Fishing, there’s a lot more to it than you think! 1



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“One of the things I’m going to do when I retire is go fishing!”

The great day arrives so out they go, buy a rod and reel, a dinghy and motor, find a stretch of water and cast a line expecting a fish to come along and eat their bait or lure immediately. If only it was that simple!

Maybe one of my many experiences as a charter fishing guide will provide an inkling!

My client for the day was most mysterious, an American who had insisted on visiting the remote resort where I was based when there were few in-house guests, wanted an entire block of (four) units to himself, carried the most tamper proof luggage staff had ever seen, required his room made up at specific times each day while he watched, left sealed instructions with the manager in case he became sick or worse, and talked in guarded terms about the international implications of world events as though he was privy to the most intimate details. The staff quickly became convinced that he was some sort of intelligence ‘spook’!

Anyway, on his ‘lay’ day to the river, Mr ‘Smith’ told me, “I’m a very intelligent guy, Dave, and haven’t done this before, so I want to learn ALL about fishing today!” Somewhat doubting that ‘miracles’ were a bit out of my league, in true diplomatic style, I offered to do my best.

The fishing was a little slow but he did manage to land a couple of very nice fish with my assistance. He was uncharacteristically quite on the drive home through the rainforest then suddenly conceded, “Yeah, there is a lot more to fishing than I thought!”

I’ve been fishing since I was 10, written for the fishing media since the early 1970’s and spent over 25 years working as a full-time charter operator, mostly based on Cape York Peninsula. So after all those years, and with a quarter century spent with my feet in a boat more days than on the shore, you’d think I know it all. Personally, my ‘lifetime’ experience is best expressed thus, ‘The more you know about fishing, the more you realise you don’t know!”

That said, my advice to those who are new or inexperienced is don’t be intimidated by the words above, get out and enjoy the fantastic watery world and all the beautiful places that surround them. Although catching a fish is the ultimate result, the relaxation and soothed soul that goes with the process can be just as enjoyable. These days I find the animated banter with good mates and observing the natural world just as enjoyable as the fishing. No two fishing days are ever the same – and that’s after many hundreds of them!

In the past few years, I’ve travelled a bit joining the hoards of grey nomads enjoying this great country of ours, particularly the great fishing spots. As soon as fellow campers find out that you have a bit of expertise as an angler, people start beating a path to your door wanting advice. Now, that’s not a problem to me, I’ve been interacting with the public much of my working life and, in spite of meeting some very annoying examples along the way, still enjoy helping people enjoy their fishing better.

But a word of advice here! Getting the good oil often depends on how you approach the source. Some retiree’s still retain their ‘management’ attitude from their working life and ‘insist’ on information rather than taking a more humble, casual approach. One time on the Daly River, my companion and I were kept in beer after one nearby camper reckoned the advice he wanted us to give was worth a contribution. The practice quickly caught on, keeping our Engel fridge well stocked. The only trouble was our knots becoming a bit dodgy after a few cold ones!

Where do we go from here? Well, I’m certainly open to suggestions or questions. Having lived on the Cape for over 25 years, I know a little bit about the place and can offer advice to travellers heading to the ‘Tip’ as well. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for my contributions in such publications as Fish & Boat magazine and National Australian Fishing Annual (NAFA).

Just one more cast!

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  1. I won’t be bothering you or buying you beer. The last thing I want to do with my spare time is kill sentient creatures in the most agonising way possible, through suffocation or the rupture of their internal organs as they are pulled through the water with a hook through their mouths. No thanks.

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