Thursday, April 14, 2016

New MAMBA Compound Roller Speargun Pool Tests

Pool Testing the new MAMBA Compound Roller Gun
Here is a sneak peak at the new MAMBA Compound Roller Speargun. We tested a bunch of guns but this one way my favorite, it just plain blew me away with its performance.

Specs:
1000 Custom painted (blue Water version) MAMBA Barrel
Rob Allen Vecta 2 grip with loading butt.
MAMBA Compound Roller Head
Harken pulley rollers
Powered by 3 sets of 16mm rubbers plus a 14mm kicker
7.5mm single flopper shaft

The gun shot through a 150mm hard foam target at 5m from the tip of the gun (6.4m from handle) and pulled a meter or so of line off the reel. This makes this gun not only unbelievable, but the future for compact Blue water spearguns.

I am off to Mozambique now to try them out on some real targets.

Coatesman

MAMBA Xfin Prototypes - The Deep Vader Carbon Spearfishing Fins

Latest Prototypes from MAMBA XFin - The Deep Vader Carbon Spearfishing Fin
Steve and I have been hard at work this last month or so working on some new carbon spearfishing fin designs and processes. We have totally redesigned the XFin and using some of the coolest tech around have a unique carbon blade that combines efficiency, strength and power into one crazy fin.
You might be asking what the V tail on the fin is all about. Well that is a secret :-) you will just have to try a pair and see.

Coatesman

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Ascension Tuna Spearfishing Record

The Ultimate Tuna - Originally published in the Ultimate Spearfishing Magazine
Words by Paul Shannon
Tuna Paul Shannon ASI Spearfishing
Paul Shannon - Ascension Island Yellowfin Tuna
A couple of years ago my 3 mates and I decided to set ourselves a goal: Save enough money every year for a spearfishing trip, diving in a new location every year if possible. Unfortunately, year one failed to provide an opportunity and as a result the pot got bigger and the boundaries of our trip were extended.
The team comprised of Kitt Steen, the owner of the Yum Thai restaurants in Durban North and Umhlanga, who was our chef. Dion Kuter, a water purification specialist and our trip organizer. Andy Deckwash, our boating engineer. And I was the “wheeler-dealer” from Sparesboyz. All of us are ex-underwater hockey players who have been diving together for over 25 years. Whilst we are not competitive divers, we do always enter into a competition between ourselves for the biggest fish. This time the prize was to be a really good single malt whiskey. A fair deal, we thought.
We planned on doing a trip to either of the Lazarus Banks in Northern Mozambique or possibly West Africa. Then Dion came up with an out-of-the-box exploration; hunting big Tuna of Ascension Island. Game on!
There was a lot of planning which was mostly carried out by Dion. The plan was to fly to UK and from there catch a military aircraft to “Ascension Island”, a remote location just south of the Equator with its nearest neighbour being West Africa, which is approximately about 1600km away. How secluded is Ascension Island? It has been quoted as the most desolate place on earth, so that should help you paint a picture. It now has approximately 880 inhabitants (all on a 2 year contract) and it covers an area of approximately 88 square kilometres. Part of the planning involved obtaining MI 5 clearance, which was a worrying factor as one of our members, Kitt Steen, an ex-Rhodesian who has had a questionable past. Thankfully, our fears were allayed when we were all cleared for departure from Brize Norton military base.
Steve Ellis testing the first MAMBA Roller Gun
Next came deciding what equipment we required to land these monsters, where we would source the gear and how we’d arrange to have it all ready for the trip. A tall order, unless of course your name is Kitt or Deckwash and you have Dion and Paul to assist. Once again Dion did extensive research and came up trumps by getting together with Steve Ellis who had been to Ascension Island a few times, and had a fish of 126kg to his name. Steve is a passionate spearo and is known for his MAMBA Spearguns and his superb quality boats which he makes at Fibretech.

