Fish for the Future

TIM MCDONALD

 

Hometown.

Brisbane, QLD Australia

 

Years Diving.

13 years since beginning spearfishing off the beach with a hand spear, boogie board fins and a couple mates.

  

Diving background – when you started. What moved you to spearfish.

 I used to surf with my brother all the time, he moved to the other end of Australia, so I was surfing a lot by myself. A couple mates who didn’t surf came to the beach with me one day and they brought down spearfishing gear. It was dead flat so I decided to grab some of their spare gear and head out with them. That first day I had great fun hunting fish with this hand spear and I was hooked from that moment!

  

Top 5 fish you’ve landed and the experience behind it. 

1) 13.57kg Large Mouth Nannygai. I shot this recently on a trip north of my Home town of Brisbane. I was on a trip diving and filming with a fisherman and videographer we were filming for his next DVD project when we stumbled on a couple huge Nannagai. These fish are super rare to see freediving as they inhabit deep water most of the time. They also can be very wary as they grow larger. I filmed them for half an hour, doing multiple freedives and observing them in their natural environment before grabbing out the gun. Fortunately they had become real settled with my presence and I was able to get a shot on the biggest of them. When I brought him up he was glowing red and just a huge fish. Every bit as big as I had thought he was when I first saw him. We weighed him in and smashed the previous Australian record!

2) 14.3kg (31.5 lb) Mangrove Jack, super smart fish in super deep water. Having to hunt these fish by either shooting in caves or hiding and stalking in deep water is an epic challenge and the reward is high.

3) 3.5kg (7.7 lb) QLD shot Pearl perch, beating a 47 year old QLD state record that has stood since the 1960’s. These fish inhabit deep water and are rarely seen by spearo’s in QLD at this size.

4) 12.7kg (28 lb) Jobfish shot locally here, took numerous long dives on this fish to finally get a shot into it. Had to use every trick in my trick book to finally coax it into range.

5) 11.7kg (25.8 lb) Threadfin Salmon (Aus record), These fish only live in dirty Crocodile filled waters of the northern Australian coast line. They are super rare to ever be seen by a diver because of the environment they live in. So to be able to shoot this Aus record was a blast and a reward for some tough searching!

6) 138kg (304 lb) Black Marlin, Easiest fish I’ve ever speared when it comes to freediving, as I shot it from the surface. But at the time 3 sharks were trying to eat me and I had to shoot the Marlin from amongst them. To make it a bit tougher i was using a 120 Euro with HF reel and no rig line.

 

Biggest fish you’ve seen and haven’t been able to land or most impressive fish you’ve seen in the water.

 10 years ago I was diving at one of our local areas off Brisbane, water was the clearest i had ever seen in this area, 30-40 meters vis, current was roaring and we were drifting a set of rocks called “the group”. I was using a 1 meter gun at the time and halfway through the first drift a huge Tiger shark swam under me with half a dozen 15kg (33 lb) yellowfin tuna swimming with it, as they swam out of view 2 other huge yellow fin close to 100kg (220.5 lb) swam under me, They were massive, sickles looking like they would touch the fish’s tail, i dove on them with my 1 meter gun they just drifted off like 2 mini submarines headed for battle!

 

Favorite place to dive. Why. Describe one memorable hunt.

I find it really hard to lock down 1 favorite place to dive as every area I’ve ever been able to dive has with it its benefits. Some areas are super fishy, others get clean water. But I would have to put Western Australia’s waters up there with the best, for shear amounts of Awesome fish! Ive seen billfish every time I’ve been there. Shot 30kg+ Mackeral every visit and the reef fish are just awesome in size and amount of fish there.

 

Favorite fish to hunt.

Why. Harder than the favorite place question, every fish has its different challenge! But I’d have to put Big Mangrove Jacks to the top of the pile for the fact they are super smart and live in deep water. Its not just the need to dive deep to shoot them, you need to be able to “hunt” deep! Makes for great challenge.

 

Scariest thing you’ve seen while diving.

 I’ve had some Gnarly shark encounters! 2 come to mind, 1st, a Big Tiger Shark tried to Swallow half my Riffe Euro after coming straight up at me out of 40 meters of water. 2ndly. I was trying to land a mulloway a number of years ago 4 sharks were trying to eat it right under my feet. I should have just let them have it but I kept fighting for my fish. One of the sharks (a 10 foot bull shark) turned on me and I got lifted out of the water as it tried to grab my leg. My dive buddy was 5 meters away from me when it happened and got absolutely freaked out, when the sharks backed off I asked him why he didn’t help me… his reply “I thought you were dead!”  He didn’t get back in the water that day, I had to dive alone the rest of the day… oh and I got the fish!

 

What’s the most rewarding part of spearfishing for you

. Always the challenge of the hunt! this is why I do it! I love being in the ocean, I love being one with nature, I love all that stuff, but the challenge of finding new things, chasing different species and learning all the time to hunt better is so addictive to me! The only thing to alter my thinking on this is when I journey to some of the places in the world that have very little in the way of possessions and don’t have the wealth that we have here in Western culture. For them food is life… In places like this our perspective gets shifted, fish move from being a challenge to a necessity for survival to eat… Ive done many Trips to the south Pacific Islands, living in the villages and being a part of Island life here, we almost get a glimpse back into our past to see why our ancestors hunted. Something I’d encourage for all of us to do once in a life time, at least!