A beer with Tony Bennett
  |  First Published: August 2007

1. Name, age and where’s home?

Tony Bennett, 36, living in Yarrawonga/Mulwala.

2. How long have you been fishing – can you remember your very first fish?

Have been fishing for around 32yrs with vivid memories of catching “bag fulls” of Reddies with my old uncle as a 4 year old in the Loddon River near Kerang.

3. How many days a year do you fish, on average?

Around 100.

4. What’s your deadliest or favourite lure/bait?

Without trying to upset too many people, if this was a life or death question I would say Bassman or Outlaw Spinnerbaits and Oar-Gee, AC & StumpJumper hard-bodied lures.

5. Who are your three most influential or admired anglers, and why.

These come more as groups of people rather than individuals. Hodgie, Rod McKenzie, Gus Storer, Dave Silva and ‘No Legs’ Casey for their sharing of knowledge, info and skills. My old man Gordon and his mate Stan Fraser for teaching me a few of the finer arts of fishing (their style!) when I was a kid. I Can’t go past good old Rexie for the enthusiasm and knowledge he pumped into a new generation of Aussie anglers.

6. If you had three wishes, what would change about today's fishing world?

1. Slot size limits for Murray Cod 60cm – 80cms being legal and only 1 per person per day.

2. The kill and grill mentality that still exists with the majority of the older brigade.

3. Banning of all wake-enhancing boats except for in specialised zones or on man-made lakes e.g. Mulwala Water Ski Park.

7. List some of your PB’s, any species you like.

110cm Murray cod, 54cm yella, 98cm barra, 68cm saratoga, 2m+ hammerhead shark. I’m proud to say I have never caught a trout.

8. You’ve got one month left to live. Where and how do you fish your last days?

Gather together ‘The inner-sanctum’, the ‘Macorna Boys’ plus Vanessa and the kids, and spend a week at one of McKenzie’s secret spots. Then up to the NT for three weeks chasing barra and ‘toga. I would be happy if I lasted the month!

9. When you are six foot under, what will other anglers best remember you for?

Hopefully for being able to provide them with a great time participating in the ‘Cod Classic’ or just being a good bloke who had a bit of a crack.

10. What was your worst/most tragic fishing experience?

Unpacking my gear after a trip out on the bay, I somehow dropped one of my rods that had a double hook rig set up on it. You guessed it, the spare hook that wasn’t attached to the rod became firmly stuck in the cartilage in the end of my nose. I can still see it now, the doctor putting a couple of needles in either side of my nose to numb it then he cut my snout with a scalpel to get the hook out. Very embarrassing and sore!

11. What are some of your hottest sessions or greatest memories on the water?

Chasing native fish, numbers of fish aren’t huge but six legals in three hours during the Sunday session of the Mulwala Classic 2003, or four legals in two hours in the Lowrance Invitational 2005 wasn’t bad. Apart from that, 200 or so ‘rat’ barra up Clear Creek on the Daly River, NT in 2002 with Skank and Scum Fedke wasn’t bad either.

12. What are you reading at the moment and what is your favourite music?

Reading. I struggle to get past anything heavier than the local rag or any fishing magazine.

Music. The missus calls it “bumpkin” music but I like to call it country. A bit of 80’s stuff late at night around the fire is also good for a bit of trivia.

13. It’s easy to criticise, moan or complain, but over the last few years, what are three big positive outcomes or developments in our sport of angling?

1. Number 1 without a doubt would be the changing mentality of anglers, with more leaning more toward catch and release, even though I think it will take another couple of generations for it to be totally accepted.

2. Another common response for this question but all the latest gadgets from rods and reels to lines and lures. We are becoming more ‘Americanised’ and ‘Japanised’ everyday.

3. We are starting to develop a few of our own ‘household name/cult hero’ anglers even if they are only targeting bread and butter species that could be caught with a hand line and a bit of bread out of a rubber dinghy! It’s scary to think the country’s two most unrewarded anglers Rod McKenzie & Gus Storer may become ‘gods’ one day.

14. So you’re a fishing tragic and totally obsessed – how have you stayed in a relationship?

I can’t believe all these blokes who say they have to earn brownie points or do jobs or favours to be able to go fishing. Quite simply I must have the best bride in the land. My wife, Vanessa, is as passionate about fishing as me. She makes as many plans for trips away as I do (especially to the NT) and when I tell her I’m going away for a weekend, the only question I get is when will you be home and how much cash do you want? She also just told me that I have to buy a new, bigger boat after a croc tried to climb into our boat the other day up north. It also helps that the kids Tori, 12, and Cooper, 9, love it. – Compiled by Brett Geddes

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