Home' Afloat : September 2013 Contents 52 AFLOAT.com.au September 2013
ON THE WATER
with David Lockwood
Regular readers of Afloat -- and
judging by my inbox there are many
of you -- will have noticed a change
on this page. Our regular monthly fishing
wrap and forecast, with accompanying
coded map, has gone the way of the
thylacine. But no matter. In its place is
this broad-based column reflecting the
inordinate amount of time I have spent on
the water, messing about in boats, fishing
from them, dipping the oars, starting the
motor, even setting sail.
As an ode to our outgoing fishing-
report column, I thought I'd kick things
off with a few words about that past-
time. After all, more than 70 per cent of
respondents to government and industry
questionnaires about the reasons for
buying a new boat state that fishing is the
primary motivation. Fishing has even been
credited with keeping the hard-hit marine
industry afloat. Estimates say there are
four to five million anglers in Australia.
That's some fire power.
From when I cut my teeth, catching
yellowtail with Nanna from Rose Bay
Wharf, things have morphed. Technology
has irrevocably changed the face of
recreational fishing. That's hardly a
revelation -- about the only sport left
untouched these days is bocce -- but
such is the pace of the change you can
be left dangling like a Luddite if you don't
Where anglers once struggled to
cast a light lure or unweighted bait,
today we use the latest high-tech reels,
carbon-fibre rods and braided lines to
hit a distant target with the deftness of
William Tell. And a whole new world of
remarkably life-like plastic lures -- they
look good enough to serve up on Good
Friday -- have supplanted the long-dead
peeled prawn, WA pilchard or mullie and
that crook imported squid.
Lure fishing is an active pursuit, a
sport, rather than a passive recreation
enjoyed by Norm with a beer in hand. That
free, while live fish and bait wells add to
the utility for catch and release anglers.
Thankfully, you don't need to win
the lottery to join the boat-fishing set.
Less than $10,000 buys a tinnie, while a
few thousand puts you aboard the latest
fishing-orientated kayaks. Keep fit as
you cast the lines on our stellar inshore
fisheries. Following big rains, anglers are
enjoying the best estuary fishing seasons
in many years and a whole new generation
has been born into the estuary lure-fishing
craze that simply wasn't around when I
was a minnow.
But a lure of a different kind, that of the
wide blue yonder, forever holds sway. For
this reason, plate-aluminium sportfishers
from 5-7 metres in length are coveted by
those chasing big tuna and marlin to post
on their peer-approved forums. Beyond the
utility of alloy, fibreglass rules the waves.
You get greater comforts, sophistication
and a more dignified ride from a heavier
moulded hull with sharp wave-cutting vee.
Now the dollars are flowing.
From the debut new fishing boats
from much-loved local Haines Signature
and Haines Hunter yards to the imported
Yankee sportfishers with $100,000-plus
sticker tickets, there's a lot of hot fishing
boat coveting your money these days. But
if money isn't an object then the gung-ho
game-fishing boats from Cabo and Hatteras
are hard to beat. You can pay more than a
million before even wetting the lines.
Between the big fishing fleet and
the smart fish-finding gadgetry, there's
plenty to keep you busy on the water. In
fact, with interest rates so low it could be
argued there's no better time for buying
a boat, loading it up with new kit, and
hitting the water. Just like shooting fish
in a barrel. Well, no. There's the rub. Fish
are still fish and, often, they outsmart us
Contact the writer at david.lockwood@bigpond.
reality is making fishing more appealing to
the younger generation with their fleeting
attention spans. The biodegradable
brands of soft-plastic lures appeal to
their ethics, as does catch-and-release
fishing ... following photos, video and
live Facebook and blog brag postings.
No more walking in the door looking like
a drowned rat to the universal question:
"owd'ya go? " The world already knows.
Just beware the photo background giving
away your secret spots.
And consider the evolution of those
fish-finding devices. Depth sounders
and side scanners can paint a picture
of the bottom and submerged banks
on the screen with the accuracy of a
hydrographical survey. Units using digital
processing such as the CHIRP system
from Raymarine are so accurate that
during testing on Pittwater of a wreck they
revealed minute detail like the lifelines
between the bow rail and deck.
Add the latest stealthy propulsion
systems like electric bow-mounted motors
and you can ambush the fish, find them,
and cast to them with your finely-honed
armoury. Then the real fight begins. Rods
and reels costing upwards of $1,000 aren't
uncommon. Carbon fibre poles are de
rigueur and where three ball-bearings was
impressive today's reels might have up
to a dozen. This way they deliver hitherto
new levels of fine-machinery performance
akin to what you get from a Swiss watch.
Answering anglers' wishes, and
relegating the backyard fitup to something
of a lost art, is the new class of purpose-
built fishing boat. Designed to catch more
than just the prospective new owner,
Australian-made fishing boats figure
prominently on our waterways. Quintrex,
Stacer, Savage and Brooker are among
those turning their ho-hum tinnies into
finely honed fish-catching machines.
Cathedral-like or flat-bottom hulls provide
stability for casting, out-of-the-way
underfloor storage keeps the decks snag-
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