I have a long list of lads in the town who want to come out with me and experience fishing firsthand.

Bart Butson

My family were fishers and, when I was young, I loved being around the fishermen. Our boats were tied up at the wharf and I’d love to play there.  I’ve lived in Port Wakefield all my life.  I am involved in the Port Wakefield community and I converse regularly with the council on fishing, seafood and other regional matters.

Starting in the early 1960’s, my father and grandfather were fishers.  My grandfather was a builder but the harsh building chemicals they used caused him to have skin problems.  He needed to change careers and he chose fishing.  Back then, boat motors were unreliable and my grandfather used sailboats to back up his motors.  He had a mother ship and some dinghies and manned them, often with spirited young men.  He’d occasionally have to bail his crew out from the local lock up on the condition that once back on land he’d delivered them back to the law.

I fish 150-170 days a year, based on winds and the weather.  I fish with a haul net and for that you need still weather.  The wind is critical.  All my life I’ve been netting by hand.

I fish for yellow fin whiting, squid, tommy ruffs, snook, calamari, and garfish.  I’m familiar with the areas I fish and, based on tide, time of year and weather patterns, I try to work out where the fish will be.

My fishing day has a pattern to it but when I fish does not.  I prep at home and partially prep the day before.  Before heading out, I make a thermos and make sure I have ice and sun screen.  I hook up the boat, take it down to the wharf, take a tidal channel to the gulf and stay out up to 7-9 hours.

We have three family members who fish, each with a licence  and two boats, set up based on the netting and what species we are catching.  Each boat has two people on board; a skipper and a person to help.  I have a long list of lads in the town who want to come out with me and experience fishing firsthand.

Depending on where we are, we do one hauling net per day.  We pack and sort our catch at sea.  We have to sort the catch alive from the net.  We bring the catch into the boat, stored on ice, and the fish we don’t need go back in the water alive.  We have a 1% mortality rate of those returned to the sea.

Once back to shore, the fish catch is picked up by freezer truck from Port Wakefield, on the national highway.  There are five refrigerated seafood transport trucks per week servicing the Port Wakefield community.  My catch goes to local Adelaide suppliers and also to Sydney.

My favourite fishing story was on an average Winter’s fishing day.  When we got back to the boat ramp, some people wanted to buy a feed of fish.  Meanwhile, we were starving hungry, with nothing to eat.  I asked if they had any cake or biscuits and would they do a swap.  They couldn’t believe we didn’t want money, only food, and eventually brought out some homemade fruit cake.  It was excellent and my crewman and I shared it on the way home.

 Suite 27, 6-8 Todd Street, Port Adelaide SA 5015

Email: enquiries@mfasa.org.au