Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lobsters in New Zealand

Pat Swanson is a buddy of mine I met a while back in New Zealand who is a diver, father, and outdoorsman in one of the most beautiful areas of the world I've had the pleasure of visiting. As we do here in the US, they live to be on the water and while their "crayfish" come from colder water and taste a fair bit better than their American cousins the Spiny Lobster, the adventure and life that we lead is of the same language. Here's Pat's story from this Xmas dive: (Cameron Kirkconnell)

Christmas is a time for sharing - good company, good wine and good food. There's nothing like fresh seafood at a summer Christmas in New Zealand, and most people's favourite would be fresh crayfish.
NO matter where you are in the world you can live and celebrate the SaltLife.
The weather had been great, but the crayfish locally had been scarce, and small. My mate Simon and I decided to take the risk and head up the coast to a place I manage to get into about once a year. Two times out of three you will go there and not even bother getting in - the substrate here is a type of sedimentary rock, and the slightest swell reduces the visibility to zero. Add to that the fact that the fishing is not always that good, it can be a long swim for not much.
On this day, the sea was flat, the sky was blue, and the viz looked doable. We swam the 700m out to the reef, to find viz of about 3m, outstanding for this spot! My first dive down to a ledge about 3m down showed the risk had been worthwhile - three large crays clinging to the underside of the ledge, with nowhere to go. Within ten minutes we had our limit - six each, all around two to two and a half kilos in weight. We stayed out a while longer, and fed some crays by hand with some fish we had speared. There were many many more crays there, but it is a spot I would be happy to leave alone for the next year. Simon had scavenged a cray pot, tied it to his float, and started towing it back to shore. I had the crays in my plat (catch boat), which made the swim so much easier. Back on shore, Simon gloated, showing off the 10kg yellowtail he had speared in barely a meter of water on the way back.
Notice the sled for keeping the crays and the fish out of the water. The area we are in New Zealand they have a White Shark they call the Taranaki Terror that they see offshore every year and we had it swim past our boat last year. Makes you think twice about dragging a bloody fish a few hundred meters from shore...
Both of our families enjoyed a Christmas feast that would be unaffordable for most people, but had only cost us a drive up the coast. Now I'm waiting for the weather to settle again so I can start chasing those albacore that I know are just off the coast!
Pat Swanson
Taranaki New Zealand

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