Starlo puts out an interesting report that I thought you might like to read.
Uncrowded surf beaches are great places to practice a little socially-distanced fishing.
From Starlo’s Desk…
We desperately need to let the powers-that-be know we exist, that we represent a significant slice of the Australian populace, that we spend a lot of money and support a lot of jobs… and that we’re sick and bloody tired of being ignored or patronised. We want our say, and we want our share!
Have you ever felt like you’re invisible? As a keen angler, I often feel that way. Despite research consistently placing recreational fishing among the top three or four most popular outdoor activities in Australia, our sport, pastime, hobby or whatever you choose to call it hardly rates a mention in the mainstream media, and is rarely taken seriously when it is discussed. It’s as if we don’t exist, and our passion for doing what we love doesn’t count… That makes me angry.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister and others went to great lengths in their regular press conferences to spell out exactly what we could and couldn’t venture outside our homes to do. This included such seemingly esoteric niche activities as “boot camps” and something called “barre”, which the PM struggled to pronounce and I had to look up. (It’s a hybrid workout combining ballet-inspired moves with Pilates, dance, yoga and strength training, in case you’re ever faced with that question on a pub trivia night!) Yet fishing rarely, if ever, rated so much as a mention, even in passing. Boating, yep. Kayaking, sure. Surfing, yes. But fishing? Nope, never heard of it. It obviously can’t be as popular as barre!
We’ve begun fishing again on a limited basis. Steve’s first foray back to the surf produced this cracking silver trevally.
So, at the height of the social distancing lockdown, I was hardly surprised to learn that the second most commonly Googled question in Australia one week (following closely on the heels of “Can I visit my relatives?”) was “Can I go fishing?”. It seems a whole lot of folks wanted to know about this supposedly obscure pastime… even more, it turns out, than were asking about barre and boot camps! Who’d have guessed? Yet, the subject of recreational fishing continued to fly well under the media radar and was rarely, if ever, mentioned during those extensive daily briefings from state premiers, police commissioners and chief medical officers.
Even when the question of whether we could still go fishing was eventually addressed, the answers were mostly ambiguous and confusing. Apart from Victoria, that is, where the message through the height of the pandemic’s first wave was (and remains) a clear “no, you can’t”. Whatever you might think of that strict stance (and many fishers are pissed off about it), you’ve got to at least give the Victorian state government some points for clarity! I wish the same could be said of our various other jurisdictions. Their messaging has been “mixed”, to say the least.
As it turns out, limited recreational fishing (ideally close to home, with a maximum of one companion from the same household, and while maintaining strict social distancing) has continued to be tolerated in every part of Australia (except Victoria) right through the crisis. Despite this, Jo and I (along with a lot of other anglers we know) chose to hang up our rods for five weeks or so from late March, for reasons I explained in last month’s Fishotopian newsletter. We’ve only now begun to venture out again for some very limited local sorties.
This apparent “invisibility” of recreational fishing as a valuable part of Australian society is a serious problem, and not just at times of pandemic shutdown. It’s a problem because it means we too often get left out of important decision-making processes, at all levels. So, Snowy 2.0 might pump noxious redfin perch up into Lakes Tantangara, Eucumbene and Jindabyne, threatening mainland Australia’s best trout fishery? Not a problem. It’ll only impact a few funky old fishers in their tweed caps, right? And what about proposed marine parks that might stop people fishing in big chunks of our public waterways? Doesn’t really matter. They’re only fishers. Besides, you can still do barre or stage boot camps in the parks along the foreshores, right?
The possibility that Snowy 2.0 will spread redfin through our alpine dams needs to be taken seriously.
Our invisibility is a huge issue, and it’s getting worse. We desperately need to let the powers-that-be know we exist, that we represent a significant slice of the Australian populace, that we spend a lot of money and support a lot of jobs… and that we’re sick and bloody tired of being ignored or patronised. We want our say, and we want our share!
In the final analysis, the only way to achieve that goal is to demonstrate the size and importance of our sector, and the best way to do this is via indisputable facts, figures and statistics. Those mostly come from surveys, and the last proper one looking at recreational fishing nationally took place two decades ago. Luckily, there’s another one happening right now. Don’t worry: the people running it don’t want to know exactly where you fish or what you catch (such questions rightly make us nervous). Instead, they want to know what you spend, how important fishing is to you, and what you get back from being an angler. Please… do this survey now. It closes very shortly. Have your say and help give us all a voice. You can find out how here.