I paid a few visits to Rob Allen at the Dive Factory and placed orders for 1.5m carbon graphite guns with drop away 7.5m spears and heavy grade Dyneema. We were off to a “gunfight” and certainly couldn’t arrive to the occasion with knives. Sorry Kitt.
A couple of 35L floats and 30m long bungees made up the balance of the arsenal. Dion also ordered a few sardines to feed the fish, 500kg’s all in all, which Steve arranged to have shipped to the island. Then it was fitness time and Dion and I spent days training at the Kings Park Pool. We also met Steve for a pool session to practice with different equipment such as Mamba guns and roller guns; the latter of which Dion started an affair with which lasted the entire trip.


The airport was a laugh with 4 of us having to “gypo” the scales to fall within the allowable weight for an Emirates flight. Then it was the long haul to London via Dubai. From Heathrow we headed straight for Oxford all jammed into a fortunately spacious Mercedes bus. There was some touring done and a brief art museum visit, followed by the short trip to the Brize Norton military base. We arrived at Ascension after an overnight flight where we were met by Colin, a local who has a concession on the island as well as a number of boats for us to use.
The Pier at ASI
The first look at paradise 
We were greeted by absolute paradise and crystal blue seas, the perfect waters for ballies to dive. Every morning we were up at 7 o’clock in the morning, we’d have breakfast and be on the boat by 9 o’clock and in the water soon after a short 1-2km trip. Then the chumming would begin and we prepared for our minds to be blown. Crystal water and massive fish came to greet us, and at that moment I decided that Ascension truly is a spearo’s paradise. I landed the first fish on the boat, a target practice 25kg baby, but a start in any case. At this early stage we had no idea about what was to come. Absolute madness ensued and an adrenalin buzz, which was second to none, kicked in as we started seeing some really BIG fish. We all took turns and saw that there was a decent number of fish being chased and missed or shot and lost. We were told by those in the know that you need to drop to a 10-15 metre level and wait, whilst aiming at the chum. A fish will appear in your sights and then you must make sure you have a good shot before pulling the trigger. That’s sure easy to say if you’ve dived here before, I thought. Not so easy if it is day one and your adrenaline levels are off the chart. 
We started to settle and get to the business end of spearing. I got into a big fish and sunk in a great solid shot. I don’t believe in being subtle and letting a fish run until it tires and then hauling it in. I say put in a good shot: hold the pressure, and enjoy the ride and the fight. These fish swim straight down, taking all of your line and popping the float under a couple of times. Often, I would put in a fair amount of effort to retrieve the line only to have the same line taken again by the fish. After about 25 minutes of line-in, line-out we got colour, and Steve went to “settle the fish”. I then pulled the line in and managed to grab this beauty of a Yellowfin, before Steve demonstrated what to do with the long blade knife. The fight on top was a fun, learning experience, to say the least, primarily because the fish was big, strong and difficult to hold. Steve had warned of getting wrapped in the line, as this can be fatal. We carried special cut-away knives for that exact eventuality, but fortunately we experienced no problems. The fish I landed was a big one. It was my biggest game fish by a long shot, and it later weighed in at 83kgs. There was a moment of congratulations and high fives all round; then it was back to the business.  I was now content with my catch, and we took it in turns so that each of us could bag a big fish. 
Deon with his 83kg Yellowfin Tuna
The following day Dion managed to land a beauty of a fish that also weighed in at 83kg after a long fight which went on for over an hour. On the same day, Deckwash shot a fish of 53kg. These two were also personal bests. The days went on and we did some fun shallow diving, looking for crayfish and grouper for the pot. This was a success and Kitt, always the top chef with his full complement of satisfied customers, was to prepare an awesome dinner for us. We also shot a couple of Wahoo, Sailfish and Kitt got a nice big Black Jack, possibly not one of the most difficult fish to shoot. 

