After watching this video of Australian fishermen, excuse me, “Land-Based Game Fishermen” Aaron Briggs and his mate "Cavy," I was blown away. Now, I like to fish, but my idea of fishing is a six-pack of beer, a salt-crusted rod and reel, and a beat-up paddleboard tied up to some kelp. If I land a fish, great, if not, big deal—Seaside Market has Yellowfin tuna already fileted and ready for purchase five minutes from my house.
So these guys put me, the average fisherman, to shame. Can you imagine scaling cliffs to get to your spot? How about hopping off the rocks and into shark-infested waters to retrieve a lure? GrindTV caught up with 30-year-old Briggs (the guy with the Mohawk in the video) from the MorningTide Fishing crew to get some insight into their adventurous style of fishing …
Where in Australia do you guys usually fish?
We fish the East Coast of Australia—New South Wales to northern Queensland. I can’t tell you where we’re from exactly because of the location issue; we spin our local ledges and have to keep good relationships with the local land-based “fishos.” It’s pretty heavy actually; land-based fishermen are super protective of their spots and can get violent if you give anything away.
Do you guys always practice catch and release like we saw in the video?
We almost always release our fish. The exception being if they are too hurt to swim off, or we're starving! Nowadays we can usually just tell by looking at them if they are strong enough to survive. Australia has ridiculous bag limits that need to be changed … and that's just talking about recreational fishing—I don't even want to think about the pros.
What’s the biggest fish you’ve reeled in off the rocks?
I’d say my best was a 15-kilogram tuna. Cavy's might have been a touch bigger, like 18 kilos. To be honest we’ve lost our biggest hook ups. It’s heart breaking—and the ones that got away will haunt us for the rest of our lives!
How do you land tuna that close to shore? Aren't they a pelagic fish that is usually found further out to sea?
We've surfed since we were little groms, and many times in the summer have noticed tuna smashing bait around us really close to shore. At most headlands that stick out further than where waves are breaking, I guarantee pelagic fish will come by at the right time of year.
Why do you guys jump into the water? Snagged?
We jump in when a fish has run us into reef but we’re still connected to the fish. That has to be one of the worst feelings in fishing—where if you tighten up you're going to snap your line, and if you leave it loose, you’re going to get spooled. So we try and detach the line. … It hasn’t worked yet but we’ll do whatever it takes to land a good fish. Also, if you snap the line at that point the fish swims off with 50 meters of garbage attached to it!
To put that into perspective, we’ll concede a $30 lure to the rocks; it's not worth the risk. But if there's still a chance of landing the fish—we’ll jump in. The last nine or 10 times I’ve gone fishing I’ve not had a proper hook up—that would be 60 hours of spinning without a hit! So you can see when we do hook up how much is riding on that fish. It’s like the culmination of every hour you’ve stood there spinning for nothing, packed into that one hook-up—they mean the world to us!
You ever think about wearing helmets or any other kind of safety gear?
We’re pretty comfortable in the water. If one day we push it too far, that’s how it goes. But for the most part a wetsuit is all we use safety-wise. The whole life vest argument has popped up a few times for us since releasing the video, and our take on life vests is they are amazing if you can’t swim, but would be very dangerous for us because, well, what’s the first thing you do if a set’s going to land on your head? Dive as deep as you can and swim out past it! The last thing we want is to be unable to swim under waves. A helmet maybe a good idea though!
Why not just use a skiff to get where you want to fish?
We see boats like cheating [laughs]. We used to fish off of a kayak, but once we worked out how to land good fish off the rocks we never looked back. It’s so much more difficult, and the feeling of landing a fish off the stones is so much better than off a boat! Like proper life achievement stuff [laughs].
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