Fishing safely among the elements
  |  First Published: July 2005

Fishing trips can take us on adventures over many types of terrain. Different terrains yield different fishing opportunities, each with varying risks of danger. Many lives have been taken while fishing off rocks or in surf, and this month’s article will provide younger anglers with some pointers on staying safe while fishing these areas.


Rock fishing is a relatively common form of fishing in Australia and although it is extremely popular, it can also be very dangerous. When fishing from rocks, it is of paramount importance that someone knows where you are going, your time of arrival and departure, and how long you intend to fish for. I have found that fishing with a mate is very reassuring.

Having strong footings when fishing from rocks is imperative as it can be the difference between being washed out over the rocks or staying put. In my opinion, dive boots are the most helpful in terms of traction. Their rubber soles provide additional stability and safety.

When fishing rocks it’s all about location. Upon arriving at your chosen location, select a spot that looks safe, and remember that as the tides turn the lower areas of the rocks will become submerged. The golden rule when fishing off rocks is to never turn your back on the surf. This could result in a nasty fall or at worst, being washed out.


Queensland is blessed with lots of picturesque surf beaches and fishing these beaches can produce quality fish, if done in the right way. Fishing in surf may be a useful way to catch a feed, but some of the risks involved are often underestimated.

As with rock fishing, make sure that you have notified someone of your whereabouts, arrival and departure times and how long you will be out for. Survey the beach for rips and stingers, and consider all weather reports, especially tide times and wind direction and speed.

When fishing 4WD-accessed beaches at night or early morning, beware of passing motorists; be courteous and make your presence known to the driver. Waders are a great way to keep warm and dry, but if you wade too far into the surf waders will fill up with water, making for a sticky situation. Surf fishing is a great way to chase a feed and will provide you with some fun in the process. Overall, common sense will see you fish safely and efficiently.


Whether it’s a 40ft Riviera or a 12ft tinnie, boating safety precautions should be taken on every outing. Life jackets, water, EPIRB, flares and a bailing bucket should be onboard at all times. Fishing from a boat may be the most efficient application as it allows us to chase fish and cover more ground.

Basic common sense is needed when fishing from a boat, especially when the weather turns sour. I have found that limiting myself in terms of fishing gear and eskies makes for a safer and less cluttered boat. I firmly believe that having less gear onboard is much safer than having surplus fishing gear lying around. Also, having a good balanced stance will help you stay upright in the heavier seas.

Being sun smart is another important factor when spending a day out on the water. Ensure that you apply sunscreen every few hours, and that you are wearing a broad brimmed hat in order to avoid sunstroke and sunburn.

The much-dreaded seasickness is another factor if fishing from a boat and can usually be avoided with the aid of travel sickness pills, taken before you set out. Seasickness has to be one of the most horrible feelings experienced when boating and can be the difference between having a great day and a horrible one.

All of the situations mentioned above can be safely fished if appropriate precautions are taken. It is of paramount importance that when fishing off rocks and in the surf, you are accompanied by an adult or guardian. Learning about the potential dangers associated with rock, surf and boat fishing will give you a better understanding of how to fish these areas in a safe and successful manner.

Till next month, good fishing to all you junior anglers out there.

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