A few beers with Dave Hodge
  |  First Published: February 2008

Name, age, family and where do you live?

David Hodge, 38. Married to Tracey with 3 gorgeous kids Jordan 13, Kyra-Lee 4 & Tannhym 6 months. Currently living in Brisbane QLD.

You’re called the Barefoot Fisherman, who came up with the name and when?

Apart from fishing, the other thing I used to do on a weekly basis was hunting, archery and rifle. Stalking animals was so much effective when you could feel every stick and rock under your feet so it sort of became habit, and then shoes wouldn’t fit because my feet had spread, so unless I was at work I never wore shoes. A show organiser called Jason Humphries advertised me once as the Barefoot Fisherman as a bit of a joke ‘cause I used to do all of my shows with naked tootsies and that just caught on so quick it wasn’t funny. So I registered the business name and it’s just gone on from there. Anglers relate to it too and most of them get their shoes off whenever they can.

You’re a casting guru, probably the best trick caster in Australia. How did you get into it and what’s the secret?

About 12 or 13 years ago, I was asked to work on the Supertank and was fortunate enough to work with a legend of the industry, John Bethune or Mr Bass as he is known. He was a tournament caster and competed and won comps overseas and in Australia. We hit it off and started bouncing ideas off each other to try to make the demo’s more fun and interactive for the crowds, in particular, kids. It worked really well and word spread. So the shows got bigger and the crowds as well. Now when I do seminars and stuff my baitcaster is in my hand the whole time playing with the audience while I talk. The one important thing that John showed me was to roll my wrist inwards a little to create a more fluent hinge point and transition from rod tip to water. I would have to say the biggest tip to give a caster would be to choose a rod that flex’s and loads under the weight of the lure, lure casting is no place for broomstick rods. Using a rod that loads minimises arm movement and eliminates room for error when the lure is wound right up to the rod tip. Backing the cast controls off almost all the way and educating your thumb is probably the biggest secret to making a longer cast effortless.

You seem to love your job, how do you keep up the enthusiasm?

Yeah mate, the passion is real as well as the enthusiasm. I love anything to do with fishing and nature and being raised in the bush meant that nature was a short push bike ride to a river or creek near home. I don’t think there is any sort of yabbie, shrimp, fish, lizard, snake or animal that I haven’t caught or harassed as a kid. Even now, I can’t help myself if I’m in a new area I have to look under rocks and stuff and find out what lives there. Nature just keeps throwing up new things to check out and that’s what I love. Probably my main driving force is the knowledge and techniques that I pick up from people along the way.

No one knows everything about fishing and every new destination I visit and whenever I hit the water, I learn or see something new so it never gets boring or uninteresting for me. I never tire of finding, stalking, or catching fish. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I’m not on my own either, there are hundreds of thousands of men and woman with the same passions. We don’t always catch heaps of fish. I don’t get cranky or frustrated anymore though, I just use the times when fish are hard to experiment. As I always say, if you didn’t have a quiet day you’d never have a blinder.

Who has had the most influence on your fishing and your career with fishing?

It all started with my Dad who actually took the time to take me bush shooting and fishing when I was a just a fingerling. Dad’s home town was Dubbo and he was a traditional old school cod fisherman and taught me heaps about the river food chain and inland Australia. Dad was never into lures back then but did plant the seed of fishing infatuation in me, something that I will take the time, no matter what, to do with my young bloke.

Career wise, Jack Erskine has had the most influence, without a doubt. He has done so much for the industry worldwide and has helped me make the right decisions too. The things this man has taught me about tackle and fishing in general are endless. Jack is an innovator of tackle and a quiet achiever, not to mention a true gentleman.

What is your favourite fishing memory?

It would have to be my lifelong ambition of landing a “tonne” cod on the cast. A true hundred pound beast of a thing that I still dream about. You wouldn’t believe it though. Chasing cod for most of my life to catch that one fish, and getting two in the one day, the second even bigger, was just incredible. One other memory that comes close to that one was when I was guiding 4WD tours into Cape York. It was on a private property that hadn’t seen a fisherman for years and as I cast into a crystal clear rock pool, I hooked a small Barra of around 60cm. A river whaler shot out of the shadows and nailed the Barra hooking itself in the side of the mouth, which happens a bit. Then, while fighting that bugger, a 12ft croc launched off the bank and nailed the shark. Too see the food chain in perfect sequence was just awesome.

Of all the fish you’ve caught, which species really captures the Barefoot Fisherman’s heart?

Just the one mate, Murray cod, no question about it.

What’s better, a big impoundment fish or a big river fish?

I love chasing fish, especially fish in the wild, the more remote the better. There are just so many more by catch species and varying forms of structure and environments to add to the mix. It also makes it more challenging because the next fish that eats your lure could be an unstoppable. The more natural surroundings and less people, the better it is for me, In saying that though, fish in impoundments are generally bigger, they still pull hard and bust ups are common, making them tricky at times too.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for fishing in the future?

Maintaining sustainable wild stocks of fish through natural recruitment. Also convincing the government to see the worth of recreational angling to this countries economy and supporting anglers instead of trying to stop outdoor pursuits. Marine protection and exclusion zonings that have no scientific back up or benefit to sustaining populations are in my opinion restricting parents from getting their kids outdoors.

Also internet debates and cowardly attacks made by armchair experts sitting at home trying to think of some topic to cause trouble or aggressively voice opinion on topics that they have no idea about. That’s the exact reason why I never get on the net, too much bitchiness.

What’s your favourite fishing destination in Australia?

I didn’t know these questions were going to be so bloody hard. It would be a toss up between the Cape York and the Daly River in the Northern Territory.

What does the future hold for the Barefoot Fisherman?

Career wise, I’d say probably more of the same stuff with a bit more TV thrown in. I will also probably get back into writing again. On a personal level, I can’t wait to grow old with my wife, she’s gorgeous and when the kids are old enough and we’ve done the best job of raising them we can, I want to do some remote travelling with the missus.

Are there any sponsors you would like to thank for helping you achieve what you have in fishing?

I owe a lot to Bassman Spinnerbaits, Halco Tackle Company, Penn Jarvis Walker and Engel Portable Fridges, Freezers, Generators and Ice Boxes. They have not just been long term sponsors, but great friends also. Australis Canoes and Kayaks are also a great support. They have been absolutely awesome and our relationship will no doubt be long.

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