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Fish Tales at the Pub

Fish Tales at the Pub

Here’s the scene: It’s Friday afternoon at the local pub. Happy hour schooners are flowing as freely as the stories of the week’s adventures. A congregation of seasoned fishermen, telling tales of the trips they have recently taken, have acquired most of the elbowroom at the bar. An outburst of raucous laughter and cheering sings through the rafters as one tells of the massive catch he brought home that day. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” scoffs one patron, shaking his head in disbelief. “I kid you not my friend, it was this big!” replies the storyteller.

Now, not so long ago, this story would have continued with the fisherman opening his arms wide, hands flattened to emulate an invisible yet highly precise measuring devise. It would then be up to the listener as to whether or not they would choose to believe the smiling storyteller, a smug grin spreading across his well-sunned face. But not today. Today the storyteller whips out his phone, and proves in seconds the gloriousness of his latest catch – a 10.25kg snapper that would easily satisfy a large, hungry family, and still have lunchtime leftovers. Today, through technology, we are instantly accountable for both our wins and our losses.

The introduction of mobile phones and having technology at our fingertips have been a game changer within the local boating community. Or has it? Has it really changed things that much? In terms of GPS tracking, Google Earth mapping availability, and being able to research conditions in an instant, then the answer is yes, it has. But has it changed where we source the most valuable information? I caught up with three Gold Coast locals to talk fishing, bait and beers at the place where all honest fishing talk takes place – the local pub.

For more than 40 years, Ray, John and Max have on a weekly basis, been up before the sparrows, making a beeline for the seaway to head roughly 30km off shore, away from the Gold Coast hustle and into the glorious big blue. For about 40 years also, these three avid fishermen have been rounding out their days on the water with a few amber ales at the local pub. This is where the day’s accounts are retold, bragging rights are fulfilled, and the banter is aplenty. If you are looking for genuine information, these are people you want to talk to, and this is place to do it.

“If you’re a stranger in town, if you talk to the right people, you can learn a lot in the pub.” This is followed by some sheepish laughter. “Some can send you in the wrong direction. And yes, some fishermen do keep closely guarded secrets, Spot X, and what not. But generally, you can get a lot of local knowledge at the pub.” Essentially, if you have a keen interest and are respectful, the locals are happy to share some great tips with you. This information being much more thorough and precise than anything you can find online. In fact, Ray was adamant that you should never trust the fishing reports – ever.

When I asked them if they had ever gone online to research fishing spots or to source any new information, I was met with blank faces, before being told, “I haven’t got a line to go on!” It became apparent that the only lines we would be talking about were fishing lines.

Admittedly, one might use GPS and some electronics to find where the fish may be plentiful, but it still comes down to local knowledge. Even after 40 odd years, these guys are still finding new spots, new goldmine areas within areas they have known about for years. As Ray puts it, “You’ll learn something new every time you go out. Well, you should,” giving a definitive nod. All the electronics in the world will still not help you actually catch the fish. It all comes down to experience, to dedicating the time, and to be continuously learning.

The camaraderie between these three is wonderful, and I quickly realise that this is far from a rare occurrence within the fishing community. “If we go somewhere new on a fishing trip, the first thing we do is find the right pub. Then, we find the right people to talk to.”

You can have all the fandangle equipment money can buy, but if you don’t have the insider’s tip, you won’t be claiming your target. Whether it’s where to fish, when to fish, or where to find the freshest live bait, you can count on the locals in the pub to offer the most valuable information you need.

Information aside, the pub is the place to trade stories, to reminisce, to laugh, and to relax and unwind. Week in, week out, there’s a very good chance you pass time with mates that you may only see in the pub and on the water. It’s the place of catch-ups, learning, and straight-up living.


By Lowen Taylor



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