Take 10 – Fisho Q&A with John Newbery

1 Name and birthplace?

John Newbery, born in Sydney, NSW

2 When did you first start fishing?

At about 5, when my old man obviously told to get me out of the house for a while. Cord line on a square cork off the old Manly Pool pier. Then at about 10, I got serious with leatherjackets, tailor and other Harbour dwellers off the old Coal Wharf.

3 When did you start writing for Fisho?

1981. Ron Calcutt accepted the first story I submitted (on Sydney rock fishing), then sent me an “encouraging” letter saying he’d like more and provided suggestions for topics and tips on photography.

4 What’s your favourite form of fishing?

I love any form of fishing that’s both visual and active, and preferably easily accessed. That’s why I still love chasing luderick, pigs and bream with bait off my local Sydney rock platforms. But I also love lure casting for just about anything whenever I get the opportunity.

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  John with a nice black jewfish.

5 What do you enjoy about writing for a fishing magazine?

I like to think that at least some of what I write or put on video may be helping lift readers’ skill levels so they’ll get even more enjoyment out of their sport. I also like to think that my features might be entertaining, and that my environment and opinion pieces might help get readers thinking critically about important issues that both impact us now and will in the future. I also quite like having a shot at lazy or condescending government decision making.

6 Who do you most admire in the fishing media and why?

Vic Mc Cristal, the best fishing wordsmith we’ve produced so far. It’s a shame he’s virtually retired. Rod Harrison, who combines irreverence and great experience to produce highly entertaining pieces. Jim Harnwell, the first Fisho editor who’s taken a fully professional approach to its publishing, who writes really well and who takes a principled stand on the big issues confronting anglers: conservation, sustainability, political bastardry….
And George Brown, who may or may not be still with us. His no-nonsense rock fishing articles back in the ’60s and ’70s inspired me to take up a pen.

7 What do you reckon is the best or most satisfying article you’ve written for Fisho?

I really enjoyed researching and writing the “40 Years of Sportfishing History” piece for the anniversary issue. In another medium, I loved fronting the recent “How to Catch Blackfish” videos for the website. And I like to think that some of my opinion pieces, particularly on bad government or bureaucratic decision making, have had some impact.

8 What camera gear do you use?

The rough old rock fishing environment is pretty hard on cameras, and I’ve gone through a few SLRs over the years. I now just use a fairly basic Canon 1000D with 28-55 and 100-300mm lenses if I know I’m going to try to get particular images for a story and carry a compact waterproof/shockproof Olympus Tough TG-1 for “opportunistic” shooting.

9 What advice can you give anyone wanting to get into the fishing media?

Clarify in your mind what sort of article you want to be your first: a technique piece, a destination piece, but probably not a “what I did on my holiday” story. Make sure you’ve got or can get photographs to support your article … it won’t get run without them. And that means, of course, learning some basic techniques beyond those needed for a mobile phone camera. Be truthful, don’t embellish what you’ve done with gross exaggeration. Don’t be too flowery or clever with your language. Think Hemingway and The Old Man and the Sea. If your first attempt is rejected, don’t despair, but find out why.

10 What’s your favourite fishing destination?

On a day-to-day basis, the rock platforms to the north and south of Sydney Harbour. When I can, the Tiwi Islands, the Kimberley, the Wessels and the upper reaches of NSW’s northern rivers.

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