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Sportfishing: The Dedication Factor

MY young bloke Andrew is 34 now. He does a lot of gamefishing out of Newcastle and Port Stephens but his other great passion is chasing mulloway on lures and bait. He works hard and fishes harder just like I did at his age. I recently had a chance to spend a few days with him and chase a beach jewie. It was a real eye opener for several reasons. The afternoon started off at 4pm with a one kilometre walk out to the end of Stockton breakwall with a heap of gear and a 50 litre esky on a trolley. Half a dozen buckets of water were put in the esky and a battery operated bilge pump turned on to aerate the water. He then spent more than two hours catching 20 yellowtail for livebait. A stop half way back to bucket more fresh water and then once again back at the car and I was starting to feel worn out but that was only the start of it. 

We drove 20 minutes to access the beach and deflated the tires on his Hilux. A 15 minute beach drive had us in front of a very good looking gutter. More water changes to keep the bait alive and we had two rods set with fresh yakkas in the gutter. The waiting game began. We started a fire with drift wood and sat waiting for one of the tip mounted light sticks to bounce. By the time it got to midnight I was falling asleep so I went to bed in the reclined front seat of the truck. Andrew kept changing water in the esky and replacing the baits every half hour. That went on until 4am on the low tide change. We then packed up, drove back along the beach, inflated the tires and went home. I crawled into bed at 5am. The result? Three small fish to about 90cm which were caught and released while I was asleep. 

I was a wreck the entire next day. Andrew got up mid-morning and went and did the same thing that night again. He got a 130cm fish and got home at 3am. That was a wakeup call that at 64, I can’t do what I did at 34. I don’t have the stamina, physical fitness, mindset or energy to fish that long and hard. I can still fish the rocks for my beloved blackfish but long walks and climbs down cliffs are a thing of the past for me. I can remember as a young lad climbing into some quite dangerous LBG platforms with a heap of gear and even buckets of livebait then climbing back out with a large fish then going back to bring our gear out. I can also remember leaving Sydney at 2am, driving to Currarong, climbing into Old Man’s Hat, fishing ’til lunch time and then driving home. 

That dedication thing is different for many people. In my 20s and 30s I was driven with a passion for fishing. I’d set a goal of a certain fish and chase it as hard as I could. Nothing would be too much effort to achieve that goal. I’d do whatever was needed to catch a fish that I wanted. Early mornings, late nights, travel, money and countless hours spent fishing were all put in without a thought and to be honest I enjoyed every bit of it. Sure, there were many fishless trips but not once did I regret putting in all that effort to catch nothing. That was just a part of fishing in my book. The more effort you put in, the better your chance of success. Non anglers and less driven people would see that as an obsession or just plain madness. 

That spirit is still alive with the next generation of LBG anglers. They still get up early, climb into rock platforms in the dark, catch bait and fish all day for a marlin or tuna. Same goes for boat based sport and game anglers and even estuary based lure anglers. I get out in our local estuaries every chance I get and it’s nothing for me to fish from 6am to 4pm. I’ll sleep well that night but I’m up and keen to go again the next day if the weather permits. That dedication is just an underlying love of fishing and maybe realising that as I get older, there’ll come a day when I may not be able to do that so I grab every opportunity that I get. 

I really can’t complain. At 64 years of age I’m on several medications to help me stay alive. My left shoulder gives me a bit of grief now and then but apart from that I’m reasonably healthy. I walk a few kays most days and have a good state of mental health. Yes, I’d love to be 40 years younger but everyone grows old and eventually dies. When that time comes, I won’t have any regrets because I’ve lived life to the full and I’d like to think I’ve made a solid contribution. My advice to any fishos in their 20’s and 30’s is to grab life and have a good crack at it. Give it your best shot no matter what you do. My life motto for many years now has been – “Better to regret something you did, than something you didn’t do.”

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