Home' Afloat : AFLOAT April 2016 Contents 38 AFLOAT.com.au April 2016
When Dave Gaden from Reel
Time Fishing Charters takes his
customers out to the Solitary
Islands Marine Park, he guarantees fish.
It’s here where the East Australian
Current, made famous when portrayed
as an underwater superhighway in the
animated film Finding Nemo, intersects
with the temperate oceanographic region
to the south, so these waters are blessed
with a diverse and abundant mixture of
tropical and cold water species. Snapper,
cobia, pearl perch, yellowtail kingfish and
jewfish – they are all on the hit-list.
Gaden’s day trips from Yamba Marina
include all fishing gear and bait, lunch,
plenty of knowledgeable advice and a tall
tale or two. You’ll also get to take home
your fair share of the catch.
At 6am I hop aboard for the inaugural
Bob Gaden Memorial Veterans Day, a
complimentary deep sea fishing trip for
former diggers in honour of Gaden’s late
“Dad was a returned serviceman who
fought in Korea and he taught me how to
fish,” says Gaden. “He loved his fishing,
shooting and everything to do with the
“I don’t think returned servicemen in
this country are treated with the respect
they should be. The reason I get to live
the way I live and do the things I do, like
A fishing trip dad
would be proud of
take people fishing for a living, is because
of these guys.
“ Dad passed away December before last
and he would’ve loved this idea.
“Obviously the veterans get together at
the pub on Anzac Day. But that’s a different
environment when they’re thinking about
their lost mates and there’s a million
“ Whereas out here they can get together
with a common interest of fishing and just
have a bloody yarn.”
The Clarence River gleams like liquid
mercury on the ripples in the half-light
of dawn as Gaden steers us beyond the
entrance, whereupon he turns the boat
southeast and makes a beeline out to sea.
Most of the men have never met, but by
the time the sun creeps over the horizon
they are already trading war stories like
long lost mates.
Returned servicemen of all eras
answered Gaden’s call, from 95-year-old
Second World War veteran Don Campbell
to Ian McKay, who was on board destroyer
HMAS Voyager on the fateful night of
February 10, 1964 when it collided with
aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, killing 82
of 314 on board.
Youngest of the troops is Warren
Fitzgerald, 41, a veteran of several tours to
Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a keen angler.
However, most are novices simply out to
share a yarn with like-minded blokes, such
as Tullymorgan ostrich farmer Ian Gardum,
67, who admits it isn’t his fishing ability that
has lured him on deck.
“I can only fish in the fish and chip
shop,” he quips.
Oyster Cove resident Ken Winters is
another whose wife suggested it would be
a good idea when she spotted a story in
“ What a great thing Dave’s done,”
Winters says. “His dad would be very proud.”
“ We’re men who’ve shared the same
experience over a lot of years and can talk
about things you can’t talk about with
Gaden eases the throttle from top
speed roar down to idle purr. He navigates
his boat through the monotonous seascape
to specific locations on his GPS with a
familiarity of the backstreets of Yamba.
Over the years he has named and marked
in excess of 50 favourite hotspots and today
our first stop is a reef coined ‘Trag South’.
Sure enough, the fish finder monitor is
“ Let ’em go,” he booms.
At once the reels are let loose. Even
before the frantic chorus of spinning line
stops, the first 42cm flathead is hauled
Gaden duly marks down the catch on
a table beside one of nine names. And
with a cursory glance from side to side,
the veterans realise that for the next six
hours, it’s game on.
* William North is a freelance journalist living
on the NSW North Coast.
by William North*
War veteran and novice fisherman Ian
Gardum shows a couple of small bream
caught at the same time during the 2015
Bob Gaden Memorial Veterans Day.
Reel Time Fishing Charters proprietor Dave Gaden (at back) threw a free fishing trip for
returned servicemen in honour of his late father, Bob Gaden.
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