Recently while competing in the Port Macquarie Classic I was approached by another competitor on how to go about setting up a catch and release lure and fly club like ours. This led me to question, what attracts people to joining a fishing club? and what people get out of an association to a fishing club?
For the last four years I have been a member of the Hastings Bream and Bass Club which is based out of Port Macquarie. The club is a catch and release organisation, which runs competitions for members once a month with live weigh in’s much like an ABT style competition. Previous to this I was also a member of the Australian Bass Association
One of the real strengths of club fishing is the speed of the learning curve people experience. Since starting with the Bream and Bass club I have expanded my knowledge and know how in regards to catching fish consistently on lures. This has happened through open and honest conversations with fellow members, being invited to fish with other club members as well as fishing with members on my boat. In a way it is similar to any sport. If you want to play better you need to play against the best. The key here for any club is to have your competitions run for bragging and at times good natured bagging rights rather than prizes at each event. It is great to keep the records for the year and give out trophies for Bream angler of the year and Bass angler of the year for example but each month you really want your members openly discussing what is working for them and the sharing of ideas. Experience shows that this won’t happen if there are prizes or cash up for each outing. In this way the club fishing scene is that it has the ability to take a complete fishing novice and turn them into a competent and successful lure chucker within a very short space of time.
Fishing can be a secretive and even at times a selfish pursuit where people keep things to themselves and often fish alone especially when moving into a new area. The club scene if it being run properly is an open group where there are plenty of laughs and good natured bagging. The Bream and Bass Club of which I am a member welcomes newcomers (adults and juniors) with open arms and plenty of encouragement. The turn off for people who are new can be the issue of boat ownership. It can be a bit like inviting yourself into your neighbour’s pool party (a bit of a social taboo). The advice here is to attend a couple of meetings prior to club outings and make your interest in lure fishing known. There will often be a spot in a boat and the offer of splitting fuel money whether accepted or refused by the boat owner will have you invited back aboard more often than not. In this way the club scene is a good way to meet like minded people and quickly become an active part of the fishing community.
The next question is what steps does a group go through in order to set up a club?
1- Call a meeting of interested parties. Advertising this through local media will get some lookers. Begin by electing a steering committee to draft membership forms, cost of membership subscription, competition structure. ( The bream and Bass club follow ABT rules very closely- saves the work)
2- Start out with social fish events.
3- Align yourself with a local tackle store. Leave you club information and a membership form with them encourage your members to shop there. (The Hastings Bream and Bass Club is proudly supported by Tackle World Port Macquarie, they help to organise our prizes for raffles).
4- Begin to look at the legalities of clubs the following two sites are worth a look.
5- Check into insurances required should an accident occur.
6- Look into setting a members only website to share club information.
These ideas are not set down in any order but rather some of the things required to set up a club.
After this the idea is to make your club outings fun. The Bream and Bass Club of which I am a member has a BBQ and a drink after each outing and a good laugh at chat about the day’s events.
We raise just enough money to cover our bills each year through memberships, raffles at each club meeting and a major end of year Christmas Party Raffle. The club is not into having huge amounts of money and is run solely for the enjoyment of fishing and good mates. I hope this piece might inspire people to sit up their own club, or join an existing one in your local area. The biggest idea is to make your club outings fun and welcoming for everyone gun anglers as well as people new to fishing and their families.
Craig Ainsworth has been fishing most of his life, starting out catching Bream and Luderick with his father in the late 70’s. A member of the Hastings Bream and Bass Club, Craig has made a move into the tournament fishing scene as well as spending time coaching his son and daughter in the hope that they will grow up to share his passion of fishing with him.