Today’s Lucky 7 interview is with “The Expat Angler”, Chris Stannage! Sydney Local, saltwater fly fisho and contributor to Western Angler Magazine.
1. What is your name and where are you from?
Chris Stannage. I was born in Cambridge England while my parents were studying at Cambridge University in the late 60s. I grew up in Perth, went to uni and studied sports science and then law, and moved to Sydney with my wife Rebecca in 2001, supposedly for 18 months, but here we are 12 years later and still loving it!
2. What part do you play in the fishing community to date?
I have a regular column in the Western Angler Magazine, which is the leading fishing journal in Western Australia, and I also contribute feature articles from time to time. My column is entitled “The Expat Angler” as I am an expat West Australian living here in Sydney and traveling the world on business and fishing. I am also an advisor to the editorial team at Western Angler, particularly on fisheries management issues and the international aspects of marine politics. I’m also an ambassador for RecfishWest, the peak recreational fishing body in Western Australia. My law firm, Saltwater Insurance Consultants seems to have become a magnet for fellow fishing enthusiasts throughout the legal and business community! A great way to combine work and one of life’s passions.
3. What was it that really got you into fishing and how old were you?
A couple of things really got me into fishing when I was 4 or 5 years old. The first was my grandfather Michael buying me one of those little package flick rod outfits for Christmas one year. Michael was a Ukrainian who as a displaced person walked across war torn Europe with my grandmother and uncle, before ending up in a Red Cross camp in Hamburg where my mother was born, from where they migrated as refugees to Australia in 1949. Michael and his fellow Ukrainian friends were fanatical fishermen and loved exploring the coast of Western Australia, marvelling at the accessibility to wonderful fish, particularly hard fighting tailor and their favourite garfish. The second component of that story is that mum and dad regularly took me to the Swan River where particularly mum, spent long afternoons in the company of other mums and their kids while we fished and caught beautiful black bream, flathead, tailor and (perhaps even more appreciated by the adults), big blue manna crabs. We learned the basics of catching for a feed, and catch and release, through those wonderful trips to the river.
4. What is my greatest fishing memory?
Over the years I’ve become more and more involved in saltwater flyfishing and so my greatest fishing memory relates to catching and releasing a Permit on fly at the mouth of the Cotterrell River on the western side of Cape York, with the great assistance of Captain Phil Edwards who at the time was skippering Greg Bethune’s Carpentaria Seafaris mothership. Phil and I both played footy for the same club back in Western Australia (Swan Districts in West Australian Football League) and I was leading a large group of London underwriters and insurance brokers on their first trip to the wilderness areas of Australia. We managed to steal away for a couple of hours and after much stalking of a school of permit (and a really bad case of choking on my first cast) I managed to roll out an Al Simson tied crab fly in front of a very large permit who took the fly and then did the wonderful things that permit do before we finally landed it and then sent it on its way. Possibly one of the more photographed and videoed fish I’ve every experienced! But a wonderful moment in my fishing career.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Somewhat scarily, the father of two teenage children – hopefully both of whom will have continued on with their love and enjoyment of fishing. We are fortunate enough to live on the Sydney waterfront and from our jetty the kids have grown up catching very impressive whiting, snapper, tailor, juvenile groper, bream and the odd brush with a kingfish which usually ends badly around the oyster-encrusted pylons. I’d love to be spending as much time as possible with my family and friends enjoying the high quality and extremely diverse range of fishing options that Sydney Harbour has to offer – from lure fishing for bream, soaking a soft plastic for flatties in deeper stretches of the water or chasing the incredible kingfish on fly and lures – I’ve travelled and fished many great regions of the world and the quality of fishing we have right here in Sydney Harbour is astonishing, and truly world class.
6. What’s top of the bucket list?
Right now top of the bucket list is to catch a metre plus kingfish on fly, preferably on a surface fly. I have so much respect for these iconic sports fish and every time I see a fish of that size around the Harbour it just blows me away! I can only imagine what the strike would be like as well as the long, long fight that will undoubtedly follow. The thought of that occupies a lot of time when I’m at my desk and I should be working!
7. Who do I look up to in the fishing community?
Through my writings and work with the Western Angler team I’ve come to really respect how much work and effort the local fishing media go to, to present our sport in a balanced and creative way. This is often difficult due to the need to make a buck and it’s a credit to high quality traditional journals such as the Western Angler and Fly Life, that a decent level of entertainment and information is balanced against the commercial realities of running a business. However, what I am very excited about is the rise of the “new media format” such as lureandfly.com but also thisisfly.com and Nick Reygaert’s Gin-Clear Media (producing such awesome films as “Predators” and “Hatch”), where cinematography, photography, great writing merge. In summary I guess I like and respect the stalwarts in the fishing media industry but also greatly admire and am excited by the innovative new fishing media entrepreneurs.