FISHING AFTER THE PANDEMIC
Compared with many other parts of the world, Australia has fared exceptionally well so far in the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s hope it stays that way. But, as we keep hearing, our world has changed, and it may never be quite the same again. That applies to fishing as well as every other aspect of life. But in what ways might things change?
Most anglers try to avoid crowds, and these days we have extra reasons to do so.
Gazing into my personal crystal ball, I can see five significant trends in Australian recreational fishing that I believe will far out-live the COVID-19 pandemic. Here they are:
Crowd avoidance: Most keen fishers have never been big on crowds, and I reckon our deep love of solitude and Castle-style “serenity” will only grow following the pandemic. Expect to see lots more savvy anglers fishing alone or with just one or two companions, while shunning those spots such as jetties and popular rock walls that tend to draw the big mobs.
Reduced air travel: For at least a few years, I suspect many people — anglers included — will be less keen on travelling by air, especially internationally. This may be compounded by increased airfares and reduced competition. The exceptions for Aussies might be New Zealand and our near-Pacific neighbours, who’ve come through the first wave of the pandemic well, like us. But I expect to see a lot more fishos taking local holidays and driving to their chosen destinations.
Increased emphasis on fishing for food: Shortages, queues, high prices and a reluctance to shop more often than we absolutely had to made many of us appreciate catching a feed of fresh fish even more through this pandemic than we had before it. I’m guessing this newfound respect and appreciation for the “hunter/gatherer” aspects of recreational fishing will linger after the crisis.
Efforts to reduce our reliance on imports: Expect to see a little more in the way of locally-produced tackle in coming seasons. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to extend to complex, high-volume products such as spinning reels or baitcasters, but it will definitely be reflected in more home-grown lures, flies, rods, boats, apparel and angling accessories… and that can only be a good thing!
Greater willingness to embrace science: Through the pandemic, the sources we came to trust were scientists, doctors, chief medical officers and other “experts”. We found the information coming from these people to be far more reliable than that offered by the media, politicians and “Karen on Facebook”. Hopefully, this return to a deeper respect for science, reason and logic will continue, whether it involves management of fish stocks, responses to climate change or a myriad other issues.
So yes, our world will be different after COVID-19. But in some ways, it may also be a little better. I sure hope so.
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Catch My Drift? Thoughts, reflections, insights and epiphanies that occurred to Jo this month...
“Life without fishing is no longer unimaginable. We’ve had a taste… and it’s bitter.”
As I put digit to keyboard for this editorial, I can’t help feeling like an errant Catholic in the confessional… “Forgive me, fellow fishos, for I have sinned. It’s been 40 days since my last fish and I’m finding it too hard to cope, so I snuck out and broke my promise to stand with Victoria.”
It’s been very difficult to stay abreast of the undulating temporary regulations from state to state, with some Aussie fishos managing permission to stay afloat, while others are summarily grounded. As iso restrictions slowly lift like a stubborn sea-fog, I hold Victorian anglers in my thoughts… their cloud is still thick. I do believe that there are glimpses of the horizon now, though. My fingers are crossed for good news this weekend!
I confess to feeling a little disappointed in myself. I had promised myself that I would not wet a line until all other Aussie anglers were allowed to do the same. I broke. I went for a sneaky beach fish this past week.
My rod rests in its holder as the sun sets on my first foray back to the water.
In self-reflection, I feel that it was the right thing to do. You see, I’d started losing sleep and getting really twitchy. When I did sleep, my dreams were very weird, with many being underwater.
My fishing foray (which resulted in a quality salmon off the beach) coincided with the loosening of visitation restrictions in NSW, meaning we could see our daughter for the first time since February, and congratulate her and her new fiancé on their engagement. So, a greater sense of normalcy has led to a greater sense of wellbeing… and relief from insomnia.
This doesn’t diminish the importance of my return to the water. Normalcy is an individual and personal reality. Fishing is part of life, as I know it. It’s not an “old normal”, or a “new normal”, it’s just normal!
Abstaining as we did has made me reflect on this. Anyone who knows me knows how dedicated I am to shoring up our recreational fishing future, so whilst thinking about the importance of fishing in our lives isn’t a new thing for me, I have evolved through a subtle epiphany…
I’m no longer advocating for recreational fishing from the same position. I don’t believe I need to ask people to imagine life without fishing anymore. I believe we all have a pretty real sense of how bereft our lives would feel if, indeed, we lost our right to fish. Even those Aussies lucky enough to have been able to continue fishing, albeit in a limited capacity, would be more able to see how life would be if those who abhor our sport achieve their goals of shutting us down.
