A tale of two centuries

I can't remember the first time I either received an email or read Western Angler, but these two seemingly unrelated events have been absolutely pivotal to the penning of this editorial, and the journey it represents.

I was a voracious reader of fishing magazines as a kid, long before the World Wide Web was born from the brain of English scientist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 and changed all our lives forever.

For a few years my parents owned a newsagency and I loved poring over the eastern states publications, many of which I still have as I am a hoarder.

Most of the stories had little to do with WA, but every time there was an article with a local flavour, that was a treasure to be read over and over again, lest one piece of useful information had been missed.

By the time WAngler started life as Western Angler and Diver in 1985 my parents were out of the newsagency, so I doubt I was immediately aware of this exciting new local publication dedicated solely to WA fishing.

Science lost in translation

The shark management debate has finally, well, jumped the shark.

At the time of writing, I was reliably informed Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly was contemplating banning trophy shark fishing in the wake of some unsavoury incidents involving sharks caught by recreational fishers in WA.

In essence, his plan at this time was to increase protection of sharks markedly by putting a blanket ban on the taking of all sharks over about 1.8m right across the State.

Hoo-doo smashed at Gamex

The most glaring gap in my fishing resume has long been a wahoo.

As readers of Western Angler magazine and indeed most people on my Facebook are well aware, my inability to catch one of these oceanic speedsters has been a talking point for some time and generally been linked to the fabled Coghlan Curse.

Ain't Exmouth grand!

New Year’s Day was a historic one for WA recreational fishing, and Exmouth in particular.

Genial charter skipper Eddy Lawler from Peak Sportfishing and his crew broke new ground when they finally captured the elusive 1000-pound marlin – WA’s first ever ‘grander’ – lifting fishing into the mainstream media for a couple of days.

The blue marlin was hooked off Ningaloo by 28-year-old angler Clay Hilbert, a fisheries manager from Nambucca Heads in New South Wales who is a regular visitor to Exmouth, and the capture has the potential to lift markedly the profile of the town on the international game fishing stage.

Tackle tips & more

These are uncertain times.

No one knows that better than the editor and co-owner of a fishing magazine given the many challenges faced by print media in the modern digital world.

Not only that, at times it feels like recreational fishing is copping death by a thousand cuts given the multitude of challenges facing our angling community.

Likewise, those who are in many ways the public faces of our great pastime face the same uncertainty about what the future holds.

Can't see the forest for the trees


DATELINE: January 20, 2012.

To whom it may concern, I wish to know why recreational fishing was virtually excluded from this brochure distributed through the West Australian newspaper today as a valid tourism attraction?

In the first 36 pages of text, we got one pic of two people standing on a jetty with fishing rods, and a couple of cursory mentions.

This despite the fact that the social and economic value of rec fishing would absolutely eclipse that of most of the other activities put together.

Many very good people do a lot to promote our local fishing attractions, which are already a massive earner for the State and have the potential to attract serious overseas dollars, as happens in places like New Zealand and even closer to home in the Northern Territory.

Fishing’s basic

“Whenever I catch a fish, I believe that we are meant to cross paths in our lifetime.”

Those are the deeply philosophical words of Jung-Hoon Park, who uses a traditional Korean fishing pole called a gyeonji to catch freshwater fish in South Korea.

These historic poles are believed to be somewhere between 300 and 500 years old and the method is regarded as the traditional fishing method of Korea.

Essentially a gyeonji is a short stick with a wide paddle-like attachment at the end around which the line is wrapped, making it the most basic rod and reel combo you can imagine.

Media lured by fishing

Could it be that fishing is becoming cool again? Recreational fishing, angling, whatever you choose to call it, has been around for hundreds of years and is an integral part of the Australian lifestyle. It has probably never been more popular.

The latest figures suggest there are more than 750,000 anglers in WA alone and somewhere from 3-5 million across the country, which is a fair chunk of a population of around 24 million.

In WA alone there are 140,000 Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence holders and 52,000 rock lobster licence holders, the latter figure up almost 50 per cent in the last couple of years.

This makes fishing clearly one of the most popular pastimes for Australians and it is estimated as a generator of at least a billion dollars in the WA economy. In Victoria, the figure for recreational fishing was most recently estimated at around $7 billion.