From the Editor

Every month, social media takes a big old spotlight and shines it on the best and worst of our fine sport/pastime. This month, the one topic of debate that really stood out was catch and release. Now, this is an issue that is a lot less black and white than people realise. In fact, it’s greyer that Corey Parker’s sideburns.

Most of us grew up watching Rex Hunt catch and kiss fish before throwing them back and this mentality became ingrained in an entire generation. I personally believe few people have had a more positive influence on Australia’s fisheries, than Rex. How many brood-stock size fish have been returned to lay millions of eggs because they were caught by anglers who grew up watching Rex? The number would boggle your mind. However, as mentioned, there are grey areas to catch and release that go even further than considerations of barotrauma and release methods (both fitting discussion for another day).

I followed a very insightful social media post by well known and respected fishing identity Jason Wilhelm that addressed this issued insightfully. To quote Jason, “Yep, bag limits need a re-think, slot limits need to be looked at to protect brood stock, amongst other refinements, but as a wise elder statesmen of the fishing fraternity and good friend told me many years ago, the day we give up our right to catch a feed for our families, is the day PETA and a host of other extreme groups get the ammo they need to say ‘we only fish for fun’, which they then spin into ‘inflicting pain to animals’.”

Sure, no one likes it when someone posts one of those photos of their entire yard full of necked fish. You know, the ones that make you hope five of his or her mates are hiding somewhere so that it at least looks close to a legal bag… Funnily enough, these are the same blokes that will whinge that the pros are wrecking the fishery, because their marks aren’t fishing as well as they used to.

However, in moderation, I’m a big believer in keeping fish to feed my family. I love nothing more than making a salad from my garden and eating it with a big steaming mound of freshly crumbed fish that’s been caught that day! Is there anything better? If you can’t bring home a few feeds of fish for your family and feel proud, then there’s something very wrong with society.

I also noted there was quite the “discussion” regarding fishing competitions that require dead fish weigh-ins. Now, firstly I will say that fishing competitions of this nature have come a very long way. Increasingly you’ll see size limits on fish like barra, where fish over 80cm can’t be weighed. The numbers of fish that can be weighed per person has also been drastically reduced.

I will also say that comps of this nature are great for getting kids completely addicted to fishing. Having a gathering of your peers congratulate you as the weigh master takes your catch and weighs it before a hyped up crowd is a heady thing. It gets into your blood and makes you a fisher for life. Unfortunately that kind of buzz can’t easily be replicated at a catch and release competition. Without the spectacle, most anglers who know they aren’t in the running for a prize will simply hit the road, and there’s no chance of attracting crowds of non-fishers like many of the big comps do.

Personally, for me, it all comes down to waste. As long as the fish that are kept are consumed by the anglers or donated to a worthy cause, like Meals on Wheels, I can happily tolerate dead fish weigh-ins. It’s also great to see a new generation of competition organisers who are very aware of the delicate balance between creating an effective spectacle while also having a minimal impact on fish stocks.

Are dead weigh-in comps something I am interested in competing in? Not really, but I won’t put down those who do enjoy them. I must admit that for fish that do handle well and release well (usually estuary demersal species), there should always be the option for a live weigh-in if the competition organisers can arrange it cost effectively. After all, while seeing their fish weighed in is great for kids; in my opinion, seeing them weighed in and released is even better. Those are just my thoughts and opinions on the matter, so take from them what you will.

In other news, I heard from a little birdy that there has been a distinct lack of responses to the Queensland Fisheries Review. Anyone who has submitted a response will know why this is. Completing the survey (which can be found here: is not something you can do in your smoko break on your mobile phone; it requires a decent chunk of your time and some deep reading. However, as Tim points out on page 39, we won’t get a better chance at this. We fishers will happily sit at a spot for an hour waiting for the tide to kick-start a bite, but we won’t spend half an hour to complete a survey that could improve the state of our fisheries for the rest of our lives? Doesn’t make much sense does it? Take the time to have your say, before they turf the whole thing due to lack of interest. Submissions close the 31st of July. Get on it.

This month’s cover is a Graham Brake image of Wayne Keene with a thumper of a red emperor taken off Mackay on a fairly light spin combo.