Profile on Spearfisherman Anthony Dunne

Anthony with two good DagasStarting out

I started spearing when I was just thirteen after I met a chap in Umhlanga (just north of Durban, South Africa) who speared fish. I made a gun that, when I finally tested it, on land, on a fish shot by this diver, only penetrated a centimeter or so. Not being one to whip a dead horse, I gave up on that gun immediately thereafter. A year or so later my oldest brother gave me a gun he had and didn't use - it was a 1m Champion handle gun and he had no idea what he had started!!

Intro to the deep

I took the long route to becoming a reasonable spearo - diving with peers for many years in the shallows and finally getting invited out to Tiffanies reef about 50km north of Durban, which is a reef that starts in the waves and goes about 750 meters out and down to about 18m to the sand, so it was a big day for me!! At least I got to shoot and lose my first Cuda (King Mackerel). Thereafter I met Juggs Holtzman who was basically my mentor from then on, getting me to dive Aliwal Shoal, about 5km out off the south coast about 60km south of Durban, and other deeper spots. While studying for a year in Port Elizabeth on the south eastern coast of SA I had the chance to start getting to know a little about Brusher, also known as a Musselcracker, Latin name Sparidon Durbanensis I think, knowledge that stood me in good stead back in Natal.

Wahoo diving club

Once I returned to the land of warm water and plenty, I set about expanding my diving horizons. Through diving with more experienced divers and trying new spots I honed my skills, and managed to pick up a few Provincial and National records along the way. As I got to know my equipment needs better I began to make my own guns, and have made quite a few along the way, losing the odd one to the ocean, it should be said! Keen to be part of the spearfishing community I joined Wahoo Diving Club, based in Durban, introduced by Juggs and Marcel Cilliers, who, I think, were both on the committee at the time. The next year I stood for Spearfishing Officer and held this position in the club for the next six or so years. I took over from August Thom as Chairman of Wahoo in 1998 and had the Chair until 2000.

Competition diving

I started competing in competitions after I had been diving for about 12 years. While at the University of Natal I took part in our Inter-varsity comp up at Sodwana (just below South Africa's border with Mozambique) with Tim Theunissan and Roger Horrocks. We were lucky enough to thrash the competition as well as a local team, but there weren't too many fish around. Standard competition fare from then on has included the annual comps run by Wahoo, such as the Winter Gamefish up at Cape Vidal (which was a complete washout this year unfortunately) and the Cuda Classic, also run by Wahoo. Never being lucky enough to win any of the comps I did however manage second place at the Winter Gamefish three years running. In 1998 I first took part in the Nationals comp held in Durban in the Development Team for Natal and came 14th overall. The next year I made it to the C Team and dived at Stillbaai in the Eastern Cape (on the Southern coast of SA) where I was lucky enough to crack the top ten placing 8th. !

Well placed at nationals

In 1999, once again in the C Team, down at Hole In the Wall in the Transkei I made it to 5th position and Natal succeeded in getting all its teams into the A league - quite a feat!! I made it to the B Team the next year but unfortunately the Nationals comp at Cape St. Francis (on the Southern coast of SA) was cancelled due to bad water and weather. The following competition, set for the Port Elizabeth area, was planned with some of the days to be held at Bird Island. Quite a lot of seals live there and of course the almost resident Great Whites to snack on them and possibly the odd tasty spearo.... This and other factors contributed to the cancellation of that competition due to lack of interest. The next competition, 2002 was held at the Hole In the Wall in the Transkei once again and this time I was lucky enough to land myself in the A Team after having won the one trial that I dived, the other I was sick for and, due to water and weather constraints, we only held two trials. As luck would have it the day our team arrived to scout the area to re-familiarize ourselves with the fish and conditions, was the last good day as a massive cold front had settled on the country dumping much rain and snow in quantities enough to cut off a lot of smaller inland villages and towns. The surf also became, um, interesting, which whipped up the bottom and made shallow diving a "little" tricky. The comp was eventually cancelled - THREE YEARS IN A ROW!!

Springbok trials

Later in the year Springbok Trials were held with only selected people invited to attend, one of the pre-requisites was to have made the Provincial team for the cancelled National competition. This is a trial to see who gets to be included in the South African National team to compete against the rest of the world in Brazil this year. I was selected to dive in these trials and over two consecutive days held in the Scottburgh area south of Durban I placed 3rd and 6th giving me an overall position of fourth, which secured me the position of reserve for the team. Unfortunately some work opportunities came up that I couldn't let slip by and I had to pass on the chance to dive for South Africa.

Dogtooth tuna

Ever a keen spearo I have a done a few diving trips outside of South Africa and the most entertaining have been those to Zanzibar off Tanzania. There I managed to boat a few good-sized Dogtooth Tuna up to 59kg with a biggest bag of 5 on Christmas day - quite a nice Christmas present. Other fish included Sailfish and Ignoblis Kingfish up to 36kg and some nice Rock Salmon or River Snapper. When a huge Brindle Bass in the