1. Name, age, partner, kids and where's home?
Rex James Hunt, 58 years, married to Lynne for 35 years, 2 children – Matthew 31 and Rachel 28. We live at Beaumaris on the shores of Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne.
2. First fish you caught – where and how?
The first fish I caught was a garfish. I took it from the Mentone Pier, now demolished. I caught it on a sandworm bait on a long shank number 12 hook suspended a metre under a float.
3. Favourite fish – and where to catch them?
I just love barramundi. I really enjoy casting to snags in rivers of Northern Australia. However, the best barra fishing I have ever experienced is in the Bensbach River on the flood plains of Papua New Guinea. I also really enjoy heading to Tasmania a couple of times each year to fish Arthurs Lake in the central highlands. Here I fish amongst the stands of timber using mudeyes fished deep under pencil floats. It really is exciting fishing with huge numbers of fish on offer.
Locally I find it hard to go past the King George whiting. They are great sport and I think it’s fair to say you would be hard pressed to find a better eating fish. During the summer months I love to chase them in Western Port, while the cooler months see me chasing them off St Leonards in Port Phillip Bay.
4. Greatest fishing memory?
Even though I have been fortunate to fish all around the world as a result of my fishing program, I still hold my first trout on the opening morning of 1963 as my greatest fishing memory. I can still see the mist hanging over the Macalister River below Lake Glenmaggie in Gippsland, Victoria. I can recall fetching a forked stick to rest my rod on. I had been keen to attend the opening morning of the trout season as the build up in the local sports stores had my adrenalin working. My first trout was a brown of around 2lb in the old scale and was caught on a bunch of garden worms. This started me on a journey in trout fishing that lasts to this day. I love it.
5. Favourite fishing destinations you have visited – and also any you still want to go to?
I enjoyed fishing the River Itchen in the south of England. Although the fish were small, they rose with great enthusiasm to my offering of a red tag. Bensbach River for its wild beauty and fighting barra and the Tiwi Islands, Melville and Bathurst, because I have been going there every year since 1981.
The other day I fished at St Leonards with my friend Neil ‘Thommo’ Thompson. We caught a lovely bag of King George whiting. That was pretty good as well.
It is a dream of mine to fish for salmon in Alaska. I am pleased to say that dream looks like becoming a reality.
6. Favourite lures?
For barra, lipless rattlers. Also Classic Barra 10+ lures in fluoro. For trout a gold and red Celta and the good old gold Wobbler. In the surf Halco slices with a deceiver dropper fished fast on the top of the tide.
7. Most influential fishing person you know and respect?
Bill Classon. A great story about a guy who has given us great reading over the years with world class quality publications. Bill also plugged away at the trout fishing issue when 20 years ago Fisheries decided that trout needed no protection when spawning. Bill sources the best writers for every area and fishing method. His team is wonderful and teaches anglers new methods.
Along the way Bill has maintained his love for fishing. He has revolutionised the sportfishing scene from small tinnies that are at times fitted out better than marlin boats. Bill also put his hand up to be a board member of the Futurefish Foundation when many others sat back and with their anonymity bagged the concept.
Bill is a doer not a gunna. The bonus for me is that he is a good friend, who I can rely on whether things are going well or not.
8. What do you hope to see in the future of fishing in Australia?
I hope to see a more united front for the fishing industry. By that I mean that anglers, importers and retailers have to band together to promote fishing as a great family pastime. They also have to acknowledge that fishing is under huge pressure from very well organised groups who have a vision to get rid of fishing altogether.
I would also like to see an Australia-wide search for a young talent who can be the next hero to young anglers. I would like to see the industry support such a talent. Surely the great growth of the ’90s proves that.
What any industry needs is new business. Without it there is very little growth. I am sad to say that the simple everyday privilege of going fishing seems to be in jeopardy. I hope that I am wrong. It seems to me that the biggest threat to the fishing industry is itself. At the moment it is disintegrating at a great rate of knots by internal bickering and jealousy. But things haven’t changed in my 40 years in the caper. I doubt if ever that they will. I think the hit song by Dionne Warwick says it all: “You don't know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. I'm off fishing while I still can.
Interview conducted by Lee RaynerReads: 5117