Blue Water Hunting and Freediving - Digital Version 1 - Page 155
dogtooth tuna reliable shot is centrally , from above and behind the head at a 45-degree angle . Prangers ( multibarbed spearheads ) work very well from the side , but you must be close — 8 to 10 feet — an infrequent event .”
Greg tells two good stories , illustrative of dogtooth tuna hunting . Both incidents occurred at Kenn Reef , some 300 miles off the Central Queensland Coast , Australia . In May 1993 , Greg and fellow diver Gunther Pfrengle found fish on the north end of the reef , over several bomies ( Australian for coral pinnacles ). The pair drifted near another diver ’ s boat , hoping his spearing activity would attract the tuna . In the 100-foot visibility water , Greg spotted a tuna accompanied by several small whaler sharks , cruising midwater around a coral pinnacle . They disappeared , so Greg shot a small trevally and cut it up for bait . A 100-pound dogtooth tuna , with its entourage of sharks , reappeared and brazenly swam quite close , close enough for Greg ’ s shot to knock it momentarily senseless .
Recovering somewhat , the fish took off , taking most of the line from Greg ’ s reel as it headed for the bottom , where it became tangled on a coral pinnacle . “ That ’ s when it started thrashing wildly and all hell broke loose ,” Greg recalls . “ About 25 sharks , driven into a frenzy , ripped into the struggling fish . Other large reef fish , including a great trevally ( ignoblis ) joined the fray . Eventually , the sharks thinned out and I recovered the head and skeletonized remains of the fish , now reduced to 45 pounds .”
The next morning Greg and Gunther returned to the same area , working a sand gutter in 80 feet of water , where the tuna were drawn from deeper water . Dogtooth tuna appeared each time they cut up speared unicorn fish for burley . Greg shot an 80-pound fish that eventfully ripped his line on the coral and swam off . On the way up from his dive , he spotted Gunther being towed
behind his 25-meter float line . He ’ d shot a large tuna , which was busily trying to escape both the spear and the 20-odd sharks chasing it . Gunther ’ s pranger spearhead , driven into the tuna ’ s head , held fast . Running out of air , he released his float line , and both divers thought they ’ d never see his rig again as they chased it into deep water . Luckily , the big fish circled back as the divers watched it artfully dodge the pursuing sharks . Gunther , still out of breath , asked Greg to try the 70-foot dive for a second shot . Greg ’ s shot was good and the two soon had the big fish rolled into the boat .
Greg reloaded as he swam out to retrieve Gunther ’ s float and several other fish he ’ d attached to it earlier . Arriving at the float , he found that sharks had eaten the remaining fish , but that three large tuna appeared , circling in mid-water . They were wary , one even sported a scratched head where a pranger spearhead had bounced off the day before . Greg made an extended dive of well over a minute into 60 feet of water , and finally made a long shot . Another 100-pound-plus tuna sped off with all his gear , into water 180 feet deep , so deep that Greg ’ s float burst from the excessive water pressure . Luckily his gun , separated from the buoy , floated up to 100 feet . Greg made the deep dive and released his gun as a pack of sharks devoured his tuna 80 feet below .
Back at the boat , the divers weighed Gunther ’ s tuna . “ It weighed 55.5 kilos ( 122 pounds ), slightly heavier than Les Gleaves ’ 121-pound Australian record , speared eight years earlier ,” Greg says . “ However , we could not claim it as a world record because it was an assisted catch .”
South African Jean Napier holds her country ’ s record for dogtooth tuna . Jean had been diving for nine years before her big chance came . She started like many of us — learning to scuba dive . Her instructors and friends were avid
Two bluewater greats display the impressive heads of dogtooth tuna . Top Cameron Kirkconnell , bottom Barry Paxman .