On the 17th February 2001 a few of the guys from London International Club arrived in Reciefe Brazil. The group consisted of Sakis, Fotis Stergiou, George Balbino (Brazilian host), John Penrith, Fillipe Ciedera (NASEIST Lisbon) and Paul Maxwell.
The 1st day we woke up late, unpacked our gear and met up at the local Marina with local diver Raphael. Unfortunately we were quickly informed by Raphael that he had deleted all his GPS marks under 30m. Not good news for spearos who last were in the sea 4 month ago. Anyway we headed out to a few marks given to us by another local spearo, Luiz. Viz was around 10m. 3 hours of 4 people diving the 2 marks given (15m) resulted in 1 x 1kg Trevally boated by Sakis. Rafael told us that the places were dived by everyone and his father for Spanish Mackerel. The water temp was 32degrees C with an air temp of 38degrees C. Hot. We dived a buoy outside the harbour until dark still with no results.
On the way in we stopped to catch small rock crabs on the harbour breakwater. Before entering the water we had a few shots of the local sugar cane spirit. Powerful stuff which kept us warm. The crabs were incredibly easy to eat and tasted great.
The next day we headed out to sea again to do a bit of scuba. Rafael took us to a yacht wreck in 45m he had scuppered some time ago. After 15 years of freediving breathing underwater at these depth was an experience. Even at that depth there were very few fish to be seen, only the odd snapper. Later that afternoon we went out again to dive. Viz was around 20m and pretty quickly a 6kg Snapper and a 7kg Prodical were boated. George lost an even bigger Prodical when it wrapped itself around the anchor line. That night we relaxed on the boat eating fried Snapper and Prodical soup.
The following day found us 100km south in a place called Tamdara, all white beaches and coconut trees. Our boat for this place was an ancient wooden diesel skippered by an even older 5ft local fisherman.
The 1st day was great. Sakis and Fotis teamed up against the reefies and accumulated a fair stringer of fish around the 2kg mark. These were sadly lost off the stringer while hanging off the boat in the water. Both George and Sakies boated rays. I managed to find a fishy spot and shot some decent snapper, the largest round 5kg (the only fish sale we made was one of these 10 Brazilian Rias about £3 for a 3kg fish). The conditions were idilic, Depth18-23m, water 31C, Viz 20m and no current. Turtles, Barracuda and Spanish Mackeral were seen. That night we ate a Snapper on the fire. Very tasy.
The next day was a late on as we had to arrange liscences and sort out a few things. We headed far South to a place that we had no marks for, very clever, and surprise surprise never found the reef. The skipper had this amazing system for finding reef; a bit of iron on some mono. His backup was a few baited hooks. Flatfish = sand. Small grouper = rock. After a major detour we headed back north to a spot in 23m. It was a clusted of 3 rocks. No fish were taken other than an Indian Mirror by John.
The following morning saw an early start. Sakies wanted to do some depth so we stayed in around 20-27m most of the day. The reef was very flat and some Jack Trevally and Snapper came out. We also found some reef that the locals did not know about.
That evening both Sakis and I suffered with sunstroke. Areas of flesh were on fire.
The next day only George and John braved the sun. With them went the skippers 2 spearfishing sons. A good few Parrot fish came out along with Spanish Mackeral and Snapper. The fish of the day was a Kingfish of 7kg shot by George. He deserved it as he had been diving consistently hard all along.
On Friday every one was out with a keenness brought on by the sight of the fish taken in shallow water the day before. Sakis and I wore tracksuit pants this time for protection from the sun. 1st place was a reef in 14m with 17m Viz. Water was again warm and Snapper / Parrots were taken. Sakies took a large 3kg Sargos type fish. Superb looking fish.
After that we moved out into 22m. The vis on the bottom was a milky 3m viz. I took a small Spanish Mak and Sakis saw some Snapper lurking in the murk. Once I went down alongside George and watched him line up on a fast moving away Snoek and miss. We estimate it at around 5kg.
