REVIEW: Blackfish: A Fisherman’s Journey


BLACKFISH: A Fisherman’s Journey is a thoroughly intriguing documentary that tells the story of the blackfish, or luderick, and its place in Australian fishing history and folklore. The film follows the blackfish as it is discovered by early European settlers right through to the cult following that this iconic species still retains on the East Coast today, and travels from the trout streams of colonial England through to the early settlement days in Sydney Harbour and tougher times like the depression where luderick fishing was actually an important survival tool.

As many normal (non-luderick) fishos would know, there is much more to catching this species than we understand. The film explores these concepts and provides good insight into what makes a luderick fisho so resolute in their pursuit of a single fish. These links go way back to coarse and fly fishing in England and Australia and have also managed to transcend the class divide at a time when very few things did, and it still does today.

Filmmaker John Morrell has gathered an incredible amount of historical information, photographs and paraphernalia that adds significant credibility to the fascinating story that he tells. Added to this are several interviews with veteran luderick fishos, some of who were fishing during periods where catching fish was the difference between eating and not eating. The historical angle is where this film will really captivate viewers and it not only gives the film a vintage feel, but also provides genuine insight into the fascinating socio-economic history associated with the blackfish in this country.

In the end Blackfish: A Fisherman’s Journey is a well told story that is sure to be popular with the pencil float brigade, and there is plenty there for regular fishermen too. As mentioned above the vintage feel of this film achieved through interviews and collection of information and artefacts is what this film is all about. If you’re after non-stop fishing action then this film isn’t for you, but what this film lacks in heart-stopping fishing action, it makes up for with a genuinely brilliant and intriguing storyline that most fishos will find entertaining.

Available on Vimeo for $2.90 to rent or $5.90 to buy.

Blackfish: A Fisherman’s Journey from John Morrell on Vimeo.

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