Life without fishing is no longer unimaginable. We’ve had a taste… and it’s bitter.
Remember when public outcry drove off the Geelong Star? We need to recognise that we can succumb to the same power, if public sentiment turns on rec fishing.
So, this is a call to action. It is our actions as a cohort that we must be wary of. The preservationists and animal libbers who seek a cessation of fishing can only win IF they have a case against us. Their case can only be built on our own irresponsible behaviour.
We need to listen to the banshees and reflect on their criticisms. Take a look at the presentation we make to the non-fishing public… consider their perspective. With the banshees in their ears and the evidence presented from our own side (public activity, social behaviour, online posts and imagery, etc.), is our case to continue fishing in the publicly owned waterways strong?
Prior to this pandemic, many folks would probably have been very (shall we say) Australian about their feelings. I’ve copped a few “I’ll bloody do as I please”s and “they don’t own the water”s in my time… but given that we’ve all just experienced some semblance of what it might be like if we lose, I wonder if we’ll see a little more contemplation.
Am I being too optimistic to hope that the rebellious nature that our big island blood instills might be curbed towards a more strategic mindset? Probably, but I hope not.
I believe it’s incumbent on all of us to find a way to curb the defiant passion we see — whether in ourselves, or our fishing mates — so that the public face of recreational fishing in Australia is one the public actually likes… for it is the public, not the banshees, who ultimately support us, or withdraw that support. If the latter happens, we lose.
So, that call to action I mentioned… it’s this: Whenever you notice a fellow fisho displaying poor judgment, bad behaviour or irresponsibility, pull them up. Ask them if they remember what it was like when we weren’t allowed to fish. Then ask them to join us in the fight to shore up our fishing future.
Let's rally the troops... "Fish on"!
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Will you give 15-20 minutes of your time to help the National Recreational Fishing Survey account for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our fishing stats? It’s vital that they measure the impact of the pandemic on Australia’s fishing economy and how the lock-down has affected your well-being, so that the data collated in the National Recreational Fishing Survey takes these variables into consideration.
Take The Survey Now
Have You Checked In On Your Aussie Anglers Almanac Today?
Tips like this can be found throughout the public area of Fishotopia.com
Here are the rules about fishing nationwide, as they stood on 2 May, courtesy of Keep Australia Fishing and AFTA.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve devoted a great deal of our time and effort to creating, collating, assembling and disseminating information and resources intended to keep our fellow fishers sane while they’re stuck in lockdown or socially isolating at home. This has been especially important for our Victorian cousins, as well as those in other parts of the country who chose to join us in hanging up our rods for the first peak of the pandemic and staying at home right across April.
You can find all of this wonderful material, along with lots of great suggestions for lockdown activities by simply going here. We’ll keep this section going, even after the pandemic, as it has proven to be immensely popular.
NEW INNER CIRCLE CONTENT
Of course, not ALL of our newly-generated material has been pouring into the free, open section of Fishotopia.com. We’ve continued to look after our VIP Inner Circle subscription members, as well. The past few weeks have seen new Hot Spots area guides go live, along with lots of wonderful interaction on The Wall, which is our private version of a social media chat forum. This little haven has been especially welcome through a time when mainstream social media is being constantly bombed, flamed and spammed by all manner of wacky conspiracy theories, bogus cures and inflammatory posts. If you’d like to come in from the cold and sit around the metaphorical campfire with a group of like-minded fishing fanatics, you know what to do… Join up!
You may have noticed that Mako Oil have been advertising with us here in the newsletter and on Fishotopia.com since day one. We really appreciate their wonderful support… but we appreciate the amazing product they produce even more! Steve was first introduced to Mako Oil back in his days as a TV presenter for “The Offroad Adventure Show” and he quickly became a “believer”. Mako Oil now plays a vital role in all of our tackle and gear maintenance regimes, as well as many other jobs around home, and we absolutely swear by the stuff. We particularly like the fact that it seems to have no adverse impacts whatsoever on fishing lines, and that its fish-based formula means it doesn’t turn fish off biting, even if sprayed directly onto hooks, sinkers and lures… in fact, it might even attract them!
You can watch Starlo’s video explainer about Mako Oil and its many uses by clicking the play button above, or cut to the chase and view a shorter, how-to clip describing our regular after-trip tackle maintenance routine here.
Honey Holes & Hot Spots
Cape York Sitting atop the bucket list of many an adventurous angler is Cape York, But get a few things wrong and it’s possible to miss out on the best action, even in this tropical paradise.