The next day being our last in Tamandara we headed out at dawn to try our luck on the shallower reefs for gamefish. No gamefish were to be seen but a few snapper and parrots ended up on the deck. The Greeks, Sakis and Fotis, found an area of “bream” and returned with a full stringer. After this we headed out to 22m to fish some decent reef. The reef was covered by a layer of “milk” making it impossible to fish. In by 13:00 to dry the suits for tomorrows flight to Florinapolis.
The 1st day in Florinapolis was a late one. Our boat for this part was a 26ft fully kitted diesel (things are looking up). We meet up with Brazilian spearo and friend Fernando. Fernando tells us it is not great viz-wise but we should go anyway. We head out the lagoon (1/2 hr trip) and go South to some islands. Viz is 6m on the top and 3-2m on the bottom. 3 Hours diving produce around 15 fish between the 5 of us. Sargos, Grouper, Kingfish. Fernando gets a nice Grouper of about 7kg.
The next day the wind is up but we head out anyway. This time we go north where the better areas are. After a 1 ½ hours travel we come to the area. The skipper tells us the Brazilian record Grouper was taken below our present position. This is encouraging but what is not encouraging is the fact that there are fleets of large fishing boats braving out the bad seas behind the island.
We give the sea facing side of the island a go anyway. On my 1st dive down I see 7 or 8 x 1-3kg “Steera” hovering above a rock in 10m. The sight is great. I have never seen them acting like this before. The current is screaming and there is no ways we can get around to them. We change tactics and are taken 1km upstream so we can drift the island face. It is a no go as conditions deteriorate further and viz drops to 2m with massive swell. This is a real shame as I see a shoal of Pompano, there are millions of sprats everywhere and I can hear excellent reef in 20+m below me.
We go to the lee side of the island and jump in there. All is very quiet except a few small grouper on flat reef. After an hour messing around the skipper prepares a fish quiche for us and we fall asleep on the deck in the sun.
After a snooze we move the boat for George who wants to get some Mussels in shallow. The day before we collected about 100. They were about 15cm long and 6cm wide and tasted good. Sakis, John and I jumped in while George went off in search of mussels. Surprisingly enough this spot held fish. I also saw some nice Grouper and heard larger ones. At one stage I had just shot a 2+kg “Sargo” when the skipper started shouting. I looked up and could see sprats going bannanas on the surface. My spear is buried deep in this fish and does not seem to want to budge. I hear shouts from the others and duckdive to see some of the action. The sprats part and a large shoal of Yelowtail Kingfish around the 6-8 kg range zoom in on me veering away at the last minute. A great sight. John has shot one but looses it after a short fight. He is thrilled anyway as it is his 1st decent gamefish he has ever shot. After that the area stays fishy for some time and we take some nice snapper and kingfish. The Yellowtail are there on the bottom now but keep their distance.
It just goes to show how weather dependent our activity is. We travel ½ way around the world and the wind determines if we dive or not.
The time we had was great. The people were great.
Thanks to George Balbino and the Brazilian guys for arranging the trip.
Fillipe is still there with Fernado and tells us that the water is still foul but they have had a dive where he got an 8kg Bonito.
Paul, I had 3 days of spearfishing in Florianópolis after your departure.
first day- 3 meter viz,south wind, 1 hour on the water, aprox 16 degres Celcius and NO fish!!
2nd day-4 meter viz,south wind, aprox 19º, hole day in the water, me and Fernando caught 1 merou aprox 9 kilo(toke us 2 hours to take the fucking fish out of the hole!!) at 8-9 meters depth
3rd day-5 meter viz,south wind, 20 and some degres, hole day in the water, saw anchovas, olhetes( the yellowtail king of kingfish), heard a lot of merous dawn there. We here diving in moleques the 3 days in some rocks about 1 mile from the moleques main island. Fernando caught 2 merous about 4 and 7 kilo. 1 olhete 2 kilo top.2 big “lip” sargus. I cought one aprox 6 kilo bonito (had lots of fun taking this one out of the water!!). Fernando also lost a 25 kilo merou!!!! And that was it!