One of the coolest things about this sport is the people you meet. This week I was in New Plymouth, New Zealand and met with Pat Swanson who is a multiple national champion and world record holder for Snapper which is one of the most sought after fish in New Zealand and Australia.
Pat made sure I had a good sampling of the Kiwi beers and we talked about tactics, travel, and everything from the inter-pacific games to the drama surrounding the bluefin tunas off the Hoki trawlers on the southern islands.
He’s one of those guys that think deeply into strategy and technique when diving and makes sure that being consistently successful is not left to chance.
It was a pleasure meeting you Pat I
Hope we can get out week after next and do some diving.
“I have dived for the best part of 40 years, and spearfished for most of that time. I have been serious about spearfishing for the last 25 years. In 1989 I entered my first competition, the New Zealand National Champs, where I finished 20th. I competed in every Nationals for the next 21 years, every time qualifying for our National team selection trials. I have been National Champion 3 times, in 2001, ’02 and ’04. I have represented New Zealand 7 times in our Interpacific competitions in Australia, Tahiti and New Caledonia, and in 2004 at the Worlds in Chile, where I finished well down the field!
I work as a school teacher now, and this year taught my class of 9 and 10 years olds to snorkel, and explore underwater. I worked for 8 years in fisheries research, mainly working on albacore and skipjack tuna fisheries. I spent 8 years working full time as a commercial urchin and abalone diver in New Zealand. Even after a full day’s diving, I would still love to grab my gun and go for a spearfish.
I assist Spearfishing New Zealand by being the “Keeper of the Records”, and have a number of records to my name. I hold the New Zealand and World records for Snapper, one of our premier fish here in NZ.
My kids are keeping me poor at the moment, but I am planning on exploring the world, with my spearfishing gear in the future.
When I spearfish, I like my gear to be simple and functional – most of the time I use a single rubber 120cm euro gun, with a fixed flopper – I have speared yellowtail up to 80 lbs and most of my other fish with this. I occasionally go to a slightly bigger gun if I am fishing blue water.
I love diving on my own, but equally I love spearfishing with a bunch of friends who I trust and get on with. My two biggest pieces of advice to new spearos, are to keep it simple, and learn to get closer.
One of the best things about the spearfishing community, all over the world, are the people you meet, and the stories you hear and tell.
Like everyone, I have a bucket list:
- a yellowtail over 40 kg (90lbs)
- a big wahoo
- a big mahimahi
- a decent yellowfin
Other than the yellowtail, I will have to travel overseas – something I am happy to look forward to!