There is something about flat calm water that just gets me excited. And when its on a shallow reef then I get even more excited. I like hunting reef fish, looking among the rocks and in caves for bronze bream or cave bass is always a thrill cause you just never know what your going to get. So my brother in law Rowan and his friend found this spot a few km from Port Edward. Its a flat, calm little bay with extremely shallow reef and when you jump in its just teaming with life. Schools of tropical fish and reef species, big bronzies, five fingers, tassle fish and more. I have been there a couple of times and have shot a cave bass, five fingers and big cape knifejaw. Every time I go there I get fish but there’s this one cave, basically a big crack on top of the reef where something is hiding and always eludes me.
Doesn’t matter how stealthily I approach this spot the moment I stick my head in that cave I just see this big red tail fin flash before me and then its gone. Its so big that my heart skips a beat and I’ll be thinking shoh what was that, it is huge. I always thought it could be a big five fingers cause they are red in color but turns out its not. Rowan and I then decided we are going camping at this spot for one night and shoot some fish. He’s an avid fisherman and also dives with me now and then. So we headed off with our gear. First obstacle was getting over this river known for big sharks. I don’t like rivers very much for some reason, they creep me out but we started walking in at the mouth chest deep and in no time we were out the other side and off we go again. It was a beautiful sunny morning and as we are walking I just kept thinking how blessed we are to be doing this.
I am at my most happiest when I take walks like these to go spearfishing at a new spot either with a friend or alone. I’m on this long sandy beach that stretches for miles on end with no one else around, the big blue sea is at your side and a slight breeze on your back. For that moment in time I forget about all my troubles and I’m genuinely happy. This is a free gift from God to anyone who wants it. All you have to do is grab it with both hands and run with it. So as we are walking I kept a close eye on the water color and it was perfect, visibility will be great. As we got to the spot we gazed upon this calm blue oasis and we knew it is on. We sat our gear down and because there are some kids around walking on the rock beds we took turns to go diving. Rowan also brought his fishing rod and some drop shots and he was happy just casting away checking to see if anything will bite.
The cool thing about this was that you don’t need big gear. All I have is a pair of goggles, small fins I borrowed from a friend, a 700mm rail gun I bought second hand and some cheap gloves, no wet suit no weight belt or any other fancy expensive equipment. So I stripped down to only my boxers and if I was alone I would have dived naked. In fact I am going to dive there naked one day 🙂 As I went into the cool water I could see about 6 to 7 meters and I made my way to the center of the bay where the reefs are. We didn’t bring any food we said that we’ll have to hunt and if we don’t get anything we don’t eat. I saw a lot of fish around but kept looking. I was after musselcracker. The only thing I don’t like about this spot is that the deeper you go the murkier the water becomes and visibility becomes very poor. Because I wear glasses I can’t see very far underwater and I don’t have contact lenses.
I should actually get some. You can only access this spot properly on low tide, high tide the viz becomes too bad and you can’t see a thing. So I bobbed around for a while checking the cracks and caves and then decided to go out and give Rowan a chance. He went in and didn’t get anything. He came out and I decided that I’ll just shoot 2 bronze bream for dinner so we can at least eat. I shot one and just kept it on my spear’s string, I reloaded and thought let me check that cave on top of the reef, I couldn’t find it at first but then I saw the line that lead towards it and I started to stealthily approach. As I came closer I saw tassle fish at the entrance, I hovered there a bit at the mouth waiting to see if something big wants to show itself and then I took a deep breath, went right down and peeped in. At first there was only a school of baardman hanging around and then literally out of nowhere this huge rock salmon just appeared. It swam straight towards me and then just turned, showing me its broad side and without any hesitation I fired my shot. I hit him in the belly and he just took off, I came up for air and the waves were starting to break over the reef, throwing me about.
I remember thinking please don’t come loose because I saw the spear had pulled back and the flap/barb opened inside its stomach and it threatened to pull out at any moment. I eventually got him closer and try to grab and hold him but failed, then got him close again and just stuck my hand into his gills and held on. He was splashing violently and those teeth are razor sharp, but I held on. I finally thrust the spear all the way through and clipped it back onto the gun. I held the fish and my gun and just glided with the waves over the reef into deeper water towards shore. I was chuffed, I couldn’t contain my excitement, I have shot rock salmon before but they were barely size, this was one for the books. I lazily paddled towards shore with not a care in the world, I saw Rowan waist deep in water casting drop shot and I just lifted this huge fish out the water. He smiled and said nice one, yes I thought so too, I truly was in my elements and this is the biggest reef fish I’ve shot so far. We didn’t have a scale but we estimated it to be between 5 and 6kgs could be less but somewhere around there.
I cleaned the fish and we got two nice fillets from it and it went onto the fire wrapped in foil and some spices. It tasted delicious, rock salmon has this soft white meat that just melts in your mouth, goes down well with a salad and some rice or even fresh buttered bread. After we ate we decided to set up camp. We made a structure out of wood and palm tree and covered it with black plastic garbage bags, we didn’t have a tent. Diving takes all the energy out of me and I had such a nice power nap. The makeshift shelter was a bit tight but we slept really well, except for the wind that blew sand onto us everything went well. Another highlight is waking up in the middle of the night on a deserted beach and just walk around and hear the waves crashing. I felt alive. The next day we packed up early and decided not to go for another dive and just go home. We had the river to cross again and we luckily got a nice section where it was waist deep all the way, although you couldn’t see it and had to play it by feel. I was crashing at a friends and I was exhausted after this trip, I only realized some hours later that I had sunstroke. We were in the sun the whole day and it took its toll on me. I was man down and needed rest and to rehydrate. I survived and all in all the trip was a huge success.