The Healthiest Addiction
Lockdown for many was a rare opportunity to hone some new skills and make the most of the daily exercise quota, all within the confines of our beautiful five kilometre radius. For some it was the Bondi to Bronte walk, for others it was yoga, but for myself and many other like-minded individuals it was the perfect excuse to wet a line. With Australia being surrounded by ocean and an abundance of plentiful estuaries, it’s no surprise that fishing is one of our most popular pastimes.
On a standard night out at the pub, when faced with the looming reality of a 5am rise to go fishing, it isn’t too uncommon for people to ask me, “Why do you do it to yourself?”
Why do people go fishing? For some, it’s merely an excuse to take a break from the family, to go down to the local wharf with a few beers and watch time roll by as a servo-bought prawn defrosts in the harbour’s sparkling waters. For others, fishing is a full-blown obsession involving painstaking research – a meticulous study of the wind, tides, barometers and a whole lot more – and a $150,000 boat packed with enough gear to rival a commercial fleet. Myself? I fall somewhere in the middle, depending on how I’m feeling and who I’m with, but still enjoying it equally nonetheless.
One minute I could be sitting in my tinnie in the harbour sipping away at a beer and cranking some tunes while I dangle a live squid over the side, pure bliss and not a worry in the world. A split second later and I can find myself engaged in hand-to-hand combat with a wild animal weighing nearly as much as me, without knowing what it is until the beast has been wrangled to the boatside.
I am hooked (sorry) on that feeling of eternal anticipation that my very next cast could result in the once-in-a-lifetime trophy fish I dream about. And the only way to find out is to get out there and put in the hours. Of course, at the end of each session you can come back to your family with the freshest, most organic produce there is.
Unlike other sports where the year is organised into on- and off-seasons, fishing can be enjoyed throughout the entire calendar. With a bit of knowledge and basic research you can discover different techniques, species and locations that enable you to get your fix. November is a transitional month that sees many anglers come out of their winter hibernation and begin their season of summer fishing. For me, winter was spent in the upper reaches of Sydney Harbour chasing the big spawning kingfish (pictured).
Right now, the East Australian Current is beginning to hurtle its way down our coast, bringing with it warm water and a whole host of species. Smaller kings, affectionately known as ‘rats’, and a range of pelagic species become more prolific in the harbour at this time of year. Beach fishing for whiting and bream also heats up, with fresh beach or blood worms usually being the best baits (Wahyu from Global Tackle in Kingsford sells them by the tub).
Now that you’ve had an insight into the mind of a mad (keen) fisherman, it’s time for you to get out there and catch some fish. If you’re just starting out, grab yourself a set-up from your local tackle store to get you going. A rod in the 6-8 foot range with a 2500-3000 size spinning reel loaded with 8-15lb line is a great place to start and will cover you for both bait and lure fishing for your bread and butter species like flathead, bream, whiting and trevally. Wahyu will sort you out, but around $250 will get you something versatile that will last a lifetime.
Be warned though, this stuff is highly addictive and you may soon find that you have acquired a small tackle store of your own. If you’re anything like myself, the Comptons or The Beast magazine publisher James, you will soon become very familiar with the local tackle store and need to seek professional help. Good luck and tight lines!