Learn English while learning about daily life in Australia, with Rob McCormack
Podcast Number 74 – Gone Fishing
Australia has around 47,000 kilometres of coastline, so it is no wonder that recreational fishing is popular. In fact, it is estimated that more than 5 million Australians have fishing as one of their hobbies. In this podcast, I would like to tell you a little about this very popular pastime in Australia and my experiences, such as they are, as a recreational fisherman.
Fishing is one of those pastimes which you can do from your childhood, right through your adult life and into your old age. You don’t have to be rich to participate and wherever you live in Australia, there is usually a place nearby where you can go fishing.
The main place to fish is of course the sea. Most Australians live near the coast so that means they have ready access to a coastal fishing spot. There is also some river and lake fishing which people enjoy, which is in freshwater. On balance however, it is fishing on our coastline which is most popular.
The most common fish caught on our coastline and in bays and inlets on the coast include snapper, King George whiting, flathead, bream, Australian salmon, flounder and tailor. I can remember getting my first fishing rod when I was about 8 years old. It was made out of fibreglass. I still have it today. It had a small fishing reel attached which held the fishing line. I can remember practising how to cast in my back yard, without a hook attached of course. My Uncle Bob taught me how to rig it up with a hook and sinker.
I used to go fishing with him down near the wharf in my home town of Bunbury in Western Australia. We fished off the rock breakwater early in the morning and we caught tailor most often. I used to go and stay at his place overnight so we could get up around 5.00am and get to the water early when the fish were biting. We would then fish for 3 or 4 hours. He was in his late 60s at the time and he taught me a lot about fishing. I have very fond memories of my Uncle Bob and I was very sad when he passed away in his early 80s.
Those fishermen who are more serious about catching big fish will usually buy or hire a bigger boat to go a bit further away from the coast to those spots only the real fishing experts know about. http://www.deepseacharters.com.au/. Personally, I only had one experience of that type of fishing. When I was a young man, I had a work colleague called David whose father had a large 8 metre long power boat which could go off the coast a kilometre or so. One year in my early twenties I went on a fishing trip with them in their boat off the coast of Western Australia near the town of Geraldton. We went out a kilometre or so off the coast to a place where David’s father knew there were good fish to catch. We did catch some bigger fish, but I also got terribly sea sick. I got so weak from being sea sick, that when I finally had a big fish on the end of my line, I could not pull it into the boat. It is interesting that I was the only one who got sea sick on that boat. David and his father didn’t get sick at all and they thought it was hilarious when I went a pale colour and started throwing up over the side of the boat. After that I decided I would only fish from a jetty, from the rocks by the harbour or from the beach. No more fishing off boats in the ocean for me.
Fishing can be a cheap pastime. Nowadays, there is a small licence fee which you may have to pay in order to go fishing. This fee varies a little depending on which Australian state you live in. I live in Victoria and if you are under 18 or aged 70 or over, you don’t have to pay. However, if you are aged between 18 and 69 you have to pay for a recreational fishing licence which costs around $66 a year. Alternatively, you can buy a licence for just 2 days or for just a month and it is much cheaper. So even with the cost of a recreational fishing licence, fishing is still a cheap hobby. All you need is a line, perhaps a fishing rod, some sinkers and hooks to put on the end of the line and some bait. I like to use prawns as my bait. You also need a bucket, just in case you do catch any fish and a ruler to measure any fish you catch. All these things, including a recreational fishing licence, can be bought at one of the many fishing tackle shops which you will find in any coastal town in Australia.
It’s also important to know that there are bag limits on how many fish you can catch for each type of fish. For example, in Victoria, unless otherwise specified, the limit is 5 fish per day per person. However for the more common varieties of fish such as tailor or flathead, the bag limit is usually 20 fish. There are also restrictions on the size of the fish you can catch and keep. If the fish is too small, you have to throw it back. For example, a tailor must be at least 23 cms long and a flathead must be at least 27 cms long. When I was a boy, I can’t remember any rules like that, but I guess nowadays these rules are necessary so that we don’t over-fish our stocks of fish in the ocean and our coastal bays. If we do, then there will be no fish to catch in the future and that would be a disaster for everyone, both now and for future generations. All the rules about recreational fishing in Victoria can be found in the Victorian Guide to Recreational Fishing, which is free on line. Just do a Google search. (See http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/fisheries/recreational-fishing/recreational-fishing-guide). Every Australian state has similar rules about recreational fishing.
By the way, these rules are enforced by Fisheries Officers who visit fishing areas and do spot checks regarding bag limits and recreational fishing licences. There are substantial fines if you don’t follow the rules.
As long as you follow the rules however, fishing can be a great hobby. The thing I like most is the possibility that, in the next second, or the next minute, you could get that strong tug on your line which tells you that a fish is down there nibbling at your bait. Expecting and then getting that next bite is what fishing is all about.
If you have a question or a comment to make, please leave it in the comments box at the bottom of this page. Or, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you. Tell me where you live, a little bit about yourself and what you think of my Slow English podcast. I will write back to you, in English of course. If you would like to take a short quiz to see if you have understood this podcast, you will also find it on my website. Goodbye until next time.
Podcast 74 Quiz - Did you understand the podcast?
You can take the quiz as many times as you like.
alternatively = another way
attached = when something is held or connected to something else
bait = some food (usually meat) which you put on your hook in order to catch a fish
bays = circular areas of the sea which are sheltered from the wind
biting = when an animal or human eats food with their teeth
cast = when you use your fishing rod to throw out the end of your fishing line
coastline = where the sea meets the land
depending = when one thing changes because of something else
disaster = when something really bad happens
enforced = when someone else tells you that you must do something
estimated = when you guess something
fibreglass = a strong material made from chemicals and glass fibres
fishing rod = a long stick which holds a fishing line, usually made from fiberglass
fishing tackle = hooks, sinkers, fishing rods, etc. Things you need to catch fish
fond = happy
freshwater = water without salt. For example, in a river or inland lake
future generations = your children and their children
jetty = a type of bridge which goes out into the water. You can walk on it or you can tie a boat up to it
hilarious = very, very funny
hobbies = things you like to do in your free time
hook = a piece of bent metal with a sharp point put onto the end of fishing line – used to catch a fish
inlets = an area of water usually at the mouth of a river
nibbling = biting
on balance = when you consider all points in the discussion
pale = when a colour is very light
participate = to do something with other people
pastime = hobby
ready access = you can easily find something
recreational = when you do something for fun, you do not get paid
reel = a tube around which you wind fishing line, with a handle
regarding = about
restrictions = things you are not allowed to do
rig = to put a sinker and a hook on your fishing line
rock breakwater = a man made jetty made out of rocks – to keep waves away from a harbour
ruler = a straight piece of wood or plastic which shows how long something is
sea sick = when you feel sick from the rocking of a boat on the ocean
sinker = a heavy weight made from lead, used to make your fishing line sink in the water
spot = place
spot checks = when someone checks to see if you are following the rules. They don’t tell you that they are coming to do the check
stocks = amounts
substantial = large
such as they are = not very good (an expression)
terribly = very badly
throwing up = to vomit, to bring up the food in your stomach (not pleasant!)
tug = when something pulls at you
unless otherwise specified = means that you can assume something (literally – only if something different is written down)
varies = changes
varieties = types
wharf = a type of jetty for big ships in a port