Atlantic Sailfish
Deon and an Ascension Island Sailfish

Ascension Island is an absolutely beautiful place to be and we spent evenings fishing from the beach and catching Black Travelley “shot for shot” until our arms were tired. This was the signal to head for a meal and a drink to wind down after an exhilarating day. I hasten to add that the island also boasts a really cool pub called, The Saints Bar, which needless to say was frequented by all.
Another day dawned and after a morning dive with no big tuna shot, we headed for the shallows to dive in 20-30m water to look for some Wahoo. We were about 100m offshore, and seeing Wahoo, but their presence did not materialise into a catch for the two interested divers, Dion and I. However, our tenacity was rewarded when a monster tuna way over 100kgs came along. Dion was at the ready, and “thunk” his spear set well in the fish from the top, just behind the head. Moans and groans from our top men, Kitt and Deckwash, who wanted to drink rather than perform top man duties. Dion fought the fish for 2 long hours and then…nothing. This is one of the worst feelings for any spearo. All of that training for fitness and practice in the pool came to nil.
Kitt and another Wahoo
Deckwash, however, was up to shoot next when in swam what looks like a 100kg fish! He breathed up and dived down on it, took air, fired…and missesd. He cursed, swore and wondered why he missed such a golden opportunity before shedding a tear. I was up next. I dived down, waited and in came that big fish; no shot. I surfaced, breathed up again and diving down to 10m, I waited. Along came the fish again and I got ready, the adrenaline was pumping as I anticipated my shot; again no shot. Breathe up again and down we go. Here it comes, adrenaline still at maximum level, and I lined up with the MAMBA. A perfect shot on this monster fish which was at least 100kg. BANG! I got a great shot in just behind mid body and spot on the midline. A solid shot. As previously mentioned, I like to fight my fish and fight I did. Turning the fish rapidly, I was able to start pulling it up after 20-25 minutes. Dion did me a favour with the second shot and up came this monster, well over 100kg; possibly 120kg! Eventually we got it on board and it was a beauty. I was dropped back at the pier so the others could continue the day diving. 
Paul & Steve and the record Yellowfin 
It took four of us to drag this fish up steps to the cleaning section on the pier. We lifted it onto the gantry to get the weight. Oh wow! Up, up and up some more! The fishermen on the pier were all trying to guess the weight, but I don’t think anybody would have called this one. My Yellowfin weighed in at a true weight of 325lbs (147kg). A new island record! Later, Chris West informed me that this was possibly the biggest non bill-fish ever shot by a South African, and really close to the biggest Yellowfin Tuna ever shot. Needless to say, I was STOKED! The fish was donated to the Saints Bar for a braai to be held for a fishing competition the following day. Unfortunately, spearfishing entries were not allowed.

Any trip to Ascension would not be complete without a visit to Bird Island. As usual, we headed out in the morning for our boat ride to the other side of the island where were welcomed by this massive rock island jutting out just off the mainland. It is truly spectacular and provides awesome diving. Whilst we never managed to shoot any big Tuna, Dion was lucky enough to see a nice big (really big) Big Eye Tuna swimming on the surface in the 12m depth channel, but unfortunately he missed it. We swam amongst huge shoals of Big Eye Kingfish some in excess of 8kg’s and we also spotted some really big Sea Pike cruising around the island. As is commonplace on Ascension we were constantly surrounded by hundreds of Triggerfish. 
Crayfish anyone?
We had now spent 12 glorious days hunting for Tuna and crayfish and diving in the shallows just for the love and passion we have for the sea. We spent the last day exploring this beautiful island, from the greenest forest to the most desolate volcanoes. There is so much to do on Ascension and we will definitely be back to explore this unique island even further. The beaches are magnificent and you can see newly hatched turtles walking to the sea on the moonlit beaches. It’s absolutely breath-taking. 
Da Boys up on Green Mountain
Thank you to Colin Chester from Ascension Island Fishing Charters (AIFC) for your incredible hospitality, for welcoming us to your home, for the knowledge imparted you to us, the use of your bicycles for transport and your kitchen to prepare all the delightful meals we ate. To Steve Ellis, thank you for the preparation you put in for the trip and for the loan of your classic roller and other Mamba guns. Also for the many tips you gave us on how to shoot these big fish. Finally to my friends Dion, Kitt and Andrew for making Ascension Island such a memorable trip. Oh! And for the 18 year old Talisker Reserve Whiskey which is now finished!

Cheers

Paul Shannon

Take an Ascension Trip of a Lifetime go to:
Ascension Island Spearfishing Trips


Contact MAMBA Spearguns to find the perfect speargun for your diving needs