The tide has begun to turn for rock fishers around WA, with leaders in the land based fishing community taking personal responsibility and paving the road for future generations that grace the stones.
Rock fishers over the years have built a reputation for themselves and against all reason it’s not for the good of the recreation. Rock fishing is dangerous. The risks involved in fishing from unstable, high energy and dynamic coastlines are almost unsurpassed in the fishing world. There’s just so many things that can go wrong, but still the desire remains for those die-hard, happy-go-lucky thrill-seekers that are land based gamers.
What’s new is that rock fishers aren’t just accepting the inherent dangers as fate, and are taking a stand to put personal responsibility and safety first. With the help of Recfishwest, State and Local Government and community groups, over 30 Rock Bolts and more than 40 Angels Rings (Life Rings) have been installed at popular, high risk fishing locations state-wide. Most importantly though has been the advent of new compact, light-weight and practical, self-inflating fishing PFDs (Life Jackets).
The days of bulky and impractical life jackets are gone with new jackets folding down to not much bigger than a foot-long sub! Easy to pack, wear or clip on to your backpack, they have become an essential item in the artillery of any serious land based fisher.
Conditions while fishing the rocks are unpredictable. You never can know when something may go wrong or if help will be around, but when your lifeline is strapped to your chest the whole time you have that extra vote of confidence. Whether activated or not if you go in the water, having the option of a PFD ready to back you up and to take your time in the event of a rescue is crucial in saving lives.
50 years ago seat belts in cars were viewed as an optional extra and personal safety neglected, left to the hands of fate. Years from now rock fishers will view PFDs in the same way with modern products beginning to gain further awareness in fishing circles.
Other states around Australia have brought in mandatory rock fishing PFD laws which brings with it a whole new set of challenges, and whilst WA has not felt the pinch yet to make this a requirement, rock fishing champions and pioneers of the rock fishing scene in WA have taken the initiative to stand for the cause.
After witnessing the impacts of his brother being swept into the ocean on a rough day in Albany, rock fishing identity Chris Dixon says he “wont fish the rocks without a PFD”. A simple rule he has adopted is “if you cannot safely and easily land a big fish in the given conditions, you don’t fish.”
Evidence of this shift in behaviour and rock fishing safety attitude was exemplified in the recent Land-Based Life Jacket Photo Competition run by Recfishwest. It’s not just overly cautious amateurs to the rock fishing scene that are adopting fishing PFDs but the seasoned veterans of the stones who have seen the first hand dangers of rock fishing.
Many who have witnessed or experienced tragedy and close calls will tell you just how important it is to be wearing a PFD at all times in the case of an unforseen accident. It only takes one slip, momentary lapse or a rogue surge to sweep you off your feet and into the water. In the panic that ensues amongst the white water of a large set of waves, the safety net of a PFD allows you to rationalise and swim to open water, away from danger, before inflating the jacket and waiting for a break in the waves for a sensible rescue attempt.
A total of 90 quality photos were entered over the 3 month summer period of the competition. The photos demonstrate a powerful message in the prevalence of safe rock fishing and the entrants can stand as proud ambassadors for responsible rock fishing in WA.
The decision was tough with so many quality entries but the winning photo for the grand prize was taken out by Nhadier Addala. The winning photo was an early entrant in the competition and demonstrates a quality land based capture whilst clearly displaying the ease and comfort of modern fishing PFDs. The photo was only one of many entries by Nhadier whose embodiment of rock fishing safety is evident over a lengthy rock fishing pursuit and for which he is strongly commended.
Nhadier recieved the ultimate land based fishing package consisting of a Shimano Stella 5000sw sponsored by Tackle HQ, 60lb Tasline Elite braid and an Ultimate LBG Gaff sponsored by Busted Fishing and an Assassin Spin rod sponsored by Assassin Tackle Australia.
Runner up prizes of 3x Shimano Surf and Turf rods were won by Daniel Kear, Bryan Liwanag and Mitchell Palmer and 3x Shimano Wanderer rods won by Matt Lichon, Ashley Brown and Julian Graziani sponsored by Getaway Outdoors.
Further prizes of 6 lure packs sponsored by Halco Tackle were awarded to Tyler Hewson, Luke Van Dongen, Jakob Maciaszek, Jake Poad, Ryan Bradley and Cody Burr.
Winners of the one year subscriptions to Western Angler magazine for the random Facebook share prize were Daniel Carter, Cameron Bucar, Storm Willz Murphy, Manna Stanley, Brett Wiltshire, Seamus Ean Jones, Daryl Harris, Nathan Ingate, Farshad Monshizadeh and Paul Hart.
Thanks and a special mention goes out to all other entrants, may you continue to stand for safe rock fishing in WA. Thanks also to the sponsors of the prizes, both for supporting rock fishing safety and for without whom this competition would not have been possible.
Lastly, a big acknowledgment to local WA rock fishing champion Chris Dixon, for providing inspiration and helping to organise the competition. Thanks also to Aron Dixon and Fabio Varrone from Fab’s Fishing & Tours for providing PFD fishing images for competition promotion.
View all of the photo comp entries here.