My most memorable experience on the water was being caught by myself in a 25 metre swell and thinking I wasn't going to make it.

Phil Hadlow

I started fishing when I was four years old, fishing from the jetties in Port Lincoln.  My father was a keen fisher and my mother had two uncles who were whiting fishermen.  When I was about eight years old, I began going out fishing with my Dad.  He was what was called back then a “fishing warrior” or a “weekend fisher”, working during the week and fishing on weekends.  He didn’t become a full time fisher until he was 60 years old.

I’ve been a fisher for 37 years.  I love being my own boss and responsible for my financial decisions.  I mainly fish for King George Whiting and try to do one trip a week.  I prefer to fish by myself.  I used to take a deckie but on a small vessel being out on the water for that length of time it can get a bit much.

For a while I fished out of a cutter, a 20 foot, 4.5 tonne wooden sailboat with a tiny 20 hp diesel engine, built in Port Adelaide in 1972.  I fished by Wedge Island, about 45 nautical miles from Port Lincoln.  The cutter had a well in it to keep the fish alive and comfortable but my living conditions were fairly cramped.  I sold her to another whiting fisher but his wife didn’t like him going out on it and he had to sell it after only a couple of years.

During late Summer/Autumn, I fish from Port Lincoln in a 23 foot boat and go out fishing for three days at a time.  I get up while its dark to load food and other supplies, and to make sure I have enough ice.  I tow the boat to Port Lincoln and once in the water head 25 nautical miles out to sea.  I usually don’t get to  start fishing until about lunchtime.  These days I am a daylight fisherman.  The first night out, I usually cook fresh fish for dinner.  Otherwise, I heat up and eat stews and curries that I’ve prepared and frozen in advance.  When I get back home, there’s a lot of work to do, washing out the boat and then preparing for the next trip.

For the last ten to fifteen years, I’ve sold my fish locally.  When I get to shore, I take the fish to the fish factory and unload it there.  Previously, I sent the fish to Adelaide but it’s easier for me now to just sell locally.

My most memorable experience on the water – and there’ve been many – was being caught by myself in a 25 metre swell and thinking I wasn’t going to make it.  Swells last for a day or two, peaking after the first day and then taking another day to peter out.  I had been out for a week and had run out of supplies.  It was one of the biggest swells ever recorded.

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