That’s why we’ve put together this D.I.Y. Cape trip planner in order to avoid potential disappointment during your dream trip.
Members can CLICK HERE to get the good oil on starting to plan their breakout trip to the Tip.
Enjoy A BEER WITH STARLO
With ISO barring beers with buddies, we haven't been able to blow the froth off a yarn or two for some months, so we thought we'd flash back to an episode that’s available to everyone. In this one, Matt Tripet enjoys A Beer With Starlo as they retrace the paths trodden to create one of Australian fishing’s favourite good-news stories — The Fly Program. Grab yourself a coldie, settle back and click the image above, so you too can enjoy A Beer With Starlo.
Putting The Boot In
Correct choice of fishing footwear is critical, especially for anglers who like to hike the back country or wade in our freshwater rivers and lakes. We’ve used a bunch of different boots and waders over the years, but in recent times we’ve settled on the Simms range as our go-to favourites. For the past year or so, Steve’s been putting a pair of their aptly-named Flyweight Wading Boots through their paces, and so far he’s impressed by how well they perform. If you’re in the market for some new wading boots, click the image above to watch a short clip about the Flyweights, or read Starlo’s more detailed review here.
USE YOUR ISO TIME TO LEARN TO TIE FLIES!
Learning to tie flies is a wonderful pastime. The satisfaction of catching a fish on a fly you’ve tied yourself never leaves you! In this period of isolation, there’s never been a better time to pick up this fulfilling skill. Our friends at The Essential Flyfisher have a Wapsi fly tying kit that has everything you need to get started. It’s a beginners’ fly tying starter kit put together by one of the world’s leading suppliers of fly tying materials.
Easy step-by-step instructions.
All the materials to tie 100s of different flies, including bead head flies, beetles, ants, woolly buggers, scuds, spinners, caddis and nymphs.
Fly tying vice and tools included.
Comes with Wapsi Booklet and the good people at The Essential Flyfisher have added a BONUS Australian fly tying book, “Pursuit of Fly Tying” by George Rowney, valued at $30.
Total cost is only $220 and includes postage.
You’ll also receive the current edition of Tasmanian Fishing and Boating News, FREE!
Fly On The Wall
The Clubhouse Wall is our Inner Circle Members’ private forum. This section of our monthly newsletter highlights some of the topics discussed in our virtual “Clubhouse” over the past month. The above collection of pics has been collated from some of our favourite posts of late. Topics of interest have included:
• staying sane during lock down
• honouring our Anzacs
• carp on fly
• hand gathering yabbies for tucker
• heritage tackle & fishing history
Fishotopia’s happy band of Inner Circle members enjoy unlimited access to a constantly growing library of articles, e-books, videos, reviews and area guides. But now non-members can also access a few hand-picked gems from this treasure trove of fishing knowledge.
We’re now offering for sale at a very reasonable price three complete e-zines (they’re actually more like e-books) focussing on three different species: mulloway, flathead and golden perch or yellowbelly. More titles are also on their way.
Each of these e-books is highly detailed and information packed, and several contain embedded video clips to further clarify the how-to training process. We think they represent incredibly good value for money, and we urge you to check them out. Inner Circle members can go straight to the shelves of the Fisho’s Library here, while everyone else can shop for these exclusive on-line publications at the link below.
Want to read one of the Tight Lines titles, but don’t want to become a member of Starlo’s Inner Circle? Good news! All three issues of Tight Lines Magazine — Mulloway Mania, Chasing Unicorns and On Golden Ponds — are now available for sale.
Click the button below...
Follow this link to buy your ebook now
Grab yourself a rare copy of Steve Starling’s FISHING WITH SOFT PLASTICS
Written in 2009 at the very height of the soft plastic “revolution”, and at a time when Starlo was the high profile co-designer and promoter of the country’s most famous brand, this book remains the definitive text on soft plastic fishing in all Australian waters: salt and fresh. No longer in print and keenly sought-after on the second-hand market, this is your unique opportunity to obtain a mint-condition, unread and signed copy at a never-to-be-repeated price! Just $49.50 each, which includes the author’s signature as well as postage, packaging and handling to anywhere in Australia (not available to international residents). But hurry… there are only THREE copies of this highly collectible book left!
WOULD YOU LIKE TO ADVERTISE IN THIS NEWSLETTER? Our readers are enthusiastic, thinking anglers from all over the country.
If you have a product or service that benefits them, let’s tell them about it! Advertising spaces are limited. CLICK FOR MEDIA KIT & MORE INFORMATION
Until we see you in Fishotopia...
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