reinier
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Reactions: Griff and loopy
Hey Murat.
when the winter starts we get here a specie we call "Antias", They are bigger than the normal 20-30cm fish I see in the summer. Do you know what fish I am talking about? Do you know it's english name?
:hmm Silver. 70cm or so. :) I never spearfished, still haven't freedived at winter, and I rarely scuba the Med at winter as well.

Some cruel Fishermen here leave live squids lined to a bouy as bait for them - I tried to release one once, but it didn't work so good, it just paniced and started squirting ink, and I think it was in pain. :(

I just hoped we share a same naming for fish since we're in the same area.
It may be dentex.As you know 70 cm fish is not common in Med.
I know, that's why fishermen and spearos love it.
maybe it's a bit smaller than 70cm, but it's sure a lot bigger than common catch.
Hey DeepThough did you ever made open water diving in Med?
I am wondering about pelagic population in open med. sea.
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